NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH
The Holy Scriptures are abundantly clear as to the ultimate destiny of this present physical universe, including the heavens and earth where mankind now lives. The apostle Peter wrote:
“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. Seeing then that all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy living and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens, being on fire, will be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:10-13).
The apostle John adds his inspired testimony to the above when he writes: “And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11). A bit later, he said: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).
Lying behind these two inspired apostolic declarations as to the destiny of the present heavens and earth is the statement of Jesus: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Christ was the pre-incarnate Word through whom everything was made (John 1:1-3, 14).
Paul says of Christ, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth . . . All things were created by Him and for Him” (Colossians 2:16). Obviously, we should be good stewards of this present creation as long as we inhabit it. But according to our Lord’s abiding word which “will by no means pass away,” and in striking contrast to that abiding word, this present world and everything in it will be destroyed at His second coming. The heavens will pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt with fervent heat, both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up, they will flee away, and no place will be found for them! It would be difficult for plainer statements to be made concerning the destiny of this present planet and sphere of life!
Because of the ultimate destruction of this present world, Jesus urged His followers:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
It is abundantly clear from Jesus’ language that the earth is one place and heaven is another “and never the twain shall meet”! Paul urged Christians: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Yet, there is the glorious promise of “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:10). John declared: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. [They had “fled away” Revelation 20:11]. And there was no more sea. And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-2).
This is beautiful imagery describing the eternal abode of the redeemed of all the ages. The rest of Revelation 21 and 22 elaborates on the beauty, grandeur, and glory of this celestial abode.
It is to be duly noted that the holy city, the New Jerusalem, descends into “a new heaven and a new earth,” not this present heaven and present earth supposedly burned over by a global brush fire and renovated and sanitized! No not at all! Why? “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1)!
Heaven, the home of the soul, will not be here on this earth. Jesus, while still on this present earth, said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2b-3). This place is the Father’s house of many mansions/ dwelling places (John 14:2a). It is the holy city, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2). It is the “new heavens and the new earth [a new sphere of life] in which righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:13). All of these are beautiful metaphors describing heaven, the home of the redeemed, and what it will be like to be there!
September 13, 2016
September 28: Centerville Church of Christ, Centerville, TN.