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Don Stewart :: What Are the New Heavens and New Earth?

Don Stewart
When humanity sinned against God, the earth was cursed.

And to the man He [God] said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field (Genesis 3:17,18).

Heaven And Earth Will Perish

The Bible says this cursed earth along with the present heavens will one day perish.

They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away (Psalm 102:26).

New Heavens

The prophet Isaiah recorded God promising a new heavens and a new earth.

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind (Isaiah 65:17).

The glorious promise of God is that this earth will be made new. This will be a reversal of the curse of Eden.

Jesus

Jesus spoke of the renewal of all things - the time when all things are made new.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).

We have the same thing taught in the Book of Acts.

Who [Christ] must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through His holy prophets (Acts 3:21).

When Will This Happen?

There is some debate among believers as to when this renewal will happen. There are those who believe the universal restoration will occur when Christ returns and sets up His Millennial kingdom - the thousand year reign on the earth. This view does not equate the renewal that Jesus spoke about with the making of the new heavens and new earth as was prophesied by Isaiah. This will come after the Millennium.

All Things New

The Bible says God will make all things new.

And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also He said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true" (Revelation 21:5).

The present order of creation will be replaced. In this new order, the only people who exist will be God's people. They will live in the closest of relationships.

No Part

Those who have not trusted God's promises will not take part.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. . . . But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 21:8,27).

After Millennium

Scripture also says that this new heaven and a new earth will occur after the thousand year reign of Christ - the Millennium.

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 22:1).

The new heavens and earth are different from the period of the Millennium. They will replace the old cursed creation.

Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him (Revelation 22:3).

Pass Away

The present heavens, and the present earth will one day pass away. Peter wrote.

But by the same Word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless. But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home (2 Peter 3:7-13).

God, therefore will dissolve the old universe and make it new by means of fire. Many equate the renewal that Jesus spoke about with this event - the making of the new heavens and the new earth.

Our Hope

The hope of the believer is in an inheritance that will not fade away.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

A City

Heaven is called a city.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, He has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:16).

Still To Come

This city is lasting, it will not perish.

For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14).

Not Realm Of God

The Bible speaks of three heavens. The first is the atmosphere around the earth, the second is the sun moon and stars, the third heaven is the presence of God. However all three of them will not pass away. The Scripture makes it clear that sin entered only the first and second heaven, not the realm of God. God's realm was untouched by sin and remains perfect. The physical universe, however, has to be renewed. Therefore it is the first and second heaven that will be changed.

Entirely New Or Renewed?

From the passages that speak of the renewal of the heaven and the earth, it is not clear what relationship the new will have with the old. Will the old heaven and earth be merely renewed, or will it be entirely replaced. There are passages that seem to teach both. Can both be true without this being a contradiction? The answer is yes. In some sense, that is beyond our human understanding, God will remake the old universe by dissolving its elements. The result will be a new universe without sin and corruption. Although it is new, it will have some connection with the old. As is the case with the resurrected body of the believer, there is some mystery in this process. What is clear is that the present heaven and earth will pass away in the form that they are presently in and God will make something new for believers to enjoy with Him.

Summary

When Adam and Eve sinned the earth became cursed. God promised to destroy the old earth and make something new. The future home of the believer will be in the new heavens and new earth. After the final judgment, God will remake the present universe and form a new one - a universe without any remembrance of sin. Though the exact relationship between the old and the new is not entirely clear, it is clear that the new universe will be without sin.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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