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For years Hollywood has cranked out film after film about the end of the world, or at least the end of the world as it is now known. Armageddon (1998), Zombieland (2009), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), This Is the End (2013), Greenland (2020), just to name a few, depict a sorry future for us all. And suddenly, with COVID-19 (including variants, such as B.1.1.7 or B.1.351 and counting), Hollywood’s science fiction end-of-the-world stuff seems a little too close to home for comfort.

Science fiction aside, real science presents a future that is, to put it mildly, rather bleak as well. Sooner or later, the universe, scientists say—not just the earth, but the universe!—is going to end.


Depending upon the numbers that these scientists stick in their physics equations, some theorize that the universe might tear itself apart (the big rip). Others, using different numbers, predict that it might collapse in on itself (the big crunch). The most popular scenario is that it might burn out (the big freeze): “The universe,” wrote Paul Davies in his book The Last Three Minutes, “currently aglow with the prolific energy of nuclear power, will eventually exhaust this valuable resource. The era of light will be forever over.”

Big crunch, big rip, big freeze—long-term, things don’t look very hopeful for this world, do they?

new heavens and a new earth

In contrast, the Bible depicts the end of this world as well—just quite differently than either Hollywood or science. A few biblical excerpts about our long-term prospects: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).1“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1, 2). Or this, one of the most hopeful: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (verse 4).

Not quite the big freeze or the big crunch, is it? Nor the future depicted in Zombieland, either.

the promise of nothing

Yes, both science and biblical revelation agree: our world, as it is, will not remain this way forever. Everything will change. But what about our loved ones and us? Is the end of the world the ultimate end of us all as well? The big rip, the big freeze—none of these options offer us any long-term hope, do they?

No. They offer us nothing but the prospect that we and our loved ones—and, in fact, every person who has ever lived or will live—will vanish into eternal oblivion. The obvious conclusion of all is that we, ultimately, mean nothing, and that our lives mean nothing, and that we are of no more significance than a cloud of cosmic dust.

“Must I again declare to you the supreme vacuity of culture, of science, of art, of good, of truth, of beauty, of justice,” wrote Spain’s Miguel de Unamuno in his book Tragic Sense of Life, “of all these beautiful conceptions, if at the last, in four days or in four million of centuries—it matters not which—no human consciousness shall exist to appropriate this civilization, this science, art, good, truth, beauty, justice, and all the rest?”

In contrast, from the beginning to the end of the Bible, though they had faced everything—sickness, depression, war, natural disasters, prison, exile, torture, death—that the fallen world could throw at them, the prophets could, nevertheless, write again and again about the love and goodness of God. Isaiah, 2,500 years ago, penned: “ ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV2). Almost 3,000 years ago, the psalmist could sing: “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:26, NIV). The apostle Paul, who experienced prison, physical ailments, hatred, mob violence, poverty, hunger, cold, could nevertheless write—in a world almost 2,000 years away from anesthetics—that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV).

the gospel promise

Yes, the Bible presents the promise of a radically different future for the world, a wonderful and hopeful future—all because of Jesus, because of His life, death, and resurrection. Indeed, the whole purpose of Christ’s coming was to give us eternal life in a new creation, one without any of the things that make life in this creation so difficult.

Look at these Bible texts about Christ’s victory over the forces of evil:

Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22).

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20).

Talking about Jesus, the Bible says He “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14).

And look at these Bible texts about the forgiveness of sin that we have in Jesus.

“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).

Jesus told an early convert to reach everyone with the good news, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

That is, no matter what you have done to offend God, you can have, in Jesus, forgiveness for those things before God. Talk about good news!

the final hope

Given what has happened in the past few years—from COVID-19 to massive forest fires to earthquakes to civil unrest—the idea of the end of the world suddenly ending doesn’t seem like just science fiction, like Hollywood stuff only. It seems real, even frighteningly near, does it not?

But because of Jesus, and because of what He has done for us at the cross, and because of what He promises to do for us in the future, even now—amid a world of turmoil, conflict, uncertainty, and fear—we can have hope, the certainty that, regardless of how things appear, God is in ultimate control, and it will all turn out right in the end.

Sooner or later, and—given recent events—it now seems sooner than later, this world as we know it is going to end. And yet, through Jesus, we have divine promises of a new world, a new future, where God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Because all we know is a world of death, crying, sorrow, and pain, we can barely imagine one without them. But that’s what we have been promised; a promise made certain by the death of Jesus, a promise sealed in sacred blood, a gift from heaven to earth.

1. Unless otherwise noted, Bible verses quoted in this article are from the New King James Version®.

2. Bible verses marked NIV are from the New International Version®.

Clifford Goldstein is the editor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s daily Bible study guide and a frequent contributor to Signs of the Times®. He writes from Maryland.

A New World?

by Clifford Goldstein
From the March 2022 Signs