What are “the ends of the earth?”
The son of a controversial political figure said recently in support of his near term end father, “You have a man who would get followed to the ends of the earth… his opportunities are endless.” As I read that statement the idea of the many following the one “to the ends of the earth” stuck out to me. I kept reading, but the thought lingered. Just what were “the ends of the earth” anyway? – and why would anyone want to get there?
Turns out the phrase actually derives from the Bible! Speaking of the coming great King of Zion Zechariah proclaims,
“He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River [i.e., the Euphrates] to the ends of the earth.” (Zech. 9:10).
William Caxton, the first to utilize a printing press in England, appears also to be the earliest to use the phrase since the prophet. In his 1483 translation of J. de Voragine’s Golden Legende he writes, in the vernacular of his day, “And all the endes of the erthe shal worshipe the Nacions shal come to the fro ferre and bryngyng yeftes shal worshype in the our lord.” But it was not until the 19th century that the phrase became more widely used.
The phrase means “to extend to the furthest reach of man’s dominion, as opposed to the heavens.” In current usage it means “To follow one anywhere, including the most remote or inaccessible places.”
Well, I have no desire to follow any man there. I have a nobler goal in mind, a higher call… and so do you, if you are a believer and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ… if you have repented, turned, committed your very soul into His keeping and seek daily to deepen your walk with Him.
Some years after Caxton (c1521) Martin Luther penned the words to an enduring hymn, the closing lines of which declare
“…Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.” (A Mighty Fortress, Martin Luther, c.1521).
His kingdom, God’s kingdom, extends far, far beyond “the ends of the earth.” His kingdom is forever! — I, for one, will follow Him.