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    THE SURE WORD

    “A glory gilds the sacred page,
    Majestic like the sun;
    It gives a light to every age,
    It gives, but borrows none.” — Cowper.
    PROLI 31.1

    WE have seen that the transfiguration was a miniature representation of the coming of the Lord in glory, to raise the righteous dead, and to translate the living. Ever after that memorable day, the coming of the Lord must have been a more vivid reality to Peter, James, and John, than it had been before. Jesus said to them, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory,” and now these three disciples could realize what that glory would be. They had been eye-witnesses of his majesty, and had beheld the glory of his coming.PROLI 31.2

    Perhaps some may be inclined to say, “If I could have such evidence as that, I would have no doubt about the matter. If I could only see for myself, I should know that these things are so.” Well now read what Peter says immediately after his reference to the transfiguration:—PROLI 31.3

    “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:19-21.PROLI 32.1

    The revised version renders this verse as follows: “We have the word of prophecy made more sure;” but we cannot accept this rendering. Alford says that this rendering is on the ground,—PROLI 32.2

    “That the comparative alludes to what has gone before as its reason, as if it had been said, Wherefore, or Now, or Henceforth we have, etc.; i.e., ‘on account of this voice from Heaven which we heard, we have firmer hold of, or esteem [possess] more sure, the prophetic word, as now having in our own ears begun its fulfillment.’ The great objection to such a view is, the omission of any such connecting particles as those above supplied. It is true the apostle may have omitted them [as he certainly did, and, presumably, on purpose]; but even supposing that, it is further against the view, that if such be the force of the comparative, the thought is not at all followed up in the ensuing verses.” — New Testament for English Readers.PROLI 32.3

    It may be further said that nothing can make the word of prophecy more sure than it was when it first came from the lips of the holy men whom God inspired. The meaning is evidently exactly given in the common version, that the sure word of prophecy is more sure than any panoramic view can be. Our eyes may deceive us, but the word of God “liveth and abideth forever.” It is something that is more sure than anything that man has seen; it is something that comes direct from “the Spirit of truth.” Men’s eyes may deceive them; but the word of prophecy does not depend upon any human faculty; it “came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Men were simply the unresisting mouth-pieces of the Spirit of God; it spoke the words, and they had no voice in the matter.PROLI 32.4

    An instance of how the prophecy came not by the will of man, is afforded by the case of Balaam. It is true that Balaam was not a “holy man of God;” but the fact that he intended to pronounce a curse makes it more apparent that the prophecy came not by the will of man. Balaam was tempted by the promise of a great reward to go and curse Israel, but God, in his great love for his people, “turned the curse into a blessing.” When Balak reproached Balaam for not cursing Israel, the latter replied, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak.” Numbers 24:13.PROLI 32.5

    While Balaam was thus passive in the hands of the Lord, he uttered this prophecy: “I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.” Numbers 24:17-19.PROLI 33.1

    Here we have one instance of the “sure word of prophecy” concerning the coming of the Lord. Considering the circumstances under which it was uttered, it is a notable instance. It shows most fully that prophecy is something that has in it nothing of the human, but is wholly divine. No human frailty enters into it, but it comes direct from the Holy Spirit. Thus it is “more sure” than human eyesight. For this reason it is that it was said: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”PROLI 33.2

    Still more ancient than the prophecy given through Balaam is the one uttered by Enoch. Jude speaks of the destruction of the wicked, and says (verses 14,15): “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”PROLI 33.3

    The well-known prophecy uttered by Job is perhaps more ancient than that spoken by Balaam. After expressing a wish that his words might be graven in the enduring rock, he said: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:25-27.PROLI 33.4

    This prophecy brings to view the Christian’s hope, namely, the resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Lord, showing that from the earliest times this was the hope of God’s people. It was “the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers.” Acts 26:6. But more explicit than any yet quoted, as showing “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is the following by “the sweet psalmist of Israel,” who could say, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” 2 Samuel 23:2. The word of the Lord, which was in his tongue, said:—PROLI 33.5

    “The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge himself.” Psalm 50:1-5.PROLI 34.1

    Again the Lord spoke by him to the same intent: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” Psalm 96:11-13.PROLI 34.2

    Turning to the book of the prophet Isaiah, we read as follows, beginning with the tenth verse of the second chapter:—PROLI 34.3

    “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty, and upon everyone that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.... And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.”PROLI 34.4

    This language certainly gives us a vivid idea of the “power and coming” of the Lord. But the holy man of God, whose lips were touched by a coal from God’s own altar, was made the mouth-piece of a still more vivid description of the power that shall attend the coming of the Lord. Again the Holy Spirit moved him to say:—PROLI 34.5

    “Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt, and they shall be afraid; pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth; they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.” Isaiah 13:6-13.PROLI 34.6

    Once more the Lord speaks through his servant:—
    “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled; for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” Isaiah 24:1-6.
    PROLI 35.1

    Who these few men are that are left from the general destruction that overwhelms those who have transgressed the laws, is told through the same prophet in these words:—PROLI 35.2

    “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Isaiah 33:14-17.PROLI 35.3

    That these righteous ones are the “few men” who are left after the day of the Lord has laid the land desolate, and destroyed the sinners out of it, is evident from our Saviour’s words, recorded in Matthew 7:13, 14: “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”PROLI 36.1

    Jeremiah was another “holy man of God,” whom the Holy Ghost moved to speak. Like John the Baptist, he was chosen even before his birth to be a prophet unto the nations. When the Lord announced this fact to him (Jeremiah 1:4, 5), he said: “Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child; for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Verses 6, 7. And the prophet continues: “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” Verse 9. What better credentials could any man have than this?PROLI 36.2

    From lips burning with the touch of the almighty hand, Jeremiah poured forth the words “which the Holy Ghost teacheth;” and here is a portion of his word concerning “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:”—PROLI 36.3

    “Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled; suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding; they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” Jeremiah 4:20-27.PROLI 36.4

    We next turn to “the burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see,” and read the following word concerning the power of the Lord’s coming:—PROLI 36.5

    “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand [bright beams out of his side]; and there was the hiding of his power.” Habakkuk 3:3, 4. Compare with these words 2 Thessalonians 2:8: “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” It is the glory of the Lord, — that glory which he received from the Father in the holy mount, and which he had with him before the world was, — that will destroy the sinners out of the earth when he comes. But we turn again to the words spoken through Habakkuk:—PROLI 36.6

    “Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth; he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow; his ways are everlasting.... The mountains saw thee, and they trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by; the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck.” Habakkuk 3:5-13.PROLI 37.1

    Now read from the word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah: “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling-blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests; and them that worship the host of heaven upon the house-tops; and them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham; and them that are turned back from the Lord; and those that have not sought the Lord, nor inquired for him.” Zephaniah 1:2-6.PROLI 37.2

    Here we learn again that this destruction is not going to be a local affair. Although the prophecy came to the Jews, it was directed not only against those of them that turned back from the Lord and worshipped Baal and the host of heaven, but against “those that have not sought the Lord, nor inquired for him.” In confirmation of this, we read again:—PROLI 37.3

    “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” Zephaniah 3:8.PROLI 37.4

    We close this list of quotations from the prophecies of the Old Testament, by a portion of “the burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.” Says the Lord through this prophet:—PROLI 38.1

    “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1-5.PROLI 38.2

    And after this solemn question and warning, the following view is presented, not only of the destruction that shall attend the coming of the Lord, but also of what shall follow that:—PROLI 38.3

    “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:1-3.PROLI 38.4

    Thus we have seen, although we have selected only a few instances, that the sure word of prophecy is fairly burdened with references to “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” More extended investigation would reveal the fact that the great body of prophecy was given for the sole purpose of giving instruction concerning either the first or the second advent of Christ. Thus the apostle Peter says to those who are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that it is, —PROLI 38.5

    “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; ...receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:7-11.PROLI 38.6

    What the sufferings of Christ brought to mankind is known to all in so-called Christian lands, and to nearly all in the world. He suffered for sin, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Through his spilled blood, all who believe on him may be justified freely by the grace of God, receiving the remission of sins; and being thus justified by faith, they will have peace with God. At Christ’s first advent, he was made an offering for sin, and he “bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24); but when he comes the second time, he comes “without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28. Concerning this coming there is less knowledge among men than of the first; yet it brings the consummation of the gospel and of this world’s history. Without “the glory that should follow,” the sufferings of Christ would be to no purpose. But as we have seen, that glory which the justified and sanctified ones are to share with him (Romans 8:17), when he comes, will also destroy the wicked. Therefore, since that event is of such overwhelming importance, how true the words that we “do well” to “take heed” to the sure word of prophecy “as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise.”PROLI 39.1

    This present age is called night. Says Paul, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:12. And this he says in view of the fact previously stated, that it is high time to wake out of sleep, because our salvation is near. The dawning of the day, and the arising of the day-star, refer to the coming of Christ, who is “the bright and morning star.” Revelation 22:16. So Isaiah, like Paul, tells of the night of darkness, and the coming of the dawn. Looking with prophetic sight down the ages, he says:—PROLI 39.2

    “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3.PROLI 39.3

    This is commonly applied simply to the spread of the gospel; but what follows, taken in connection with parallel passages in the New Testament, shows that the prophet saw the triumph of the gospel in the final destruction of the wicked, and the salvation of the righteous in the New Jerusalem. Read the following and compare with the twenty-first of Revelation:—PROLI 39.4

    “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despise thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” Isaiah 60:11-14, 18-21.PROLI 40.1

    The dawning of the day, and the rising of the day-star, will be when the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth, and the people shall be righteous. This present time is night because the darkness of sin covers the people. In the midst of this night, our only light is that which shines from God’s word. David said: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. The lamp of prophecy, lighted from the glory that surrounds the throne of God, sheds its beams amidst the darkness that overspreads the earth, and is the wayfaring man’s only guide till the glory of the Lord shall arise in full splendor upon him. Whosoever takes heed to it, his path shall be “as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18.PROLI 40.2

    The third chapter of the second epistle of Peter contains some positive evidence concerning the sure word of prophecy, which, as we have seen, points out the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The chapter opens with the statement that the epistle is written for the purpose of stirring the brethren up to take heed to “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.” There is special reason for this admonition, because just before the end, the darkness will be more intense, as the apostle Paul says, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:13. And these evil men will scoff, saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:4. That this is a falsehood, and that they ought to know better if they do not, Peter declares in the next two verses, saying:—PROLI 40.3

    “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”PROLI 41.1

    The phrase, “the earth standing out of the water and in the water,” does not well express the idea of the original. The Greek word which in the common version is rendered “standing,” should, as the margin indicates, be rendered “consisting.” Robinson’s “Lexicon of the New Testament” says of the word: “To place together parts into a whole, i.e., to constitute, to create, to bring into existence. Hence in N.T., intransitive, to be constituted, created; to exist,” as in Colossians 1:17, “By him all things consist.” Wakefield translates the passage thus: “A heaven and earth formed out of water and by means of water.” Bloomfield says, “The earth ...being formed out of water, and consisting by means of water.” Murdock’s translation of the Syriac has it: “The earth rose up from the waters, and by means of water, by the word of God.” The meaning is that the earth in its chaotic state was simply a watery mass, as indicated by Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”PROLI 41.2

    “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” When God gathered the waters together into one place, and made the dry land appear, he evidently stored large quantities of water in the interior of the earth. This is indicated in the second commandment, by the phrase, “The water under the earth,” and by Psalm 136:6, “To him that stretched out the earth above the waters,” and also by Psalm 24:1, 2. In the flood which destroyed the earth in the days of Noah, the waters in the interior of the earth united with the rain from heaven, as the record says: “The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” Genesis 7:11. The idea of the passage in Peter’s epistle is that the very element from which the earth was formed, was made to contribute to its destruction. Having disproved the assertion that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation, the apostle draws a parallel, thus:—PROLI 41.3

    “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word [the word of God, see verse 5] are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7. Instead of “are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of Judgment,” a better translation would be, “stored with fire, reserved unto the day of Judgment.” Now the comparison is at once apparent. By the word of God, the earth in the beginning was formed from the watery mass which God had spoken into existence. Part of this water was stored up in the earth, and by the word of God was afterward caused to overflow the earth and contribute to its destruction. And the same word of God, which performed this, has stored the interior of this present earth with fire, and is keeping it till the day of Judgment, when, as in the case of the waters of the flood, the fire within the earth, uniting with that which comes down from God out of Heaven (Revelation 20:9), will destroy it.PROLI 41.4

    Particular attention should be given to the word “kept.” Instead of all things continuing as they were from the beginning of the creation, the earth has within it the elements of its destruction, and it is only the power of God that stays the catastrophe.PROLI 42.1

    Some have fancied that this chapter teaches that the earth will be annihilated at the Judgment-day. This is a mistake. This earth will be destroyed in the same sense that the original earth “perished” by the waters of the earth. It was all broken up, and the face of it was changed, so that the earth after the flood had no resemblance to the earth before the flood. This was the last and greatest curse caused by sin, and completed the desolation of the earth. But the matter which composed the earth was not destroyed. So by the fires of the last day “the elements shall melt with fervent heat,” but they will not be annihilated. From those melted elements, “new heavens and a new earth” will be formed, which will have no more resemblance to this sin-cursed earth than this earth does to Eden, the garden of God. The people that shall dwell in it will all be righteous (Isaiah 60:21); and “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” Isaiah 35:1, 2.PROLI 42.2

    The “sure word of prophecy” tells us again and again that this earth shall be destroyed by fire, and that in that fire the ungodly shall be burned up. Scoffers say that they see no evidence that any such event will ever take place; but the apostle Peter assures us that the instrument of the earth’s destruction is already prepared, and is stored within it. Just as surely as the earth was once destroyed by water, so surely will it again be destroyed by fire.PROLI 42.3

    “But these prophecies were spoken hundreds, and some of them thousands, of years ago, and there is no more evidence of their fulfillment now than there was when they were uttered.” Thus argues the scoffer; but it is a vain argument, for two reasons. In the first place, all the evidence goes to show that there is now far more prospect of their speedy fulfillment than there was when they were uttered. The truth of the statement that “the earth shall wax old like a garment” may be verified by any close observer. The earth is wearing out. Take, for example, the land of Palestine. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, that wonderfully fertile country, the Lord promised them a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8), a land better than Egypt (Deuteronomy 11:10, 11), “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.” Deuteronomy 8:7-9. Hundreds of years later the prophet Ezekiel called it a land “flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands” (Ezekiel 20:6, 15); our Saviour’s parable affords evidence that the land would yield thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold (Matthew 13:8); and when God would describe the beauty and richness of the new earth, he said, “The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon.” Isaiah 35:2.PROLI 43.1

    But how is it now? A traveler, who has written a good description of Eastern lands, says:—
    “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation, that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent.” “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies.”
    PROLI 43.2

    And what is true of that country is true in less degree of other countries. The waxing old of the earth is more marked in Palestine, because of its original superior fertility.PROLI 43.3

    But even allowing that there were no visible tokens of the approach of the time when this earth shall as a vesture be folded up and changed, it would still be a vain thing to say that it must be long ere God’s sure word can be fulfilled, because of the truth of the following statement:—PROLI 43.4

    “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8.PROLI 43.5

    God “inhabiteth eternity.” The flight of time makes no difference with his plans. Compared with his eternity, the entire six thousand years of earth’s existence is but a span. Says the psalmist, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:4. Therefore the apostle concludes that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.” That which seems to men forgetfulness of the promise, is only a kindly delay to allow dilatory men to secure the promise. In God’s reckoning, it is only as the three days’ grace which men allow for the payment of a promissory note.PROLI 44.1

    It should not be forgotten that while a thousand years is with the Lord as one day, one day is as a thousand years. This is too often overlooked. While he may take a thousand years for the fulfillment of a promise, and then it will be the same as though performed the next day, he can do in one day the work of a thousand years. Therefore there is no warrant for settling down to carnal ease, thinking that it will necessarily be a long time yet before the work of God on earth can be accomplished. “For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness; because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” Romans 9:28.PROLI 44.2

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