Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth.
New Heavens and Earth
Global, Covenantal, or Personal?
Josephus First, Book III, chap.6, section 4:
“Now the room within those pillars was the most holy place; but the rest of the room was the tabernacle, which was open for the priests. However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world; for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a heaven peculiar to God.” Of the veil at the holy of holies, he said, “This veil was very ornamental, and embroidered with all sorts of flowers which the earth produces; and there were interwoven into it all sorts of variety that might be an ornament, excepting the forms of animals”
Josephus War 5.1.4 19-20
The darts that were thrown by the engines [of the seditious factions] came with that force, that they went over all the buildings and the Temple itself, and fell upon the priests and those that were about the sacred offices; insomuch that many persons who came thither with great zeal from the ends of the earth to offer sacrifices at this celebrated place, which was esteemed holy by all mankind, fell down before their own sacrifices themselves, and sprinkled that altar which was venerable among all men, both Greeks and barbarians, with their own blood. The dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcasses stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves. Oh most wretched city, what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy internal pollutions! For thou couldst be no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou longer survive, after thou hadst been a sepulchre for the bodies of thine own people, and hast made the Holy House itself a burying-place in this civil war of thine. Yet mayst thou again grow better, if perchance thou wilt hereafter appease the anger of that God who is the author of thy destruction. But I must restrain myself from these passions by the rules of History, since this is not a proper time for domestic lamentation, but for historical narrations.
“For Behold — from the great goodness that there will be, as if the world will be renewed, a new heavens and a new earth”
“Thus describing the state of Exile and its various particularities and thereupon the restoration of the kingdom and the disappearance of all those sorrows, he says, speaking in parables: I shall create another heaven and another earth and those that are now will be forgotten and their traces effaced. Then he explains this in continuity, saying: When I have said “I shall create,” I meant thereby that I shall produce for you, instead of those sorrows and hardships, a state of constant joy and gladness so that the former sorrows will not be remembered.” (Guide for the Perplexed II.29)
“For if the heavens are to be changed, assuredly that which is changed does not perish, and if the fashion of the world passes away, it is by no means an annihilation or destruction of their material substance that is shown to take place, but a kind of change of quality and transformation of appearance. Isaiah also, in declaring prophetically that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, undoubtedly suggests a similar view. “(Principles, 2:6:4)
“As if the apostle had said, “The voice of God, at the promulging of the law on mount Sinai, shook the earth; but he promised after this to shake all nations, and that Christ, the expected Messias, the desire of all nations, should come, which is now fulfilled.”
Question. But what means our apostle by God’s shaking not the earth only, but also heaven?
Answer. He means thereby all the Mosaical worship, all the Judaical state, those were shaken at the coming of Christ, in order to the introduction of the immoveable gospel-state, which was perpetually to remain. Learn hence, That the coming of the Messias was to be the last dispensation of God for the salvation of mankind, and consequently was to be perpetual and unchangeable. The apostle argues from the words, once more, that the former dispensation should be removed to make way for that which should perpetually remain. Several things are here asserted by our apostle,
1. That there were some things which were intended by God to be shaken, namely, the Levitical priesthood, and all the Jewish sacrifices and services; these things were to be shaken, moved, yea, altogether removed out of the way.
2. That there were things that could not be shaken or removed, but remain; these were the gospel-state, the Christian religion, which shall continue until time shall be no more.
3. That the former things were removed, that the latter might be introduced and established; the law and the gospel were inconsistent; the legal and evangelical administration could not stand in force together, therefore there was a necessity for the nulling of the one, in order to the establishing of the other.
4. That the removal of the law, to bring the more perfect administration of the gospel, doth prove the stability and immutability of the gospel, that it stands fast forever; there shall be no more shaking, no farther alteration in matters of religion to the end of the world. For thus it follows.” (Many Thanks to Bill Kuegler ; Commentary on Hebrews 12:26)
Jonathan Edwards (1739)
“Thus there was a final end to the Old Testament world: all was finished with a kind of day of judgment, in which the people of God were saved, and His enemies terribly destroyed.” (History of Redemption, vol. i. p. 445)
“We read, That “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and the church of old were to commemorate that work. But when God creates a new heaven and a new earth, those that belong to this new heaven and new earth, by a like reason, are the commemorate the creation of their heaven and earth. (“The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol 2).
“The Scriptures further teach us to call the gospel-restoration and redemption, a creation of a new heaven and a new earth…. (“The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol 2).
“The gospel-state is every where spoken of as a renewed state of things, wherein old things are passed away, and all things become new.” (“The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol 2).
“And the dissolution of the Jewish state was often spoken of in the Old Testament as the end of the world. But we who belong to the gospel-church, belong to the new creation; and therefore there seems to be at least as much reason, that we should commemorate the work of this creation, as that the members of the ancient Jewish church should commemorate the work of the old creation.” (“The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol 2).
John Locke (1705)
“That St. Paul should use ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ for Jews and Gentiles will not be thought so very strange if we consider that Daniel himself expresses the nation of the Jews by the name of ‘heaven’ (Dan. viii. 10). Nor does he want an example of it in our Saviour Himself, who (Luke xxi. 26) by “powers of heaven” plainly signifies the great men of the Jewish nation. Nor is this the only place in the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians which will bear this interpretation of heaven and earth. He who shall read the first fifteen verses of chap. iii. and carefully weigh the expressions, and observe the drift of the apostle in them, will not find that he does manifest violence to St. Paul’s sense if he understand by “The family in heaven and earth” (ver. 15) the united body of Christians, made up of Jews and Gentiles, living still promiscuously among those twp sorts of people who continueds in their unbelief. However, this interpretation I am not positive in , but offer it as matter of inquiry to those who think and impartial search into the true meaning of the Sacred Scriptures the best employment of all the time they have.” (Ephesians 2:9-10, in loc.)
Sir Isaac Newton
“The figurative language of the prophets is taken from the analogy between the world natural and an empire or kingdom considered as a world politic. Accordingly, the world natural, consisting of heaven and earth, signifies the whole world politic, consisting of thrones and people, or so much of it as is considered in prophecy; and the things in that world signify the analogous things in this. For the heavens and the things therein signify thrones and dignities, and those who enjoy them: and the earth, with the things thereon, the inferior people; and the lowest parts of the earth, called Hades or Hell, the lowest or most miserable part of them. Great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, are put for the shaking of kingdoms, so as to distract and overthrow them; the creating of a new heaven and earth, and the passing of an old one; or the beginning and end of a world, for the rise and ruin of a body politic signified thereby. The sun, for the whole species and race of kings, in the kingdoms of the world politic; the moon, for the body of common people considered as the king’s wife; the starts, for subordinate princes and great men; or for bishops and rulers of the people of God, when the sun is Christ. Setting of the sun, moon, and stars; darkening the sun, turning the moon into blood, and falling of the stars, for the ceasing of a kingdom.” (Observations on the Prophecies, Part i. chap. ii)
John Brown (1853)
“‘Heaven and earth passing,’ understood literally, is the dissolution of the present system of the universe, and the period when that is to take place, is called the ‘end of the world.’ But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens” (vol. 1, p. 170)
“It appears, then, that is Scripture be the best interpreter of Scripture, we have in the Old Testament a key to the interpretation of the prophecies in the New. The same symbolism is found in both, and the imagery of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets helps us to understand the imagery of St. Matthew, St. Peter, and St. John. As the dissolution of the material world is not necessary to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, neither is it necessary to the accomplishment of the predictions of the New Testament. But though symbols are metaphorical expressions, they are not unmeaning. It is not necessary to allegorise them, and find a corresponding equivalent for every trope; it is sufficient to regard the imagery as employed to heighten the sublimity of the prediction and to clothe it with impressiveness and grandeur. There are, at the same time, a true propriety and an underlying reality in the symbols of prophecy. The moral and spiritual facts which they represent, the social and ecumenical changes which they typify, could not be adequately set forth by language less majestic and sublime. There is reason for believing that an inadequate apprehension of the real grandeur and significance of such events as the destruction of Jerusalem and the abrogation of the Jewish economy lies at the root of that system of interpretation which maintains that nothing answering to the symbols of the New Testament prophecy has ever taken place. Hence the uncritical and unscriptural figments of double senses, and double, triple, and multiple fulfillments of prophecy. That physical disturbances in nature and extraordinary phenomena in the heavens and in the earth may have accompanied the expiring throes of the Jewish dispensation we are not prepared to deny. It seems to us highly probable that such things were. But the literal fulfillment of the symbols is not essential to the verification of prophecy, which is abundantly proved to be true by the recorded facts of history.” (vol. i. p.200).
David Chilton (1987)
“Moreover, the phrase heaven and earth in these contexts does not, as Owen pointed out, refer to the physical heaven and the physical world, but to the world-order, the religious organizations of the world, the “House” or Temple God builds in which He is worshipped.” (Days of Vengeance., p. 544)
Gary DeMar (1996)
“Jesus does not change subjects when He assures the disciples that “heaven and earth will pass away.” Rather, He merely affirms His prior predictions, which are recorded in Matthew 24:2931. Verse 36 is a summary and confirmation statement of these verses.(6) Keep in mind that the central focus of the Olivet Discourse is the desolation of the “house” and “world” of apostate Israel (23:36). The old world of Judaism, represented by the earthly temple, is taken apart stone by stone (24:2). James Jordan writes, “each time God brought judgment on His people during the Old Covenant, there was a sense in which an old heavens and earth was replaced with a new one: New rulers were set up, a new symbolic world model was built (Tabernacle, Temple), and so forth.”(7) The New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant with new leaders, a new priesthood, new sacraments, a new sacrifice, a new tabernacle (John 1:14), and a new temple (John 2:19; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21). In essence, a new heaven and earth.
The darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars, coupled with the shaking of the heavens (24:29), are more descriptive ways of saying that “heaven and earth will pass away” (24:35). In other contexts, when stars fall, they fall to the earth, a sure sign of temporal judgment (Isaiah 14:12; Daniel 8:10; Revelation 6:13; 9:1; 12:4). So then, the “passing away of heaven and earth” is the passing away of the old covenant world of Judaism led and upheld by those who “crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). “
“John Owen, the Puritan scholar, knows his Bible better than most of the rest of us, and he tells us exactly where the Old Testament foretells a ‘new heaven and earth.”
“Owen is right on target, asking the question that so many expositors fail to ask: Where had God promised to bring “new heavens and a new earth” The answer, as Owen correctly states, is only in Isaiah 65 and 66 – passages which clearly prophesy the period of the Gospel, brought in by the work of Christ.” (ibid., p. 495)
“Because of what may be called the ‘collapsing universe’ terminology used in this passage, many have assumed that St. Peter is speaking of the final end of the physical heaven and earth, rather than the dissolution of the Old Covenant world order.” (Last Days Madness, p. 540)
J. Marcellus Kik (1971)
“But what about the new heaven and the new earth? Will there not be a renovated material heaven and earth? When the Scriptures speak of a new heaven and new earth it is not a material concept, but a spiritual concept.”
“Just a little reflection will show that to take Revelation 21 and 22 in a literal way is to make utter foolishness of that which John revealed. In that figurative passage you cannot say that the “new heaven and new earth” is a material concept while the rest is to be taken in a figurative way. The “new heaven and new earth” is but the same as “the holy city” and “the Lamb’s bride.” (An Eschatology Of Victory, p. 254-256)
“All authorities concur in the declaration that “when all these things should have been done” “The End” should come : that “the mystery of God should be finished as he had declared to His servants the prophets” : it should be completed : time should now be no more : the End of all things (so foretold) should be at hand, and be fully brought to pass : in these days should be fulfilled all that had been spoken of Christ (and of His church) by the prophets : or, in other words, when the gospel should have been preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations, and the power of the Holy People be scattered (abroad), then should the End come, then should all these things be finished. I need now only say, all these things have been done : the old and elementary system passed away with a great noise; all these predicted empires have actually fallen, and the new kingdom, the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem–all of which were to descend from God, to be formed by His power, have been realised on earth ; all these things have been done in the sight of all the nations ; God’s holy arm has been made bare in their sight: His judgments have prevailed, and they remain for an everlasting testimony to the whole world. His kingdom has come, as it was foretold it should, and His will has, so far, been done; His purposes have been finished; and, from that day to the extreme end of time, it will be the duty, as indeed it will be the great privilege of the Church, to gather into its bosom the Jew, the Greek, the Scythian, the Barbarian, bond and free; and to do this as the Apostles did in their days–in obedience, faith and hope.’ “
John Lightfoot (1859)
“That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world, Deut. 32:22; “A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.’ Jer. 4:23; ‘I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light,’ &c. The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that nation, Isa. 65:17; ‘Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered,’ &c. And more passages of this sort among the prophets. According to this sense, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Cor. 5:17, &c. (vol. 2, pp. 18-19)
“With the same reference it is, that the times and state of things immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem are called ‘a new creation,’ new heavens,’ and ‘a new earth.’ When should that be? Read the whole chapter; and you will find the Jews rejected and cut off; and from that time is that new creation of the evangelical world among the Gentiles.
2 Peter 3:13: ‘We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.’ The heaven and the earth of the Jewish church and commonwealth must be all on fire, and the Mosaic elements burnt up; but we, according to the promise made to us by Isaiah the prophet, when all these are consumed, look for the new creation of the evangelical state” (vol. 3, p.453)
“That the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of the world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city, places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as much or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues. Matt. 24:29,30, ‘The sun shall be darkened &c. Then shall appear the ‘sign of the Son of man,’ &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2 Pet. 3:10, ‘The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’ &c. Compare with this Deut. 32:22, Heb. 12:26: and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal 4:9, Coloss. 2:20: and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses” (vol. 3, p. 452).
John Owen (1721)
‘It is evident, then, that in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by heavens and earth, the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, were often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which then was destroyed by the flood.
‘ 4. On this foundation I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state
‘First, There is the foundation of the apostle’s inference and exhortation, seeing that all these things, however precious they seem, or what value soever any put upon them, shall be dissolved, that is, destroyed; and that in that dreadful and fearful manner before mentioned, in a day of judgment, wrath, and vengeance, by fire and sword; let others mock at the threats of Christ’s coming: He will come- He will not tarry; and then the heavens and earth that God Himself planted, -the sun, moon, and stars of the Judaical polity and church, -the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinancy against the Lord Christ, shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed: this we know shall be the end of these things, and that shortly.” (Sermon on 2 Peter iii. 11, Works, folio, 1721.).
“Several Biblical references show that the phrase ‘heaven and earth’ is a figurative expression to denote the Jewish economy, its religious society and government.”
Luke 16:17 declares that it ‘is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fall.’ Again, the Jewish society is meant. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:18), Jesus declared, ‘Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass away till all things be accomplished.’ All things needed to be fulfilled which had been written in the Psalms, Moses, and in the scrolls of the other prophets (Luke 24:44; see also John 17:4). The last of these temporal events would be the dissolution of the Jewish economy.” (p. 152)
Moses Stuart (1836)
(On Heb. 12:25-29) “That the passage has respect to the changes which would be introduced by the coming of the Messiah, and the new dispensation which he would commence, is evident from Haggai ii. 7-9. Such figurative language is frequent in the Scriptures, and denotes great changes which are to take place. So the apostle explains it here, in the very next verse. (Comp. Isa. 13:13; Haggai 2:21,22; Joel 3:16; Matt. 24:29-37). (Hebrews, in loc.)
Milton Terry (1898)
“That these texts may intimate or simply foreshadow some such ultimate reconstruction of the physical creation, need not be denied, for we know not the possibilities of the future, nor the purposes of God respecting all things which he has created. but the contexts of these several passages do not authorize such a doctrine. Isaiah 51:16, refers to the resuscitation of Zion and Jerusalem, and is clearly metaphorical. The same is true of Isa. 65:17, and 66:22, for the context in all these places confines the reference to Jerusalem and the people of God, and sets forth the same great prophetic conception of the Messianic future as the closing chapters of Ezekiel. The language of 2 Pet. iii, 10, 12, is taken mainly from Isa. 34:4, and is limited to the parousia, like the language of Matt. 24:29. Then the Lord made ‘not only the land but also the heaven’ to tremble (Heb 12:26), and removed the things that were shaken in order to establish a kingdom which cannot be moved (Heb. 12:27,28).” (Biblical Hermeneutics, p. 489).
Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis (1997)
“In this essay it is argued that the principal reference of ‘heaven and earth’ is the temple-centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm. Mark 13 and Matthew 5:18 refer, then, to the destruction of the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology and also, in the latter case, to the establishment during Jesus’ ministry and at His death and resurrection of a new temple cosmology — a new heaven and earth.” (Eschatology in Bible & Theology InterVarsity Press, 1997, p. 145)
C.H. Spurgeon (1865)
“Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, of any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under a new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it.” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. xxxvii, p. 354).
Holman Bible Dictionary
“Jesus as Doer of God’s Mighty Works This One who was raised, the same One who died, had performed the miracles of God’s kingdom in our time and space. John testified that in the doing of God’s mighty works Jesus was the prophet sent from God (John 6:14). He healed all kinds of persons, a sign of God’s ultimate healing. He raised some from the dead, a sign that He would bring God’s resurrection life to all who would receive it. He cast out evil spirits as a preview of God’s final shutting away of the evil one (Rev. 20). He was Lord over nature, indicating that by His power God was already beginning to create a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1). The spectacular impact of His mighty works reinforced and called to mind the power of His teachings. (J. Ramsey Michaels in the Holman Bible Dictionary.)
Another example of “heaven and earth” being referred to the Covenant World of Israel, and not literal creation, is Isaiah 51:16, “And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
Notice that God is speaking to Israel. He says he gave them his law, the Old Covenant, the same law Jesus is speaking about in Matthew 5:17-18, to establish heaven and lay the foundation of the earth!
Clearly God is not saying he gave the Old Covenant to Israel to create literal heaven and earth! Material creation existed long before Israel was ever given the Old Covenant.
Isaiah 51:16 And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’
Who is God speaking to in Isaiah 1:1-2, “…Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth.” The physical creation?
No, he is speaking to Israel. And who is the witness in Deuteronomy 4:26, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day”? Physical creation or Old Covenant Israel?
Date: 01 Nov 2003
Yeah, I think God does not lie. he had spirit beings in heaven already. Now his purpose is being fulfilled with fleshly sons on earth. The devil threw a wrench in his works, god’s purpose will ultimatly happen. Psalms 115:16 Psalms 37:29. Ecclesiastes 1:4 I am telling you the truth. Galatians 4:16 Albert
- Date: 15 Mar 2004
- Time: 06:06:03
New heavens and the new earth……is a refining that takes place in the kindgom of God. The kingdom of God is in us. We are the spiritual temple of God. Heaven is in us, where we store our treasures and represents where we have a spirtual relationship with God. Earth is representive of the carnal man, the adamic flesh…..God makes all things new!
- Date: 28 Oct 2004
- Time: 16:11:26
I really appreciate this page and reference it regularly. Thanks for the great site and work! John McPherson
Date: 25 Apr 2007
I believe that the bible is to be taken literally when possible. Remember God can do things impossible.
There are things in the bible which seem to have no reason to be there, and I think we should check them out with reasonong.In Genesis chapter one verse 9. God for some reason had it stated about the deviding of the waters from the waters. He also shows that the waters were devided above and below, not side by side. They were devided by the firmament while they were still without form and void. Therefore I conclude that they were bothe of the same substances. Nothing else is said about the waters above the firmament directly, however there are many instances in the bible which shows a crossing over to the other side. Why? The red sea, the flooded Jordan river, Eligah had to cross in a maricoulous fashion to go be with God. There was a great gulf afixed between the rich man and lazerath. This is just to name a few. In each of these instances it was impossible for man But not for God. We shall be taken up as christians.
Date: 25 Apr 2007
Thank you for this site. Bob Chrisco
Date: 18 Jan 2011
I am very appreciative of the information in the above article. I am fully convinced that the New Heavens and New Earth along with the New Jerusalem were fulfilled in our Lord’s death and resurrection and with the day of Pentecost. What wonderful truth and what great joy.
Date: 25 Aug 2011
I believe the heavens and the earth is a people whose minds renewed and will received a new body