Can You Believe in a Paradise Earth?
FEW people believe that the earth will ever be a paradise. Many think that it will not continue to exist at all. According to the book The Sacred Earth, by Brian Leigh Molyneaux, this globe came into existence because of ‘a great cosmic explosion’ millions of years ago. And if man himself does not destroy the earth, many believe that it and the whole universe may eventually “collapse back into a fiery, imploding ball.”
The 17th-century English poet John Milton had no such pessimistic thoughts. In his epic poem Paradise Lost, he wrote that God created the earth to be a paradise home for the human family. That original Paradise was lost. However, Milton believed that it would be restored—that a redeemer in the person of Jesus Christ would one day “reward his faithful, and receive them into bliss . . . in Heaven or Earth.” Milton confidently declared: “For then the Earth shall all be Paradise.”
Paradise—In Heaven or on Earth?
Many religious people share Milton’s view that they will eventually receive some kind of compensation for the horrors and pain that they have had to endure here on earth. But where will they enjoy that reward? Will it be “in Heaven or Earth”? For some, the earth hardly enters the picture. They say that people will enjoy “bliss” only after they leave the earth and live in a spirit realm in heaven.
In the book Heaven—A History, authors C. McDannell and B. Lang say that second-century theologian Irenaeus believed that life in a restored paradise “would not take place in some distant heavenly realm, but on earth.” According to that book, although such religious leaders as John Calvin and Martin Luther hoped to go to heaven, they also believed that “God would renew the earth.” Members of other religions have held similar beliefs. McDannell and Lang also say that some Jewish people believed that in God’s due time, all human hardships “will be erased and a full life will be lived on earth.” According to ancient Persian belief, “the pristine state of the earth will be restored and people will live in peace once more,” says The Encyclopaedia of Middle Eastern Mythology and Religion.
What happened to the hope of a paradise earth? Is our earthly existence meant to be only a passing phase? As the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo held, is it to be just “a brief, often unfortunate, episode” in a journey to a spirit realm? Or did God have something else in mind when he created the earth and put humans on it in paradise conditions? Can mankind find genuine spiritual fulfillment and bliss right here on earth? Why not examine what the Bible says about this subject? You may well conclude, as millions already have, that to hope for a restored earthly paradise is reasonable indeed.
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The poet John Milton believed that Paradise would be regained
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COVER: Earth: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C./NASA
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Earth: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C./NASA; John Milton: Leslie’s