Scriptures

New Heavens And A New Earth

Introduction

There are many theories about the phrase, ‘new heavens and a new earth’ but probably the most common theory is that the phrase means that the present Earth is going to undergo some kind of renovation, some kind of cleaning process using fire, so that it becomes like it was in the beginning when God created it and so, it will become our new heaven. The problem is, this theory doesn’t correspond with what the Scriptures actually teach.

This present earth is to pass away

Notice the following Scriptures.

‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’ Matthew 24:35

‘In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.’ Hebrews 1:10-12

‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed it’s coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.’ 2 Peter 3:10-12

Our eternal dwelling place is heaven

‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.’ 1 Peter 1:3-4

Context! Context! Context!

When it comes to understanding any Scripture, we must always keep the text in its context. With this in mind, let’s go to the Scriptures where we first find the phrase, ‘new heavens and a new earth.’

‘See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.’ Isaiah 65:17

The apostle Peter declared by inspiration that all the Old Testament prophecies pertaining to Christ are fulfilled in the present age, Acts 3:19-26, which is the last days, Acts 2:16-17, or last age, 1 Corinthians 10:11, that is the age when God speaks through His Son.

‘In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.’ Hebrews 1:1-2

Now some people object to these truths by pointing to Isaiah’s prophecy of ‘new heavens and a new earth’ and argue that these prophecies haven’t been fulfilled. I guess we need to ask the question, what is this ‘new heavens and a new earth’? Has this prophecy of Isaiah been fulfilled or not?

Notice that Isaiah twice foretold the ‘new heavens and a new earth’. Isaiah 65:17 / Isaiah 66:22, the apostle Peter did so too, 2 Peter 3:13, and so did the apostle John, Revelation 21:1.

But what do they mean when they use this phrase?

Let’s take a moment to go through each one whilst keeping each one in their context.

‘See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.’ Isaiah 65:17

The apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1-2, the beginning of the context, and applies them to the present age, Romans 10:20-21. Notice how Isaiah’s prophecy ends.

‘They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the LORD.’ Isaiah 65:25

The words, ‘my holy mountain’ is a clue that identifies the time and nature of the fulfilment. The prophecy of the Lord’s ‘holy mountain’ relates to the first coming of Christ, Isaiah 11:1-2 / Isaiah 11:9 / Isaiah 61:1-2 / Luke 4:16-21 and is a figurative term for the rule of Christ in His church, His kingdom, Isaiah 2:1-4 / Hebrews 12:22-23 / Hebrews 12:28. The nature of this kingdom is spiritual rather than material, John 18:36 / Romans 14:17.

In other words, ‘the new heavens and a new earth’ of Isaiah 65:17 is the present divine order under the rule of Christ and the spiritual dwelling place for the people of God, the church.

‘As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure.’ Isaiah 66:22

In this chapter Isaiah refers to this same ‘new heavens and the new earth’. The context here is a prophecy of Christ coming into the world and establishing His church, Isaiah 66:7-9 / Micah 5:2-3 / Revelation 12:1-11.

In other words, Isaiah 66:22 is a continuation of the promise of Isaiah 65:17 and likewise relates to the present rule of Christ over His kingdom, the church.

‘But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.’ 2 Peter 3:13

Now this passage is in a totally different context, Peter is warning against scoffers who deny that Christ will come again, 2 Peter 3:1-4. And so, he assures us that the promise of the Lord’s return will be fulfilled, 2 Peter 3:5-9, at which time ‘the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.’ 2 Peter 3:10

But notice there is nothing in the passage or even the context for that matter which indicates Peter is speaking figuratively, therefore we should take the warning literally. This present universe is destined for sudden, fiery, divine destruction. This shouldn’t worry the Christians because Peter says,

‘we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells’, 2 Peter 3:13

In other words, in harmony with the meaning of the phrase ‘new heavens and a new earth,’ we await a new order of things and a new dwelling place. This is a home in heaven, 1 Peter 1:3-5, in which we will have glorious, immortal, spiritual bodies like that of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 / 1 John 3:2.

‘Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.’ Revelation 21:1

John likewise saw in a vision this new order of things after the return of the Lord in which the death, sickness, pain, suffering, and sorrow of this present age shall have passed away and God once more dwells with His people and this for all eternity, Revelation 21:2-5.

Conclusion

Common sense tells us that if the Christian is promised ‘heaven’ which is our final dwelling place, and yet we’re also promised a ‘new heavens and a new earth,’ this tells us that the ‘new heavens and new earth’ represents the same state as heaven.

All the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ, most of which were both figurative and spiritual, are indeed fulfilled in the New Testament age. The ‘new heavens and a new earth’ of Isaiah are the rule of Christ over His spiritual kingdom, His church.

So, what does the phrase mean in the New Testament?

It simply means, its symbolic of heaven itself, nothing more, nothing less. There are yet ‘new heavens and a new earth’ in store for Christians at the Lord’s return, it will be a wonderful home in heaven where everlasting joy awaits. No wonder John writes,

‘Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.’ Revelation 22:20

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Hebrews 4:16

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