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Will the earth pass away?

Submitted: 1/13/2009
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Question: Ecclesiastes 1:4 says, 'Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.' Sir, what is the meaning of that verse? It contradicts Mark 13:31. Thanks and more power! Praise ye the Lord

Answer: Mark 13:31 says, 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.' This indeed seems to contradict the passage you cited in Ecclesiastes. The word 'forever' is the Hebrew olam, which can also mean perpetually. So in Ecclesiastes, God is comparing the longevity of the earth with the longevity of man. He says that the generations of man come and go, but the earth continues on perpetually. This does not necessarily mean eternally. On the other hand, in Mark 13:31 Jesus is comparing the longevity of the earth to His Word. The Word always was and always will be. Heaven and earth, however, will undergo a major tranformation. They will pass away, only to be reborn into a new heaven and a new earth. Peter describes this transformation in 2 Peter 3:10-13, which says, 'But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.'