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121. Will Humans Colonize the Cosmos Before Jesus Returns?

Scripture says everyone on Earth will see Jesus Christ’s glorious appearing, which could make a confusing future for people not living on Earth.
Fantastical Truth on Jul 19, 2022 · No comments

Here’s a topic we have been postponing for quite a while, and it’s summarized by a simple question: If we as Christians believe Jesus will come back to judge all people and rule the planet in person, what about any space travelers or colonies at that time? In other words, if our Lord returns to Earth, what happens to people who aren’t on Earth? Today we will explore these possible prophetic conundrums and speculate on some solutions.

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Concession stand, full of space-age snacks

  • We’ll talk about Christ’s return, but less about events preceding this.
  • That means that, for today only, we’ll stay agnostic about the rapture.
  • We focus on the promise in which all Christians share: his physical return.
  • As Christians, we believe in a physical return to Earth before Christ will rule.
  • We also assume that Jesus already reigns today, though not yet in Person.
  • This time we’ll not talk about those aliens (we recently did this). Just people.
  • We’ll refer to Scripture verses and try to cite them, including the following.

Key verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

—1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV)

Stephen’s 2017 article summarized the problem:

If people colonize the moon, Mars, or [other] planets, what happens when Jesus returns? . . .

Whatever your end-times view, all Christians believe Jesus will physically return to Earth. The problem is, these biblical texts are entirely Earth-focused. For example, John writes:

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” [Revelation 1:7]

This concept already causes some difficulties when you consider time zones. The final Left Behind novel, Glorious Appearing, tried to solve this by hinting that believers on the other side of the world (opposite Israel, naturally) somehow saw a vision of Jesus returning over there.

But it causes even more difficulties to hypothetical residents of spheres that are not earth.

—from “Will Christians Colonize the Cosmos?“, Feb. 23, 2017, on Speculative Faith

Other articles we mention:

Option 1: Humans never colonize space before Jesus returns

Option 2: Humans colonize space, yet everyone sees Jesus return

Option 3: Humans colonize space, but retreat to Earth just in time

Epilogue: In any case, after Christ’s return, we’ll likely colonize space

I checked. Even if my little argument is true—that Jesus can’t return if some people aren’t on Earth for the event—I read nothing against space travel after Jesus returns.

Jesus’s adopted daughters and sons are destined to rule under Him on New Heavens and New Earth. This is a physical paradise for physical, super-embodied (but embodied) people to live. New Earth is this planet, fire-purged of all sin, not replaced with some other existence mode, but renewed almost like our resurrected bodies will be renewed.10 And New Heavens will surely be this selfsame universe, melted down and made like new.

Why then wouldn’t we explore New Heavens for the glory of their Creator and Savior?

Why wouldn’t we use science and technology, good tools humans managed to create per God’s command in Genesis 1:28, to build better and faster ships and depart this Earth (only temporarily!) on journeys of wonder and discovery? Why not settle on the Moon? On Mars? Maybe even on other planets we could not survive on before?

And even assuming we get no “cheat codes” from the Creator of physical laws themselves, why couldn’t we also develop something like warp drive to reach those seven planets? Even without such technology, we would have eternity to wait for slow ships to reach them.

Either way, I’m sure the best space missions await in eternity. But I’d love to see more now, if for no other reason than to ensure we don’t forget the awesomeness of God’s creation.

—from “Will Christians Colonize the Cosmos?“, Feb. 23, 2017, on Speculative Faith

Meanwhile at Lorehaven

  • See last week’s Josiah DeGraaf article about supporting fiction that’s good.
  • On this Friday, July 22, watch for our advance review of Blood Secrets.
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Next on Fantastical Truth

Zack and Stephen have both hit the American roads, though heading in opposite directions. Meanwhile, many fans are separating fast from franchises once thought too big to fail. Star Wars, DC, Marvel, Amazon’s try at Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who—they’re all coming in for much criticism. Some call this “toxic fandom.” Others say this is fans keeping creators accountable for bad art or canon violations. As biblical Christians, how do we respond to these controversies with discernment?

Fantastical Truth
Fantastical Truth

Lorehaven explores fantastical stories for God's glory: fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond.

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