Where are they? When do they appear? Why are they New?
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Have you been taught to believe that the "New Heavens and New Earth" are spirit, physical or spiritual? When do you think they come on the scene? Who do you think they are for? What is it that makes them ‘new’? One of the most discussed, but least understood Bible topics has been ‘the future’ as portrayed in the book of Revelation. Why is that? The last book of the Bible is supposed to ‘reveal’ the future to us, yet it is an enigma to nearly all who try to understand it. Could the reason for the failure to understand so much of the book of Revelation lie hidden under our very noses? Some surprising answers to these and other questions are contained in this investigative look into the origin, purpose and timing of the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Many people who read the Bible have never realized that much of what is written in what is known as the ‘New Testament’ is comprised of direct and indirect quotes from the Hebrew scriptures, commonly referred to as the 'Old Testament'. Enormous quantities of 'New Testament' scripture aren’t ‘new’ at all. We find that in the book of Revelation alone there are 285 references and quotes from the ‘old’ Hebrew scriptures of God! Actually, even the doctrine (teaching) of Jesus the Christ is primarily based on the Hebrew scriptures. When Jesus taught His disciples about who He was and where He came from, He used the Hebrew scriptures to do so. Even the early Christian church relied entirely upon the Hebrew ‘Old Testament’. Only then it wasn’t ‘old’. Today, many people think it is ‘old’ and therefore out dated, but the ‘new’ addition reminds us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16. We might recall that when this ‘scripture’ was written, the ‘only’ scripture available for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness was the “Old Testament” scripture.
With this in mind, let us begin our look into what John meant in Revelation 21:1 when he wrote about seeing a ‘new heaven and a new earth’, by looking into those ‘old’ Hebrew scriptures.
Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
Isaiah 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
Thus we can readily see that the Revelation quote was not ‘new’, but really quite ‘old’. Simply put, if we can discern ‘when’ the Isaiah scriptures say this ‘new heaven and new earth’ will come on the scene, we will also be able to understand the time frame of the account in Revelation as well. After all, it is the same topic, is it not?
To get a better perspective of the time setting, it is necessary to read more than a solitary verse here or there. Let’s look at Isaiah beginning in chapter 65 and verse 13 to see if we can discern the story flow and proper timing of these events.
Isaiah 65:13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: (See vs 11 - ‘ye’ are Israel, but those who forsake the Lord; while the ‘servants’ are those Israelites who obey Him)
14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.
15 And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name: (See Isaiah 62:4 for the ‘another name’)
16 That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. (This is sometime after the Great Tribulation.)
17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (Who will not remember the “former”, nor have it come to his mind? Doesn’t it make sense that this must refer to those who lived in the “former” AND continue to live in the “new”? These same folks who will be rejoicing in verse 18?)
18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. (Notice that human beings still exist.)
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. (This will be in the new heavens and new earth, which is at the return of The Lord and His Christ)
21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. (There are physical houses built in the new heavens and new earth.)
22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. (This shows that there will never again be a captivity of Israel.)
23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. (This is a well known Kingdom age scripture which occurs in the new heavens and new earth. With this environment it should be no wonder why the “former” will not come to mind!)
66:5 Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, (These ‘brethren’ are Israelites who take the mark of the beast and betray fellow Israelites in the Great Tribulation of Israel.) that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.
6 A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.
7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. (This speaks of Israel in captivity, in its Great Tribulation, on the verge of receiving freedom.)
8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? (Yes! As soon as God brings Israel out of captivity, she is no longer dead, but again a nation.) for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. (Verses 10-14 describe the blessings that Israel will receive upon returning from captivity.)
15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. (Compare with 2 Peter 3)
16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. (Armageddon)
17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.
18 For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. (This is an apt description of the preparation for Armageddon.)
19 And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.
20 And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.
21 And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.
22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed (This is about physical offspring, not spirit. Consider the context here and what Jesus said in Matthew 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30) For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.) and your name remain.
23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh (Notice that “your seed” are human beings living in the new heavens and new earth.) come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me (the 200,000,000 man army and others): for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
So, there are both dead bodies littering the landscape and living breathing humans in this thing that is called, ‘the new heavens and the new earth’. But is this the same new heaven and new earth that Revelation 21 refers to? Isaiah was referring to a time in the last days or at the end time, a time when God would be directly intervening in the affairs of men on this earth. If you doubt this then please read Isaiah from start to finish, especially the last several chapters. Sometimes in the Bible, the writers of the ‘new’ scriptures based their teaching on an ‘old’ point, but modified it in some way. Was that done here, or are we looking at a straightforward description of the same time and event? For a more complete look at this subject there is another scripture we need to add to our study. This one is from the ‘new’ scriptures.
2 Peter 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: (Notice that this ‘heavens and earth’ were destroyed by water (the flood of verse 6), but there was still a physical heaven and earth afterward.)
6 Whereby the world (kosmos, a reference to mankind, not the planet) that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: (The Greek word translated as perished means: abolished, put an end to, ruined. This is a reference to death, not the end of the physical planet)
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against (for) the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as (#5613) a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (Notice the use of the Greek word ‘hos’, #5613, which is translated into the word “as”, and not “is” (which would have been the verb ‘esti’). The use of ‘as’ is expressive language that is not to be taken literally. Simply put, God’s perception of time is different from our perception of it. In the English, we call this a figure of speech. Using the word ‘as’, which is done here, to compare two unlike things - is a 'simile'.)
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (Comment: He is not ‘willing’, but nevertheless, many will die as it is their choice.)
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (Not the kind listed in the Periodic Table, but the kind spoken of by Paul (same word) in Galatians 4:3,9) shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (The heavens and earth are burned up in the “day of the Lord”, and not 1,000 years or more later! But, even then, is the “earth” a reference to the entire planet “earth”, or does the Greek and Hebrew have a much more restrictive meaning? See the article, “The Genesis Creation” elsewhere on this site for a truly biblical look into the use and meaning of the words translated into the English terms “earth” and “heaven” in the bible.)
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God (same as the ‘day of the Lord’ in verse 10), wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things (where righteousness dwells), be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
From the above ‘new’ scripture we find that the ‘new heaven and new earth’ described in 2 Peter 3 comes into being during a time that is described by a number of different phrases. The phrases are: “the last days”, “the day of judgment, “the day of the Lord” and “ the day of God. The phrase, ‘The Day of the Lord’ is a well-known Biblical phrase, which refers to the time at the very end of this age, as it concludes, and the new age begins. From many other scriptures we will find that this time frame, ‘The Day of the Lord’, either initiates or concludes many events. Some of them, for example, are the Judgment Day, the re-gathering of the nation of Israel (all twelve tribes), and most of the ‘end-time’ prophecies are fulfilled. All these events are in and around this Day of the Lord spoken of in Peter and many other books of the Bible. Thus, we now see that, ‘the new heavens and the new earth’ are also spoken of in this time frame of the ‘day of the Lord’.
Let’s go back to Revelation and look at chapter 21 once again.
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Where was there no more ‘sea’? Over the entire planet earth, or just locally around Jerusalem? Is this even a “physical” reference to a body of water?)
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (For a fuller explanation of the New Jerusalem see: The New Jerusalem – How ‘New’ Is It?)
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things (unrighteousness?) are passed away. (For a fuller explanation of the ‘wipe away all tears’ and ‘no more’ death’ - see the reference work on the Revelation 7 and the 'Great Multitude')
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new (kainos, thus- refreshed, not neos “new” as in “brand new”). And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst (Are spirit beings ‘thirsty’? Do they ‘need’ to drink this water?) of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Jeremiah 31:9 and Exodus 4:22)
But the fearful, and
unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and
idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and
brimstone: which is the second death.
We hope that the picture is becoming clear on its own. The following scriptures expand upon the premise already established.
Isaiah 30:19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
Isaiah 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Regathered Israel.)
Isaiah 60:20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. (This metaphorically shows that Israel will never again go into captivity.)
1 Corinthians 7:31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. (Showing that the ways of man are what pass away with the onset of the new heavens and new earth.)
2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,… (Paul quotes this from Isaiah 52:11 which has to do with the requirement for Israel’s behavior coming out of captivity. He applied that behavior to true Christians today.)
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
1 John 2:17 And the world (kosmos) passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. ( The Christian has to live today as Israel will live in the new heavens and new earth.)
Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
Hebrews 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
Psalms 46:6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
Psalms 97:5 The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
Amos 9:5 And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.
1:5 The mountains quake at him, and the
hills melt, and the
earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
Revelation 20:11 (Notice that this verse begins a new thought and paragraph. This is not the same time frame as the verses described just before verse 11.) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (The ‘old’ heaven and earth pass away within same time frame as the Judgment Day. So, what is ‘fled’ or ‘passed away’? Also, with the absence of the ‘old’ the presence of the ‘new’ must fill the vacuum immediately, right?)
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (The
context of this and related scriptures shows us that this “Great White Throne
Judgment”, as some refer to it, takes place at the return of The Lord and His Christ
[see article by same name], also called the “2nd Coming” by many. It is not
postponed for 1,000 years as some would place it.)
Consider now, if you will, yet another one of the 285 ‘old’ parts of Revelation.
Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Why is Revelation 21:22-23 ‘old’ scripture? Because of this next scripture:
Isaiah 60:18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. 19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. 20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. 21 Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.
The conclusion of the matter is this. As you have seen from looking at many scriptures from the ‘old’ and ‘new’ scriptures, the phrase ‘the new heavens and new earth’ does not refer to an end of physical existence of our planet. It does, however, specify that there is a ‘change’ (Hebrews 1:12) coming that will involve a new way of thinking and behaving for those living and participating in this “new heavens and new earth”. This ‘new’ Way of Life is the result of the implementation of the promised New Covenant in the very hearts of those who serve the God of Israel in His personal possession- Israel, exactly as promised in those ‘old’ scriptures, so many years ago. Please read The New Jerusalem – How ‘New’ Is It? for a more complete explanation of this renewal.