NEW HEAVENS & NEW EARTH
What a wonder this universe is, isn’t it? The night sky with all its stars and the moon, the sun shining bright and hot while you’re on a beach, the sun setting over lake michigan, the ocean and all its wonder, the mountains and their majesty, the countryside on an afternoon drive, the flowers in a beautiful garden…. It is a wonderfully beautiful world, isn’t it? But it’s still going to burn.
Read 2 Peter 3:2-13 again….
Do you wonder about the future? What’s going to happen in 2024? Will America survive this downward moral and social spiral? Will the economy implode? Will China surpass us as the next superpower? Will CBDC’s replace cash? Will they ban gas stoves? Gas cars? Will they succeed in implementing the great reset and thrusting us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Where is the future heading to? What is going to happen?
Maybe you’re thinking about the future theologically: What does the Bible say is going to happen? That’s a study called “Eschatology.” You know you’re in an eschatology conversation when there’s talk of the Rapture, the Tribulation and related events. Our understanding here at EFC is that there is a coming Rapture of the Church, then a 7 year Tribulation, then the 2nd Coming of Jesus to the Earth, then His 1,000 year kingdom on the earth.
But what I want to do is press our thoughts further into the future than the rapture, than the Tribulation, than the 2nd Coming of Jesus, than the Millennial Kingdom. What’s going to happen after all these things? All of these serve a purpose in God’s plans for the full history of Adam’s race before the eternal state is established. I want to take us all the way to the New Heaven and the New Earth. Don’t get used to this one, because its not staying around for long
It helps put our lives now into perspective. We find our view lifted out of the here and now to see the long panorama of God’s plans. It reminds us and helps us keep in view the victorious ends God has foretold.
(1)CURRENT HEAVEN & EARTH
If we’re going to talk about a *new* heaven and earth we need to understand the *old* heaven and earth. The old is the one we currently have. This is the heavens and earth we read about in the very first verse of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is the earth that was destroyed by water, as 2 Peter 3:6 reminds us, “the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” As Hebrews 11:3 tells us, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible.” This universe, the material heavens and earth, were created by God’s command. It was made not by physical things, but spiritual, the spiritual preceded the physical
But the world that God created was cursed. In Genesis 3:17 God told Adam after he sinned, “Cursed is the ground because of you.” Romans 8 gives us a commentary on this curse as well. Verses 20 and 21 say, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay….” Subjected to frustration. Bondage to decay. The sin of man has brought consequences upon not just man’s condition, but the earth’s as well. Thorns, decay, death. It is because of man’s sin that the flower of the field is here today but gone tomorrow.
Thus being under a curse, subject to frustration, and in bondage to decay, this present heavens and earth are going to be destroyed. But this time it won’t be with water, it will be with fire. Second Peter 3:7 says, “By the same word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire…” Then verse 10, “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.” Then verse 12, “That day will will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” You realize Jesus wasn’t being rhetorical when he said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
As a side note, I often note the relationship between man and the earth. Both were created for each other. Man was taken from the dust of the earth when created, and in death returns to the dust. The earth is the ground we walk on, its mountains we climb, its oceans we sail, its forests we explore. We rearrange its growth into gardens and farms to make it productive. Its fruit and animals feed us. Its atmosphere enables us to breathe. It’s beauty inspires us. We are a pair, we humans and the earth. And we were the rulers of the earth – we were to subdue it and rule over it God said. And when we fell, it fell. When we were corrupted, it was corrupted. God made earth for man, and man for earth. Not just for this current order, but for the new one as well. It’s not just man who will have a new body, but, he will have a new earth for his body to dwell upon.
(2)NEW HEAVEN & EARTH
The first mention of a new heaven and new earth is Isaiah 65:17. Then again in the next chapter. In Isaiah 66:22, God says, “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me…” After that we see Peter mention it in his 2nd letter, and then finally Revelation 21 does too.
What can we learn about this new heaven and new earth? I want to take us to a few passages and make a few points about the new heavens and new earth.
First, the new heavens and new earth are the home of righteousness. Turn to 2 Peter 3:13 with me… This is the home of righteousness. It is the exact opposite of the current heavens and earth which are under the power of the evil one. This heavens and earth are ruled by the spirit of this age, the age of darkness, corruption, evil. The coming heavens and earth will be ruled by the spirit of righteousness, light and truth. The wicked find this heaven and earth a home whereas the righteous do not.
But the righteous will “be home” in the new heaven and earth where there will be no wicked. It is the climactic end times separation – when the wicked are separated out from society permanently and only the righteous go on into this new world. As an example of this very point, turn to Isaiah 66:23-24 with me. Notice the righteous in the new heavens and new earth will worship God, be blessed, have eternal life and bliss. But, the wicked will be in the new heavens and new earth as well. There will be a designated area in the new creation where they will be visible to all the righteous in the eternal kingdom. The righteous will not only be able to go look on them, but Isaiah says that they will go out and look on them.
This idea of separating the wicked from the righteous is picked up in Revelation also. Chapter 22 says the wicked will not enter the New Jerusalem, but will be “outside.” Turn to 21:1-8 with me…..Do you see it? In the new order comes and God establishes the new heaven and new earth, the home of righteousness, the wicked will be in the lake of fire. So while the righteous will not be touched by the lake of fire, and they will not suffer it in any way, they will nonetheless be able to go look upon those who are suffering in it. There will be no one who is wicked, deceptive, immoral, perverse, who practices magic arts, who is cowardly murderous, idolatrous, vile or unbelieving who will LIVE AMONG the righteous in the new heavens and new earth. It is the final, permanent separation of the wicked and the righteous.
Second, the new heavens and new earth will come at the end of the age. Turn to Revelation 21:1 with me…. As you read through Revelation you can see the large movements of history: chapters 6-19 describe the Great Tribulation, chapter 19 ends with the glorious and globally visible return of Jesus Christ to the earth to destroy the nations. Then chapter 20 tells us after that Jesus will reign over the earth for 1,000 years, at the end of which Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire, and the Great White Throne of Judgment will be setup, where the dead will be judged for their works and then thrown into the Lake of Fire with Satan and his angels, and so will Death and Hades. So follow this: Tribulation, Christ returns, 1000 yr kingdom, Heaven and earth disappear, GWT judgment, THEN A NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH. The rest of Revelation describes this eternal state of the universe.
Turn back to 2 Peter 3:7 with me….The judgment is at the end of the age. Not only is God going to judge the ungodly on the day of Judgment, but also the heavens and the earth. Remember back to Revelation 20, that at the end of the 1000 year kingdom the GWT would be setup to judge the ungodly. Did you see what it said about the universe? Verse 11 said, “The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.” You see the consistency: end of the age, judgment of ungodly and burning of the heavens and earth.
(3)HOW THEN SHOULD WE LIVE
- Live separated lives now. 2 Peter 3. Be an ambassador of righteousness, an ambassador of the righteous world that is coming. Show you are one of those whom God will live with in that new order by living for Him now.
- Face this world with great confidence.
- No victory for evil now will last. But when the victory of righteousness comes it will last for eternity. Psalm 73
- Lastly, when will you trade your place in the lake of fire for a place in the new heavens and new earth? How on earth can you risk your eternity another day by continuing to refuse Jesus Christ? Get up and come to Jesus today – now even!