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    2: GOD’S PURPOSE CONCERNING THE EARTH

    “THE heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Psalm 115:16.SAIN 14.1

    FROM language like the above we would clearly conclude that God’s purpose in creating the earth was to be accomplished through mankind. That purpose, however, is not left to supposition and inference, but is plainly stated in other portions of the Scriptures. As already intimated, we could hardly conclude that all of God’s purpose respecting the habitation of the earth could be accomplished by permitting it to be in the hands of the wicked for about six thousand years, and then burning it up, and permitting it to exist no more. I remember in my youthful days of hearing ministers speak of “the wreck of nature, and the crash of worlds;” but I do not gain from Holy Writ any intimation that it is such a fate as that, which is to overtake our world and the system of planets that is connected with it.SAIN 14.2

    The Scriptures plainly tell us, not only what was the purpose of God in creating the world, but also why he created man, and placed him on the earth. Of the former purpose the prophet Isaiah says: “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited.” 1Isaiah 45:18. Here we have the design of God in the formation of the earth plainly stated in his own words: “He formed it to be inhabited.” The inhabiting in the past history of the race, for the most part, has been by those who have openly rebelled against God, or who, in blindness and hardness of heart, have served false gods. Would any contend that such had fulfilled the purpose of God in the inhabiting of the earth?—Most assuredly not.SAIN 14.3

    That God’s purpose concerning the inhabiting of the earth relates to man as the inhabitant, and not to some other race of beings, is evident from the fact that, having formed the earth, he then made man, and gave him the earth as his kingdom. In the very proposition to make man, we have a plain statement of God’s purpose, in these words: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” 2Genesis 1:26. This purpose of the Lord in creating man is clearly stated by the psalmist in these words: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands.” And that we may not be left in any doubt to what that dominion refers, he adds: “Thou hast put all things under his feet; all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; and the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” 3Psalm 8:6, 8. The apostle Paul, when writing to the Hebrews, quotes this testimony, but comments on it in such a manner as to show that the state of things contemplated does not now exist, but that it will exist when Christ comes in the accomplishment of his work for man. He says: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” 4Hebrews 2:8, 9.SAIN 15.1

    When God thus gave the earth to man, it was before sin had entered into the world. Man was then included in that work of God’s creation of which it was said, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” 5Genesis 1:31.SAIN 16.1

    Of man’s primitive condition we read in the words of Solomon: “This only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” 6Ecclesiastes 7:29. By their “inventions” we suppose he means those inventions of false gods, and of other ways of serving God than the way he had told them to serve the only living and true God, as they did at Baal-peor, when they worshiped dead men as gods, and “provoked him to anger,” and “went a whoring with their own inventions.” Though he forgave them, he took “vengeance of their inventions.” 7Psalm 106:29, 39; 99:8.SAIN 16.2

    God gave to man the earth when he was in an upright state. When he had sinned by partaking of the forbidden tree, “the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” 8Genesis 3:23, 24. When he thus became sinful, and the decree had gone forth against him, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” he lost all right to that dominion wherein all had been subjected to him. He had become a subject of death, which was the penalty for the transgression of God’s law. That penalty must be met. We have already quoted from Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews that though we do not now see man in his primitive possession of the earth, with all in subjection to him, we do see Jesus “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” In other words, Jesus has taken upon himself the penalty of man’s transgression, that he might redeem man, and bring in that peaceable state first contemplated in giving man the earth. As death is the culmination of all earth’s woes, so, in destroying death, all the effects of the curse culminating therein will be removed, and those accepting by faith the proffered mercy will be again placed in that state where all things will be in subjection to man.SAIN 16.3

    The purpose of God has not been frustrated by the fall of man. God’s design will yet be carried out, and the earth be possessed by man in an upright state. As Peter says, we “look for new heavens and a new earth [renewed earth], wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Some paraphrase this text, “wherein the righteous shall dwell,” which probably gives the correct idea, and shows that God’s purpose concerning the earth will be accomplished when he fills the earth with his immortal saints, those who have believed and obeyed him in this life. Of such a state the poet Milton said:—SAIN 17.1

    “The world shall burn, and from her ashes spring
    New heavens and earth, wherein the just shall dwell,
    And after all their tribulations long,
    See golden days.”
    SAIN 17.2

    And of the same, Isaac Watts sang:—SAIN 17.3

    “Yet when the sound shall tear the skies,
    And lightnings burn the globe below,
    Saints, you may lift your joyful eyes,
    There’s a new heaven and earth for you.”
    SAIN 17.4

    In prospect of the same we may say in the words of another:—SAIN 17.5

    “Oh! what a thought! That the deluge of sin shall be baled out, that the long covered hills and valleys of holiness shall again present themselves; that the slimy path of the old serpent shall be cleansed out of all nations, and the alloy of hell with fervent heat be burned out of the elements of the solid globe; that the kingdom, peopled with the redeemed, shall become meet to be presented in the presence of God, and remain forever.”** 9Irving’s “Sermons on the New Earth.”SAIN 17.6

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