Saturday, July 2, 2022

The New Heaven and New Earth

by James C. Morris –  

After the Millennium, the scriptures that describe the final rebellion of mankind at its end, and the judgment of God that will fall upon the rebels, as described in Revelation 20:7-10. This will be followed by the second resurrection and the judgment of the wicked dead, as described in the rest of Revelation 20. (verses11-25) Then, the next thing the Holy Spirit said, was, 1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” (Revelation 20:1) Here, there is no description of, and there are no details given about, the passing away of “the first heaven and first earth.” All we are told is that, at the time of this vision, that will have already happened. But another scripture gives us a few details about that event. For we read in 2 Peter 3:10-12, 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which 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. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” So the present (first) heavens will be burned, and the present (first) earth will “melt with fervent heat.”

We remember that, after the great flood of Genesis, God promised Noah that “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11) And 2 Peter 3:6-7 reminds us of that promise, saying, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” So we are explicitly told that the present heavens and the present earth will be destroyed by fire. But that is not the end of the story. For 2 Peter goes on to say, 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

We are told very few details about this “new heavens” and “new earth.” but in Revelation 21:1 we are told, as noted above, “Also there was no more sea.” And in Isaiah we are told:

4 Every valley shall be exalted

And every mountain and hill brought low;

The crooked places shall be made straight

And the rough places smooth.” (Isaiah 40:4)

Of course, when we think about it, this is exactly the result we would expect, when the earth will be melted “with fervent heat.” All high places and low places will be eliminated, for when everything is reduced to a liquid, the top becomes level. And when it cools, it will all be a vast plain, with neither hills nor valleys. Some have mistakenly assumed that this change will be made at the time of the millennium. But concerning the time of the millennium, we are explicitly told:

1 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days

That the mountain of the LORD'S house

Shall be established on the top of the mountains,

And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it.

2 Many nations shall come and say,

Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

To the house of the God of Jacob;

He will teach us His ways,

And we shall walk in His paths.’

For out of Zion the law shall go forth,

And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:1-2)

So that cannot be the time when

Every valley shall be exalted

And every mountain and hill brought low.”

This change is mentioned in a few other scriptures. In Isaiah the Lord said, 17 For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17) And, “ ‘22 For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,’ says the LORD, ‘So shall your descendants and your name remain.” (Isaiah 66:22)

And in the epistle to the Hebrews, the Holy Spirit said::

10 You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,

And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

11 They will perish, but You remain;

And they will all grow old like a garment;

12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,

And they will be changed.

But You are the same,

And Your years will not fail.” (Hebrews 1:10-12)

And finally, in Hebrews 12:26-27 the Holy Spirit quoted from His previous words in Haggai 2:6. Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” He then continues, saying, 27 Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

This is basically everything that our God has told us about this event. But one major question about it is how the righteous will be preserved at that time. And that is simply not directly revealed. But how it will be accomplished is revealed in the next detail we are given. For:

2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2)

So the righteous will “come down out of heaven” to the new earth. This indirectly reveals that they will have been removed from the old earth before it was destroyed.

Finally, we see that the physical changes brought about by this event will be very great, as both mountains and valleys will be eliminated, and “there was no more sea.” But the moral change that will occur at that time will be even greater, for 2 Peter 3:13 tells us that “righteousness dwells” there.

Concerning the time of the millennum, the Lord says:

8 Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land,

That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.” (Psalm 101:8)

The Hebrew word here translated “early” is בקר, boqer in our alphabet, word number 1242 in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. This word translates literally as “morning,” but it means early morning, as at the crack of dawn. And it seems to indicate that this will be a judgment of the wicked that will take place every morning. Further, we remember that Zechariah 14:17-19 tells us about the judgments of the nations that fail to take part in the annual worship at the feast of Tabernacles. And Isaiah 65:20 says that “the sinner, being one hundred years old, shall be accursed.” So during the millennium, evil will be restrained. But here, in the eternal state, it will be eliminated, and righteousness “dwells” there. But there is more.

3 And I heard a loud voice fromowheaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ ” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Evil having been permanently put away, it will now be possible for God to dwell in the midst of His people. He “Himself will be with them and be their God.” Truly it will be heaven on earth. And “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” As “the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23) sin being done away with, death also ceases to be. As we are told that 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) So, in this mew heavens and new earth, “there shall be no more death.”

And the description ends with the words:

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ 6 And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idol­aters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’” (Revelation 21:5-8)

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