One of the regular readers of this forum sent me an email a few days ago introducing an interesting point. I thought it might be beneficial to share the insight. – Meleti
My first point relates to the “ruining of the Earth” mentioned at Revelation 11:18. The organization appears to always apply this statement to the ruining of the physical environment of the planet. It is true that damage to the environment on the scale that we are now seeing is a peculiarly modern problem and it is thus very tempting to read Revelation 11:18 as prophesying pollution in the last days. However, when you consider the scriptural context in which the statement is made, is seems out of place. How so?
Well before mentioning those ruining the Earth, the verse seems to make a point of emphasizing that all Jehovah’s servants, the great and the small, would be favorably rewarded. With this context set, it would seem reasonable that the verse would go on to likewise make the point that all the wicked, the great and the small, would be brought to ruin. Why would the verse, in an almost paraprosdokian manner, pass up mentioning murderers, fornicators, thieves, those who practice spiritism, etc., as receiving adverse judgment in favor of mentioning ONLY those ruining the environment?
I think it’s more reasonable to interpret the phrase “those ruining the Earth” as an all-encompassing expression referring to all practicers of sin as they all contribute to the ruining of the FIGURATIVE earth—the global human society. Of course, those wantonly ruining the physical environment would also be included. But the statement is not especially singling them out. It encompasses ALL unrepentant practicers of sin. This interpretation seems to better harmonize with the context of all the righteous being rewarded, great and small.
Also, given that it is a known fact that the book of Revelation borrows a lot of the stories and imagery from the Hebrew Scriptures. It is very interesting to note that Revelation’s use of the phrase “ruining the Earth” appears to be a borrowing or paraphrasing of language found at Genesis 6:11,12 where the Earth is said to be “ruined” because all flesh had ruined its way. Was it especially because of physical environmental pollution that the Earth was said to be ruined in Noah’s day? No, it was the wickedness of the people. It seems very probable that Revelation 11:18 is actually borrowing the language of Genesis 6:11,12 by using the phrase “ruining the Earth” and is using it in the same manner that Genesis 6:11,12 speaks about the Earth being ruined. In fact, the NWT even cross-references Revelation 11:18 with Genesis 6:11.