David Jeremiah - The New Heaven and the New Earth
Within the heart of every man and woman there lies a longing for a golden age on this earth. It is as if we all know that our paradise was lost in the Garden of Eden, and we hunger to have it restored. We want it back. This thought is expressed in the promises of politicians every year. Every election year they promise us, often in eloquent terms, that they have been called of God to bring the nation into the golden era of prosperity. We've had the Great Society, the New Deal; name it, we've had it all. The political promise has appeal to us in our own hearts because it strikes at this deep chord of hope that is within every one of us.
You can hear it in the dreams of the poets and you can read it in the literature of the authors. Many books have been written, depicting a Utopia, a time of freedom from struggle and from famine, and from death and hurt and wars. Many groups have from time to time actually tried to produce this Utopia. You can read about it in the history books. If you've read the writings of the Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, you know that he tried to organize a Utopian colony in southern Russia. Others have tried this too. Henry David Thoreau advocated that kind of thing in the woods of New England. Many have sought to rebuild Eden on this earth.
And that is what lies behind the hope of the communism that is in our world today and of the writings of Lenin. He captured the imagination of many of the people with the hope that communism would be the means of producing a workers' paradise, a Utopia upon this earth. These longings are evident in the expressions of many people's hearts and they're in the speculations of many of the philosophers of our world. All through the history of our race, this hope has emerged from time to time with the anticipation of an era when the earth would be at peace and at rest and we would experience the golden age.
This is exactly what the Lord himself taught us to pray when he gave us the Lord's Prayer. When you pray the Lord's Prayer and you say, "Thy kingdom come, on earth, as it is in heaven," that is what you are praying for: that the conditions in heaven will be found at last on this earth. Now, those of us who have some theology know that that is not gonna ever happen during the current reign of death on this earth. But it is the hope that is in every heart. This is the proper expectation of the people of God. It is in the Lord's Prayer and we are taught to pray this by the Spirit of the Lord.
And this is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he was describing some people who had suffered greatly and were managing to get through that suffering because they had a hope. It says, "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country". They have a hope within them and it was the hope for that eternal Utopia that got them through the tough times of suffering. Whether we know it or not, men and women, we're homesick for the Garden of Eden. In every being, there is a desire for what our first parents enjoyed. We desire a perfect and a beautiful earth. We want everything restored that was lost. We can't help ourselves, it's programmed into the software of our humanity. This dream finds its expression in many beautiful passages in the Scripture, both in the Old Testament and in the New.
So I want to go with you first of all to the promise of a new heaven and a new earth. That's Roman numeral I, "The Promise of a New Heaven and a New Earth". If you read the Bible carefully, you will discover that salted throughout the Scripture are little promises that this is what is going to happen. For instance, in Isaiah chapter 66 and verse 22, we read: "'For the new heavens and the new earth which I will make will remain before me,' says the Lord". Isaiah envisions a time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth and it will last forever. He said, "It will be before me forever". Later on, Isaiah also reports that this new heaven and this new earth will be so wonderful, so completely beautiful, that it will cause us to forget what we know about the earth as it is today.
Listen to Isaiah 65:17: "And behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or even come to mind". Peter suggests that this new heaven and this new earth will be a place where righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13, we read these words: "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells". Over in Hebrews chapter 1, verses 10 through 12, the writer of Hebrews quotes a Psalm with these words and he says: "And: 'You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all grow old like a garment,'" now watch this. "Like a cloak you will fold them up, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not fail".
The writer of Hebrews says one day God is gonna take this world just like you would take a coat when you're taking it off after church and you're gonna fold it up and put it away. God's gonna take this world and, like a garment, he's gonna fold it up and then he's gonna change everything. Notice what the writer John says from his position on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation chapter 21 and verse 1 and then verse 5. Here's what he says: "Now 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. Then he who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'" That's the promise of a new heaven. Almighty God has said to us through John the apostle that one day he is going to make everything about this earth and these heavens new. Now I wanna talk with you secondly about "The Purification of the New Heaven and the New Earth".
First of all, let's look, A, at some information. Turn now in your Bibles away from Revelation chapter 21, back just a few books, to 2 Peter. 2 Peter chapter 3. Now, as you're finding your way in 2 Peter, let me just tell you that when you put together all of the information in the Old and the New Testaments, you discover that the new heaven and the new earth will not appear until the following things happen. First of all, there will be a time of Tribulation, 7 years, at the end of which there will be a great battle called the Battle of Armageddon. Then there will be ushered in a period of time for 1000 years called the Millennium and I'm gonna talk about that next week.
At the end of the Millennium there will be a final rebellion and Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. The Great White Throne judgment will take place and all those who have rejected Christ throughout history will be coming before the Great White Throne judgments to hear these words: "Depart from me. I never knew you". And all of the evil of the earth will be judged and sent to the lake of fire. Immediately after that, John 21 says Almighty God is going to purify the earth. Now watch what happens. Almighty God is going to do something that most people are quite surprised to learn about. 2 Peter 3:10 through 12 says: "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. The heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat".
That is going to happen according to the Scripture immediately after the Millennial period, after the 1000-year reign of Christ on this earth, Almighty God is going to do a purifying work on the earth as we see it today. Now, what does the Bible mean when it says that heaven and earth will pass away? For as long as I can remember, I have believed that this earth and the heavens that surround it would be annihilated, totally destroyed. Often I've heard preachers describe this in dramatic sermons as they talk about the holocaust, as they talk about the coming days when the atomic bombs and the hydrogen bombs and the neutons would all be destroyed and everything would be totally, totally annihilated. In other words, God was going to give up on this world, totally wipe it out and start all over from scratch.
I now realize that I was mistaken in my understanding, and so are many others, as I have learned. I am comforted by the knowledge that many teachers who have had thought processes like my own confessed to having believed that and then having discovered as they've studied the Bible that that wasn't true. In fact, one young man who is a great student of heaven, he's written a tremendous book on the subject called, "Heaven," Randy Alcorn, says this in his book. Listen to this: "For many years as a Bible student and later as a pastor, I didn't think in terms of renewal or restoration. Instead, I believed God was going to destroy the earth, abandon his original design and plan, and start over by implementing a new plan in an unearthly heaven. Only in the past 15 years have my eyes been opened to what Scripture has said all along".
Now let's look once more at this passage in 2 Peter. Notice what he says: "Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up, and the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire". The word "burned up" in that passage of Scripture does not appear that way in the early Greek manuscripts. In fact, if you have a copy of the New International Version it translates that phrase "laid bare". The actual word in the text conveys the idea of being uncovered or laid open for exposure. In other words, Peter is not talking about destroying the earth, but rather about purifying the earth. The basic materials of the earth's structure will not be annihilated but will undergo tremendous processes of disintegration, as Peter's language implies here. All the age-long evidences of decay wrought into the earth's crusts, especially the fossils and the cemeteries and other monuments of the reign of death will be completely destroyed.
Then, as the material elements of the former earth begin to fall together again after this holocaust, God will once more exercise his creative power and will create and make the new heavens and the new earth. Another key word in this passage is the word "new". Notice in your Bible he's going to make all things new. In what sense is the new heavens and the new earth new? Well, there are two words in the Greek language that are translated by the word "new". And the one that is translated here is the word that means not new as opposed to having not existed before. It describes something that is new, not in time, but in quality. In the case of the new heaven and the new earth, it is a word that describes not something that never existed before, but rather something that has been in existence but has been renovated and refreshed from the ruin and the decay of the past.
In other words, what Peter is telling us is that in that moment of time at the end of the Millennium, as God is preparing for the eternal state, he is going to do a refreshing of the earth. He's going to destroy all the evidences of decay, all the evidences of disobedience and disease and everything that still will be inherent in the world. And he's gonna destroy all of that. But he is not going to destroy the world. He's not going to annihilate the world in which you and I currently live. He's going to purify it. He's going to make it new in the sense of being fresh. He's gonna make it new in the sense of being purified from all of the old corruption.
Now, since this is such a different understanding of this passage than is often presented, and I believed I knew what this meant, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't the only one who understood this. You know, if you're the only one who believes something from the Bible, you probably better not go around talking about it. If it's new, it's not true, right? So whenever I come to something like this, where I've got a little bit of a change in the paradigm of prophecy, I go immediately and I try to find everything I can read on it to make sure I'm not the lone ranger out here and hanging out on a limb by myself. Not that I'm a coward or anything, but you understand what I'm saying.
So I read numerous commentaries on these passages and I want you to hear what a couple of other people have said. First of all, listen to what Henry Morris says about this passage. You know what? I'll go to war with Henry Morris on the Bible 'cause I know he knows the Word of God, and this is what he says: "In both the Old and New Testament passages, the words for 'new' mean 'new in respect to existence.' That is, 'a new heaven and a new earth' could be properly translated 'a fresh heaven and a fresh earth.' It is just like the first, except that all of its age-long ravages of decay have been expunged and it is fresh and new again".
William Hendriksen who is a very, very well-known commentator writes it this way. He said, "The first heavens and the first earth have passed away. The very foundations of the earth have been subjected to purifying fire. Every stain of sin, every trace of death, has been removed. Out of the great conflagration a new universe has been born". The word used in the original implies that it was new but not other. It is a new world but not another world. "It is the same heaven and the same earth, but gloriously rejuvenated".
John Piper, a more modern scholar, has written: "What happens to our bodies and what happens to the creation go together. And what happens to our bodies is not annihilation but redemption. Our bodies will be redeemed, restored, made new, not thrown away. And so it is with the heavens and the earth". When God created the heavens and the earth, in the book of Genesis, I just read it again this week, over and over again as he completed every part of the Creation, what did he say? "And God saw that it was," what? "Good". And when he got all the way done, his very last statement, what did he say? "And God saw that it was very good". There is no evidence that he has ever changed his mind. His purpose is not to abandon his creation. His purpose is to restore it.
Anthony Hoekema says, "If God would have to annihilate the present world, Satan would have won a great victory. Satan would have succeeded in so devastatingly corrupting the present earth that God could do nothing with it but blot it out totally in existence. But Satan did not win such a victory. On the contrary, Satan has been decisively defeated and God will reveal the full dimensions of that defeat when he shall renew this very earth, on which Satan deceived mankind and finally banished from it all the results of Satan's evil machinations".
And Randy Alcorn writes: "God doesn't throw away his handiwork and start from scratch. Instead, he uses the same canvas to repair and make more beautiful the painting that was marred by the vandal. The vandal doesn't get the satisfaction of destroying his rival's masterpiece. On the contrary, God makes an even greater masterpiece out of what his enemy sought to destroy". Are you with me? Are we all together here?
All right, we've talked about the information and the interpretation. Now I wanna give you an illustration. And isn't it wonderful that the illustration's right in the Bible? Right in the same passage of 2 Peter. So hold your Bibles open now to 2 Peter and I want you to see something that will help you realize how accurate this interpretation really is. Read with me from 2 Peter chapter 3, verses 5 through 7. 2 Peter chapter 3, verses 5 through 7. This is about the flood that took place during the time of Noah. Are you with me?
Here we go, 2 Peter chapter 3, verse 5: "For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and the perdition of ungodly men". Now what could this possibly have to do with the new heavens and new earth? Listen now, carefully, 'cause this is key. Peter gives to us the key of understanding fire by telling us about water. He helps us comprehend the meaning of the final purging of the heaven and earth by describing the earlier purification that took place in the days of Noah.
Now, I wanna ask you some questions. Did the flood in Noah's time annihilate the earth? Did it? The flood was certainly destructive and cataclysmic but it did not obliterate the world. God preserved Noah and his family so that they could reinhabit the world that was made ready for them by the cleansing and purification of the flood. In the same manner, God will not cause the present earth to cease to exist by the fire that will come at the end of the age. The fire will have a much greater purifying effect upon the world than water did but it will not destroy the world. And just as Noah and his family were protected in the ark, God's people will be protected in the New Jerusalem which we discovered recently is not on the earth yet but is hovering above the earth. That will be our ark of safety during the purification of the earth.
So we have the promise of a new heaven and earth and we have the purification of the new heaven and earth. And now I wanna give you, thirdly, some principles of the new heaven and earth, which are truly, they are, they set you back on your heels, I'll tell you. 'Cause I wanna tell you what this is all gonna be like. When this new heaven and new earth is finished and God has purified it, and it's still the same earth and still the same heaven, but it has been purged, it's been made fresh, and all of the sin stains are gone, and all the evidences of death are gone and all the signs of disease are gone, what is the world gonna be like then? Well, go back to Revelation 21 with me, verse 1, and let me give you one thing we know for sure. And this will shock some of you, it may even disappoint some of you, but I hope you'll be all right with it when we get done.
Revelation 21:1 says: "Now 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". Now all of us who moved out here to California so we'd get next to the ocean and you're standing up here and telling me that I moved out here for nothing 'cause when God gets done with this place he's gonna wipe out the ocean. That's what it says, isn't it? There will be no more sea. What part of that don't you understand? The Apostle John says, "There will be no more sea". Now watch carefully. Since three-fourths of the globe today is under water, a new world without any sea would certainly be new. From his vast knowledge of Creation, once again, Dr. Henry Morris explains the nature of the apostle's statement.
Listen: "There will be, in fact," says Henry Morris, "no need for a sea on the new earth. The present sea is needed as a basic reservoir for the maintenance of the hydrologic cycle. In the new earth, all men and women who live there will have their glorified bodies with no more need of water. Their resurrected bodies will be composed, like that of the Lord Jesus, of flesh and bone and apparently with no need of blood to serve as a cleanser and restorer of the body's flesh as it is in present. This, in turn," he says, "eliminates the major need for water on Earth (blood is 90% water, and present day human flesh is 65% water)". In other words, the way that we live ecologically in the new world will be totally different than the way we live now.
You say, "Well, I can't imagine a world that's beautiful without the sea". Well, don't forget, that in the New Jerusalem flowing down from the throne of God there is a river, and it is a great river that runs out into tributaries and it's fresh water, not salt water. Because, you see, salt is a preservative so that decay won't take place. But in the new heavens and the new earth there'll be no decay. There'll be no need for salt. And the fresh waters will flow out throughout the world and it'll be more beautiful than anything you can imagine, with the trees that are growing side by side along the river with different fruits every month which you can pick off and eat and with leaves that provide a quality of life that is beyond anything we have ever known.
So give God just a little bit of credit here that if he made the seas in the first place and they're attractive to us, when he remakes the earth and makes it fresh, watch what he does. No more sea. The removal of the sea is the first thing I want you to note. Secondly, I want you to note the reversal of the curse. Notice verse 3 of chapter 22 in Revelation. Revelation 22:3: "And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and the servants shall serve Him". Now, what is the curse? It's not what you hear at work every week. It's not the language of the street. The curse is a particular event that took place and you remember when that happened. In the Garden of Eden because man violated God's commands, God cursed the earth.
Let me refresh your memory. Go back with me to the book of Genesis chapter 3. Genesis 3 and following, verse 17. Here's the curse: "Then to Adam God said, 'Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat of it": Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. But thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread 'til you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.'" That's the curse. It's the curse of death and decay.
Now, the Bible says when we get to the new heaven and the new earth there'll be no more curse. The curse will be reversed. Say it out loud: "The curse will be reversed". Can't wait 'til they reverse the curse. Can you? When on the new earth the curse is reversed, the sense of labor and toil that accompanies our care of the ground and our pursuit of food will be returned to the way it was in the garden before the Fall. The ground will no longer produce thorns and thistles, and we ourselves will not be returned to the ground in death because we will never die. Because of man's fall into sin, a curse was pronounced over this Creation and God sent his Son into the world to redeem that Creation from the results of sin.
And the work of Christ is not just to save the innumerable throng of blood-bought people. The total work of Christ is nothing less than to redeem this entire Creation from the effects of sin. That purpose will not be accomplished until God has ushered in the new earth, until paradise lost becomes paradise regained. Finally, the third thing. Not only the removal of the sea and the reversal of the curse, but number 3, letter C, "The Restoration of All Things". Ephesians 1:10 puts it this way: "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times," at the end of time, God, "might gather together in one all things in Christ," now watch this, "both which are in heaven and which are in earth: in him". God's plan of the ages is to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Today, there is a great separation between heaven and earth, but when Paul uses the term "all things," he's being very inclusive. Nothing will be left out. Christ will make heaven into earth and earth into heaven, and the wall that separates heaven and earth will be forever demolished. There will be one universe and all things in heaven and on earth will be together under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. And God's plan is that there will be no more gulf between the spiritual and the physical worlds. There will be one cosmos, one universe, united under one Lord forever and ever. This is the unstoppable plan of God. This is where history is headed. This is where we're all going, to a new heaven and a new earth. I don't know what that means to you. It changes your whole paradigm of the future.
You say, "I thought we were gonna be in the New Jerusalem"? Absolutely, you remember what I told you? The New Jerusalem was not heaven, it was the capital city of heaven. The New Jerusalem during the eternal age will descend and it will rest upon the earth. Let me ask you a question. If you get all the way to the end of the Bible and all of the judgments are gone, all the Tribulation is gone, all the Millennium is gone, and then God says, "I'm gonna make the earth all over again," what purpose would there be for the earth if we weren't gonna live here?
You say, "Well, I thought I was going up and I'm all disappointed now, I'm gonna have to live on this earth". Well, you won't be disappointed if you just stop for a moment and think. The lesson is what most moderns would call a paradigm shift. How does this change our thinking? Let me just give you two thoughts. Number one, gives you a new appreciation for the world in which we now live. Do you know as Christians, we have a reputation of being very poor ecologists? We have a reputation of always bad-mouthing the tree-huggers and all that sort of thing, you know? And you know, I don't know that that's necessarily true.
I don't believe that's true. But I understand why it could be true because, you see, if a Christian believes that this world is just a temporary thing that's not ever gonna have any purpose in the future and our home is up there, and this earth is no good and it's trashy and it's gonna be totally destroyed, why would you spend any time trying to take care of it? Even though that's one of our commands in the early part of the book of Genesis to care for the earth. Well, you see, when you understand that this earth is not gonna be destroyed but refreshed, when you understand that this earth in some measure that we may not fully understand, is gonna be a part of your future destiny, your future home forever and ever, you will look at this world in a whole different way.
And I'll tell you the truth, since I have been studying this, this is true. When you sit on your porch at night and you look out over the valley and the lights are all on and how beautiful, Lord, this is. I can't imagine what it will be like when you take all the negative stuff out of it and it is pure and perfect. It will be just the same only in a whole different category, with none of the ravages of sin. It'll be all gone and it will be fresh and new and there will be no more death and no more dying and no more pain and no more sorrow. And you tell me it's not heaven.
I've actually wondered sometimes in my own heart as I looked at the beautiful places Donna and I have had a chance to visit, how is God ever gonna top this? How's he ever gonna top this? Now I realize he's gonna take this and elevate it to a whole new level and it will be our eternal abode. We will have access to the heavens and to the earth made new by Almighty God. Isn't that a wonderful thought? I'm going up and I'm going around and I'm gonna be here, I'm gonna be on this earth with Almighty God.
Sometimes when John says not to love the world, we misunderstand. He's not talking about the created world, he's talking about the world system. He's saying, "Don't love the system of the world". But don't stop loving the world. This is my Father's world. It's a beautiful world he's created. And we almost discredit God by our attitude toward this world sometimes. God created this, "In the beginning". And yes, we've messed it up for him but one day, praise the Lord, he's gonna come back and in one moment of time, he's gonna just totally fix everything that's been messed up, and the world that he created when he said, "Let there be light," will again be the pristine world of our Creator God. And we shall live and reign with him forever and ever. A new appreciation for the world in which we live and then secondly and lastly, a new appreciation for the world to which we're going.
A little girl was visiting the country and she was struck by the brilliance of the night skies. She said to her mom, "Mom," listen to this. "If heaven is so pretty on the wrong side, what in the world is it gonna look like on the right side"? That's my sentiment exactly. The right side of heaven is certainly splendid beyond comparison. It is a place characterized by laughter without tears, and life without death, and singing without mourning, and contentment without crying, and pleasure without pain. And our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be there, and our loving heavenly Father will be there, and the blessed Holy Spirit will be there. And there will be a new heaven and a new earth crowned by a resplendent city called the New Jerusalem.
And, my friend, I'm going there. I'm going there. And I don't have all the answers. I can't figure it all out, but the same God who magnificently created this world is going to refresh this world and, one day, we are going to rule and reign with him in this perfect place called heaven and the only way I can tell you that that can be yours is by giving you the same formula that God gave me. Here it is. He said through his Son Jesus, "I am the way". Not, "I am not one of the ways". "I am the way, the truth, and the life".
Now, listen to this. This is very exclusive. This is really not politically correct. This is just biblically correct. Here's what he said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me". You wanna live on this earth refreshed and made beautiful by the Lord, in a place we call heaven in the New Jerusalem, you better make sure you have made your peace with God through Jesus Christ. And you ask him to be your Savior and Lord and he will do it. And he will do it right now, right here, right where you are.