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EARTH

In `2 Kings 20:11`, we read that Isaiah the Prophet cried unto the Lord; and He brought the shadow of the sun ten degrees backwards, by which it had gone down on the dial of Ahaz. Does this record teach that the Lord reversed the earth's motion upon its axis? (A.)

<ANSWER>--The possibility of such a miracle has been questioned by many, who have insisted that it would involve not only stoppage of the motion of the earth upon its axis, but an impossible retrograde movement, to be accomplished in a moment of time. However, Professor Garbett, writing far a magazine called Knowledge, declares that he knew of an afternoon some years ago when, on many sun-dials in Southern England, there occurred exactly the wonder described in the book of Kings. Asked by Astronomer R.A. Proctor to describe it, he writes as follows: "The shiftings of the shadows an the dials, that Isaiah predicted to sick Hezekiah, are liable to occur at any place, when these two circumstances occur: (1) That the upper atmosphere is in that condition which causes two bright parhelion or mock suns to appear an opposite sides of the sun; and (2) that the lower air contains drifting clouds, massive enough to hide often two of the three (apparent suns). When the real sun and eastern mock sun are hidden, there is only the western (mock sun) to cast shadows, which then coincides with what the sun would cast an hour and a half later; but if the clouds shift so as to hide the west parhelion, and disclose the eastern, the shadows instantly become such as the sun cast an hour and a half earlier....On March 29, 1858, these effects occurred, had any one been looking, on every dial of Portsea, and very probably of much of Hampshire besides. The parhelia were present and bright enough at about 11 a.m. and still better at 1 p.m.

The Bible says "The earth abideth forever" (`Ecc. 1:4`). How do we harmonize this with the conclusions reached by scientists that the solar system is gradually running down and that eventually the earth will become cold and lifeless?

<ANSWER>--Even if the conclusions of scientists were realized as suggested above, it would not be out of harmony with the Bible statement, for the earth would still be "abiding" although in a lifeless form. Various have been the speculations as to the ultimate fate of the earth. Some have conjectured that the earth would eventually drop into the sun and thus be consumed. Others have suggested that a collision would occur with some comet or with another planet, and in this way, the earth would be disposed of. The suppositions of scientists have served to amuse a not too credulous public and, we believe, not many have taken them seriously as to their wild guesses. How reasonable and consistent the Bible teaching to the effect that the Creator formed the earth to be inhabited, and that while it is still in an imperfect condition as a habitation for mankind, yet it is to be made glorious and perfect and in its beautified state will form an everlasting dwelling place for the regenerated human race! See `Isa. 14:18`.

Are we to understand from the words of St. Peter (`2 Pet. 3:10`) that the earth is to be burned up at some time or other? And what is the meaning of the expression--"the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"

<ANSWER>--The symbolical earth of St. Peter's prophecy doubtless refers to the social order of things or organized society, represented in the various forms of government now existing. In referring to the last times or the last days, our Lord foretold a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation--`Mat. 24:21` and the scriptures in general show how this "trouble" will be developed, and that it will be so destructive in character that it will result in the dissolution of the present evil, selfish, social structure, preparatory to the establishment of the "new earth"--`verse 13`--founded upon principles of equity, justice and love. The "elements" which constitute the present "earth" or social order, are the socialistic element, the capitalistic element, the labor element, etc. Who can not see that the friction existing between the various elements is constantly increasing, and that it is a question of but short time when the friction will become so intense that the elements, bursting forth into open flame, "will melt (be dissolved) with fervent heat," and thus the entire social fabric will be destroyed? As showing that the "fire" is not literal, we have in mind the Prophet's description of this same destructive time of trouble, in which it is stated that after the "fire" has done its work, the Lord will "then" turn to the people a pure language. `Zeph. 3:8,9`.

The scriptures state that God created the Earth not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited. (`Isa. 14:18`.) And also that the earth abideth forever. (`Ecc. 1:4`.) This seems to imply that the earth will be populated forever. If this be true, where will they get their supplies from, such as coal, minerals, timber, etc. when the present sources are exhausted? (E.M.)

<ANSWER>--The earth is composed of different elements. These elements, while they may change their forms and disappear from mortal vision, always remain the same elements. No instance has ever been known of where one element changed into another. But there is constant change taking place throughout all of the realms of nature. Yet, nothing is gained, and nothing is lost. Water changes from a solid (ice) into vapor (steam) and then into its elementary gases--H2O. Then the operation is reversed. The gases change to vapor--the vapor to liquids, and the liquids to solids. We may reason from this that when the coal, minerals, timber, etc., have all been used in their present form, and having been transformed into some other state, they will be utilized in that state or condition. And this process could go on throughout eternity without exhausting in the slightest degree the original elements. The process of change is always in a circle, and all that mankind will need to do will be to follow the circle around to its initial starting point and then repeat the process throughout all the years of eternity.

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