The Renewal

BEHOLD I MAKE ALL THINGS NEWThen 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. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)

The Renewal – The end of Revelation is often described in terms of
the beginning, a renewing of paradise that recalls the goodness of the first creation recorded in Genesis before it was marred by sin (Genesis 1).(1) The two books stand as fitting bookends to God’s complete written revelation to mankind.

The book of Genesis begins with the original creation. The book of Revelation ends with the New Creation. The Paradise lost by the first Adam at the beginning of Genesis, will be restored by the second Adam at the end of Revelation. In Genesis, there is the first day of rest. Revelation closes with the eternal rest in the new creation. Genesis records the first Adam, head of the old humanity. Revelation records the second Adam, head of the new humanity. Genesis gives us Eve, the wife of the first Adam, sinning, condemned and sorrowing. Revelation leaves us with the second Eve, the Bride of Christ, cleansed of sin, justified and rejoicing. In Genesis man is denied any access to the tree of life. Revelation provides not only full access to it, but authority over it. In Genesis, the earth is cursed. In Revelation, the earth is fully delivered from the curse. In Genesis, Satan tempts mankind leading to their fall. In Revelation, mankind is restored, and Satan is cast into the lake of fire forever. In Genesis, there is the beginning of sorrow and tears. In Revelation, our sorrows and tears are forever wiped from our eyes.(2)

Many Bible scholars believe that he “new” heavens and the “new” earth chronologically follows the thousand-year reign of Christ that is described in Revelation 20.(3) Isaiah records God as saying, “I will create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17), as did other Jewish literature (e.g. 1 Enoch, Jubilees). Some of these texts spoke of the renewal of the first creation, while others spoke of its replacement by a new creation.(4) The Greek word for new means new in character, suggesting that God might merely renovate the old heavens and earth by removing all that is sinful and destructive. After all, God did not wipe out mankind and start over, He renewed us through the blood of His Son.

In 2 Peter 3:7–10, we are told that “the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.(5) Those holding to the view that there will be totally new heavens and a new earth, and not the renovation of the present heavens and earth support their position by the statement in the text, “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.(6)

Another viewpoint contends that Revelation 21 retells the return of Christ and the Millennium recorded in Revelation 20 from the viewpoint of the bride, like Revelation 17 was a recapitulation of the seventh cup and the fall of Babylon (compare the language of Revelation 17:1–3, which clearly introduces a retelling with the language of Revelation 18:9–10). If this is the case, then chapter 21 is a recapitulation of the glorification of the bride of the Lamb, with the focus upon the bride.(7)

Those who do not agree with this interpretation argue that the absence of any specific geographic identification and the absence of a sea, suggest that this new earth will be entirely different than the one described in the Millennium. For example, the sea is mentioned many times in relation to the Millennium (e.g., Psalm 72:8; Isaiah 11:9, 11; Ezekiel 47:8–20; 48:28; Zechariah 9:10; 14:8). These are taken as conclusive evidence that the new heavens and new earth are not describing the Millennium.(8) 

Up Next – The new heaven.

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References

  1. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 21:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. Brooks, K. (2009). Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the New Testament (p. 96). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  3. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 983). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 21:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 855). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 983). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Sloan, R. B. (1998). The Revelation. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (pp. 679–680). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  8. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 984). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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