A New Earth

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 New Earth – The original condition of the earth was affected by the curse of Adam and Eve’s sinful fall (Genesis 3:17–19). Today, the curse continues as even the scientific community generally agrees that the ecology of the earth is suffering due to the poor stewardship of man. The earth still lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19), a daily reminder that many of the earth’s inhabitants are living outside of fellowship with God (Ephesians 2:1, 2).

Various Bible passages (Ezra 47; Joel 3:18, 19; Amos 9:13–15; Zechariah 14:6–9) point to the coming age when the earth will be set free from its bondage to decay, a deliverance for which the whole creation is said to be “groaning” in anticipation (Romans 8:19–23). At that time, “the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Afterwards, when “the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea,” John looked up and saw “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).(1) It will be so wonderful that the “former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).(2)

Very little information has been provided about this new earth. There is, however, one curious fact. There will no longer be any sea. No other descriptions are given concerning the new earth, and nothing is known of its characteristics, its vegetation, color, or form. What few other references that are found in the Scripture (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; and 2 Peter 3:10–13) reveal no other details.(3) Perhaps it is sufficient to look back at the description of the earth in its original state in Genesis before for fall?

The reference to no more sea could also be a symbolic reference to the removal of evil and chaos (compare Genesis 1:2). It may also be meant to unify the earth’s inhabitants that were separated after the flood and the tower of Babel.(4) A literal view would correspond with ancient Jewish interpretations of Isaiah 65:17, which mentions heaven and earth but does not mention the sea. The symbolic view is seen by some as a reference to the evil powers earlier in Revelation 13:1.(5) If no more sea is taken literally, it does not necessarily mean no more water. It could simply indicate that the new earth will have a different arrangement as far as water is concerned. While today three fourths of our globe consist of water, this may not be the case in the eternal state. In John’s day, the sea meant danger, storms, and separation (John himself was on an island at the time separated from his flock). Thus, if taken symbolically John was giving us more than a geography lesson on the new earth.(6)

Up Next – The New Jerusalem.

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References

  1. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 647). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  2. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 1547). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  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. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 21:1). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  5. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 21:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 622). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Where Has the Time Gone?

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Psalms 39:4-7“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.  You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.  Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – An old year is fully spent and a new year has barely begun.  Traditionally, a time of reflection on what has transpired in the past and what the future might hold.  I do not recall when I began to think of time as fleeting.  When I was younger, I rarely had such thoughts.  But now I am at that age, where my own father has passed and my youngest son is beginning to have his own thoughts on “where time goes.”  Maybe I began having those thoughts when my oldest son died before reaching his tenth birthday, and I had my first real taste of how fragile life on this earth really is.  And, as the Apostle Paul said, “if only for this life we have hope…we are to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:9, NIV 1978).”

But our hope is not only for this life.  It is for forever.  For elsewhere Paul wrote, “brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NIV 1984).”  And what an encouragement it is.

My Advice – Do not “grieve like the rest of men” who see their lives as slipping away, with no hope beyond the grave. Because our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ who conquered the grave for us.  Rather grieve for those who do not have such hope, and pray that they may find that hope by trusting in Christ before it is too late.

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 Continue reading “The Renewal”