The words in the title of this little article appeared in The Daily Telegraph as a headline on Thursday July 25th 2002, and introduced an article about an asteroid whose orbit could coincide with that of the earth. The asteroid, named 2002NT7, is estimated to be between 0.6 and 2.5 miles (0.96 and 4.0 kilometres) across, and travelling at 18 miles (28km) per second. Astronomers have been plotting the orbit, calculating its future path, and have predicted a collision, if it does take place, at 11.47am on Friday February 1st 2019. Although there is such precision in the calculated impact time, there is less certainty about whether it will actually take place, as each set of observations improves the accuracy of predictions about the orbit.
The consequences of such a collision would be catastrophic for many, causing great destruction, changes to the atmosphere, climatic changes, shock waves throughout the earth. Does this worry you? Do you fear the end of civilisation as we know it? Are you uneasy about the uncertainty of the astronomers’ predictions?
The Bible speaks of worry and uncertainty...
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Luke 21:25-26
These are the words of the Lord Jesus when his disciple asked him about the future, and may well have a literal application (to the natural heavens and earth) as well as figurative (to the nations, the rulers and the ruled). Certainly, in the context, there is cause for both concern and hope.
While many fear the destruction of the earth and the extinction of all life on it, the Bible gives us more cause for hope...
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. Psalms 115:16
Further, the prospect of the earth being destroyed by man’s folly has been foreseen, and the means put in place to prevent it.
And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. Revelation 11:18
As a consequence, the earth will survive as long as God intends it to...
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. Ecclesiastes 1:4
Although we have no need to fear the sudden extinction of all life on earth or the complete breakdown of civilisation, there are dramatic changes coming, so drastic that the description is of new heavens and new earth”
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Isaiah 65:17
Read the context of the next verse to see its full impact as Peter compares the destruction at the flood with the purging still to come at the return of the Lord Jesus, which will result in the replacement of civilisation as we know it by a new world order...
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13
Going back to the context of Jesus’ words, we find that he speaks next of his return to make these great changes...
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:27-28
To prepare for this future we need an escape plan, not to escape astronomical collisions, but to escape sin and death, and be part of the new world order.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 2 Peter 3:11-14
Update - 30th July 2002
Astronomers now predict that 2002NT7 should miss earth in February 2019, but could be on a collision course for Sunday 1st February 2060.
Compare this change of prediction because of incomplete knowledge with the unchanging predictions of the Bible, from the One who has perfect knowledge of all things.
Update February 1 2019
Although this update is being typed before February 1 2019 ends here in the UK [14:30 GMT], we are confident that the world won't end today. If matters were solely in the hands of humankind, we would be worried since, as a species, we plainly are not to be trusted with the planet that God has given us to live on, and are perfectly capable of bringing about a global catastrophe. There are a number of notable scientific bodies concerned about the situation man seems determined to push itself into - groups concerned with global warming, with the critically polluted state of the earth, and particularly with the appalling level of pollution of its great oceans. One group is so concerned by nuclear proliferation that it maintains a Doomsday Clock which is currently set at two minutes to midnight - is this a portent of the end of the world? See this article for a reasoned view.