As we discovered in part #1 of this series, heaven is a reality right now! In the first place heaven is the place of God’s dwelling. In heaven right now, we have Jesus our Savior as our Mediator and High Priest, who intercedes on our behalf. In heaven the spirits of the just., those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, are being perfected, as they worship and serve our God with His holy angels (Hebrews 12:18-24). Yet as real as heaven is, well in God’s presence, heaven is a reality in the spirit, soul and body of every saint, as Christ the King of heaven is preset within us, as well as us being present in Him in heaven right now (Ephesians 2:4-7). Heaven is a for real!
*(If you have not read part #1 of this series you may want to do so now. Please click the link to do so https://4rs4thechurch.com/2018/04/04/10512/)
Along with the above truth, we understand that scripture declares that the time of Christ’s return is upon us and that after He fulfills God’s plan, God will usher in a new age, where in heaven is the present reality for all men, that trusted in Christ.
As stated briefly in the last post, Christ will return for His church, in what most refer to as the rapture–then God’s wrath will be poured out on the ungodly for a period of time–Christ will then return to put down all rebellion–we will then reign with Christ for 1000 years–Satan will be loosed for a time leading to the last rebellion of Gog and Magog–at the conclusion of Gog and Magog Satan is judged–then the final judgement at the Great White Throne–then we arrive at Revelation 21:1. I realize that the proceeding eschatological outline of events may not line up perfectly with every reader’s view of the end-times.
Please keep in mind, it is a general view, that in some way, hits the major events of Christ’s return, from a majority perceptive. That said, let us look into the major implications of Revelation 21:1, in relation to what heaven will be like from a Biblical perspective.
(Revelation 21:1) Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was not more sea.
What does it mean “I saw a new heaven and a new earth”? This has been taken to mean an out of nothing “ex nilo” creation of a new starry heavens and new planet earth, but are accurately, from Greek language, the word “new” means to be completely renovated. This does not mean heaven is God’s “This Old House” show, but we must understand that what God creates, He does not annihilate.
If you will allow me to wax scientific for a little, we can understand that the amount of matter, or the stuff of creation, remains constant in the created universe. In simpler terms this means from the creation (or as the atheist scientist wrongly states the “big bang”), no new matter has been created and no matter has been destroyed. This has led some scientist to suggest that matter is “eternal”. Yet even though the amount of matter will always remain the same, matter does break down and change forms. We need only consider water, in its three forms, to understand that varying conditions cause the break downs and changes (these facts are revealed in the 2nd law of thermodynamics). What God creates He does not annihilate!
Consider for a moment the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment, which is explicitly laid out in Scripture. Recently the Roman Catholic Pope, was caught privately declaring that hell does not exist, revealing he believes those who are unrepentant simply cease to exist. Even though the Roman Catholic Church has denied he spoke these heretical words, it brings us a good point of revelation. That point… even the unrepentant are resurrection and live forever. Their lives are not annihilated but painfully indestructible. Consider just a few passages such as, Matthew 25:41, John 5:26-29, Revelation 14:11 and Revelation 20:11-15
Let us remember what God creates He does not destroy, whether it is a person who is unregenerate or some physical and see aspect of creation, although they all will be changed. This is the what is referred to when understanding the “new heavens and the new earth, for the first earth has passed away. Interestingly the word for passed away is the same Greek word is II Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, the creation: old things have passed away; behold all things become new”. In order to fully grasp the imagery of being a “new creation” with our old life before Christ having “passed away”, we need to walk back a chapter.
(2 Corinthians 4:16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
When referring to the word “perishing” we understand this to mean, similar to a person expiring with a terminal disease. In relation to our sanctification, as we submit to the Holy Spirit, we are renewed in our new creation life, while the “old man” dies a little more, like a person with a terminal disease. We are literally little models of what God will do in the “new heavens and the new earth”. We the crown of God’s creation are the seed in this old heavens and earth. Redemption in Christ, through His blood, was not only to remove the penalty of sin upon our account, but to begin the process of our being made holy practically in this life. God has begun the process, in us, and creation itself is eagerly waiting the full end our salvation when we are with Christ forever.
(Romans 8:19-23) For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
We then are a microcosm of what God is doing even now in creation, as it groans. We, even the redeemed, groan, struggle, pain, as the old man passes away in his influence, as the new man we are in Christ takes His place of sovereignty. The same sin, from Adam, which affected all humanity also infected all creation. This creation will not be annihilated but renovated in powerful Divine movement (Hebrews 1:11-12; Psalm 102:25-28).
(Hebrews 1:11-12) “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”
Peter also describes how the curse will be removed from what God has originally created in II Peter.
(2 Peter 3:10-12) 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. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
What will this new heaven and more specifically this new earth look like? Although resembling the starry heavens and earth of this original creation, the new will look, well, outstanding, perfect, magnificent, with colors and sites never able to be seen, through eyes untainted with sin. We think we see breathtaking wonders in our time, yet this creation will seem like a cheap Lego set of the Grand Canyon, in comparison God’s new heaven and new earth.
One thing that will be different, as it is specifically noted in Revelation 21:1, is “There will be no more sea”. There is some speculation as to what this means, as some want to minimize this to mean no “Great Sea” or Mediterranean Sea. This is not supported in the scripture, therefore “the will be no more sea means, there will be no seas or oceans dividing the land masses, or continents, as we know them today. This is a literal geographic reality in our eternal home with God, but also carries with it a profound spiritual and governmental meaning.
In the O.T. the phrase “the sea” is often used to refer to the nations of the world, at war with God. We understand the nations in conflict with God, had their beginning in the rebellion at Babel; and their subsequent scattering following the confusion of the languages (Genesis 11:1-9). We find Psalm 2, describing their conflict with God and His solution in Messiah to come.
(Psalms 2) Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
Although in Psalm 2 we see the pride of nations in war against God, in the new heaven and the new earth, this conflict is gone and forgotten forever. Consider Isaiah’s report.
(Isaiah 17:12-13) Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; but God will rebuke them and they will flee far away and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
Yet when we dwell in the new heavens and the new earth, Psalm 72:6-11, declares that although geographic regions will exist, they will have no more national sovereignty, for Christ has redeemed the nations from their rebellion.
(Psalms 72:6-11) He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, like showers that water the earth. In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, and His enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.
In the 1000-year reign, Christ rules them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:7-9). This takes place in Revelation 19. In the new heaven and new earth, the need for the rod of iron, is no longer necessary. In the new heavens and the new earth, we have new and overwhelming physical sights, sounds and experiences, never encountered. We will experience the perfect sovereignty of God, through Jesus Christ. In our next post, we look further into the realities of the New heavens and the new earth.