Christians who take biblical prophecy seriously are, for the most part, in agreement that the world will end by fire. The New Testament epistle of Second Peter asserts clearly (chapter 3, verse 10): “On [the day of the Lord] the heavens will pass away with a dreadful noise, the elements will be consumed by fire, and the earth and the works done in it will be exposed.” This and other such verses reinforce the commonly accepted belief that God — who promised not to destroy the earth in a flood (“I will never again destroy every living thing as I have done [i.e., by water]” — Genesis 8.21b) — has the option of burning everything to a crisp in the Next Great Obliteration.
Now, let me be quick to say that the Second Peter verse needs more interpretive insight to understand it in its context, but, for the sake of this discussion, let’s say that it means exactly what it says: “the elements will be consumed by fire.” Looking around today, is there any hint anywhere that such a horrible fate could be in store for our Big Blue Marble?
I contend that there is. Not only that, I contend that there are several possibilities already in play so that the question is not, “Could the earth actually end in a global conflagration?” but “Gee, I wonder which of the current fires already raging could be the fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy?”
Fires have been consuming huge swaths of California for months. The arid conditions in that part of the country suggest that, should the prevailing westerly winds encourage the eastward movement of the fires, states bordering California could be next (and then, of course, the states bordering those states, etc.) until the entire country could be subject to consumption-by-flame. Truly, the prophecy would come true for everyone for whom this country is their world.
However, a more serious threat is now taking place in the Amazon rain forest which has been dubbed “the lungs of the earth.” A double threat is happening, even as the world sits by and watches: 1) the land, fertile in resources and home to countless species of wildlife, is burning up at an astonishing rate (by one estimate, the equivalent of three football fields a minute), totaling “4.6 million acres of irreplaceable rain forest since the beginning of the year” (The Week, 9/13/19); and 2) the unfathomable stubbornness and pride of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who is in no rush to extinguish the fires and even has refused outside help from other countries to save the rain forests. He’s the 21st century’s Emperor Nero, fiddling around while his world burns down around him.
Perhaps more than anything I am sickened by the power of one insignificant human being to wield such influence over the fate of not only millions of acres of precious land and the wildlife and people who inhabit them, but also the fate of hundreds of millions of other people around the globe. Reports seem to support the fact that the Amazon produces at least 20 percent of the earth’s oxygen, and destruction of this part of South America would wreak havoc in every part of the world.
Perhaps the entire earth will not end up in the ash bin, but every sector eventually could well be destroyed by smoke, pollution, lack of breathable air, and who knows what else.
Notice how it would not necessarily be fire itself that would be the cause of the earth’s destruction, but those stubborn, immovable human traits of greed and pride. There are powerful men in several countries who embody those very traits and who would, should the worst happen, be directly responsible for bringing Second Peter’s prophecy to pass.
We need prayer — big time — now and every day we’re given.