Sep 02

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Have you ever read, or seen an article written on the subject: “The World and the Earth,” before the ones you are now reading? To the best of my memory, I have not! Just because few, if any, have written on this subject, does not in itself, make it necessary that articles be written; however, the reason these articles are written is because we have a tenuously to read the words “world” as “earth” as meaning the same thing. This produces a mis-understanding in the mind and more than likely a failure to understand the text.
There are any number of texts, wherein the two words would give a different understanding (meaning) of the text, had the writer used the word “world” and not the word “earth.” Let us look at one such text, just here. On the day of Pentecost, after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, Peter quoted the words of Joel: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (18) And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (19) And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: (20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (21) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21, Joel 2:28-32). This text has been mis-understood by many, for many years and no doubt such will continue; however, it is not our purpose here to bring out the meaning of Joel’s words as quoted by Peter. Our purpose is to notice the word “earth” in verse 19: “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke.” Question, where were the “signs” to take place? Peter said, they were to be “in the earth.” The Greek word he used is “ge” and it means: “1) arable land 2) the ground, the earth as a standing place 3) the main land as opposed to the sea or water 4) the earth as a whole 4a) the earth as opposed to the heavens 4b) the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals 5) a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region” (Strong). This is all that Strong gives and it is thought necessary to give the full meaning; so, the reader will be able to see it all. Now, notice the first meaning: “arable land.” The word “arable” means: “fit for or used for the growing of crop arable land.” (Merriam-Webster). So, the “land,” the “earth,” at the time these “signs” would take place was a “fit” land unto the purpose of the “signs!” Therefore, it would appear, that the “earth” was not always “arable” land! But, starting here without trying to prove, that the “land,” the “earth” was fit for all the “signs” leading up to and during the A.D. 70 destruction of Judea (Jerusalem) and that the “land,” the “earth” was properly prepared for the events that fall into the figurative language: “signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: (20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come” (verse 19-20). Please notice here, that the prophecy of Joel used the word “before,” “before that great and notable (Joel, “terrible”) day of the Lord come;” therefore, the “signs” would start “before that great and notable day of the Lord came,” referring to the destruction of Jerusalem! Though these words are directed at the ‘earth,” and not the “world,” the inhabitants of the land of Judea, nevertheless, the people would suffer severely!! Therefore, Joel and Peter are pointing in the direction of the utter physical destruction of the “land!” Jesus will help us get the picture of what (things on the land) Joel said in referring to the event: “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Jesus is pointing to the temple area, Matt. 24:2).
On the other hand, Jesus in Matthew twenty-four, pointed to the personal, physical, suffering! He said: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows. (9) Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (10) And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another (Matt. 24:7-10). It was not a pretty sight, but one of utter personal suffering and destruction!
Now, let us be honest! Have you ever noticed the fact that Joel’s prophecy used the word “earth” and not the word “world,” in the text? More than likely, you have never paid any attention to the little word “earth,” in this text! It can make a real difference in our being able to understand the text!

–Frank R. Williams

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