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The New Heavens And The New Earth....
Many Christians are surprised when Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on their doors point out the scriptures on a promised new earth. Many Christians are so "heavenly-minded" that they cannot discuss the Bible promises of a new heavens AND a new earth. We hope to correct that problem here, with a better understanding of what Scripture teaches about the "new heavens and the new earth".
PROMISED IN THE BIBLE
The promise of such an arrangement is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Isaiah 65:17 says this:
"For behold I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind."
Here is a promise of God to CREATE new heavens and a new earth. This word "create" is a key word in God's promise. Notice that He doesn't say he will cleanse the old one, but that He will create a new one. This is in line with the prophecy in Zephaniah, chapter one, which contains a judgement by God on the earth, sky, and sea, followed by a judgement on Judah and then on the Gentiles, in later chapters.
Consider carefully the words of Yahweh God in Zephaniah, chapter one, verse two:
"I will completely remove all things from the face of the earth", declares the LORD".
This is pretty plain, isn't it? God intends to remove ALL THINGS from the face of the earth. He elaborates further in verse 3,
"I will remove man and beast; I will remove the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, and the ruins along with the wicked; and I will cut off man from the face of the earth."
Now there is no way we can "spiritualize" or "figuratize" this Scripture away. Nor can we claim that it is already fulfilled, or has some application to only a small locality. When God says He will cut off man from the face of the earth, the Hebrew word used for "man" is "Adamah", that is, all descendents of Adam. Verse 14 continues,
"Near is the great day of the LORD (YHWH), near and coming very quickly. Listen the day of the LORD! "
After a very vivid description of the distress to come, verse 18 says plainly,
"Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the Lord's wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for he will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth."
If I was placing my hope in an organization that promised me I would survive Armageddon and live on into the promised new earth, I would have to seriously consider my position in the light of the Scriptures just read. If God says He will remove ALL INHABITANTS of the earth, then there is no possible way I can expect to remain. No one will remain.
NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH
2 Peter 3:10-13 speaks of this time also,
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells."
No flesh could survive such an occurrence unless God placed them in a place of safety, just as He placed Noah and his family in the ark when he destroyed the world in Noah's day. The place of safety CANNOT be anywhere in the vicinity of this earth, so those hoping that the place of safety is within their organization, will have their hopes cruelly dashed when God's judgement falls.
Some hope to survive by clinging to the vain hope that the earth will continue to "abide". Let's look at that Scripture, which at first glance, may seem to contradict the ones just considered. Ecclesiastes 1:4 says this,
"A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever".
Solomon wrote this Scripture at a time in his life when he had ceased to serve the Lord. He wrote from a very humanistic point of view, and his own thoughts are recorded here. These are not necessarily God's thoughts.
For example, in verse 2 of the same chapter, Ecclesiastes 1, Solomon makes the statement, "All is vanity". This is not true--all is NOT vanity for the child of God. He says in verse 8, "all things are wearisome". Again, not so, for the child of God. In verse 15 he says, "What is crooked cannot be straightened", yet Jesus makes the crooked way straight.
The book of Ecclesiastes is included in Scripture to show us the futility of man without God. Notice the use of the phrase "under the sun" in this book. Not all of his humanistic statements applied to life "under the sun" should be regarded as the last word from God.
There is no doubt that there is room for two opinions, Biblically speaking, as to whether God will destroy the literal earth as such. However, whether or not the literal earth remains, the fact is that ALL INHABITANTS will not! They must be in God's place of safety through the coming destruction, for neither man nor beast nor fish will remain, according to the prophet Zephaniah. Yet, in Chapter 2, verse 3, he says this,
"Seek the Lord all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances, seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger."
Hidden where? Where is this special place of safety? It cannot be anywhere in the vicinity of the earth, nor within any earthly organization. All the earth will be consumed and all inhabitants with it, according to the prophecy.
We have only one hope to be redeemed from this day of judgement and destruction, and that hope is in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. When this matter of the end of the world was discussed with His disciples in various parts of the New Testament, the disciples were looking for comfort from their Lord. Jesus did not disappoint them. In John 14 Jesus said to His disciples,
"Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also".
Here, then is our place of safety. Our promise as Christians is that we will be wherever Jesus Christ is.
I never argue about going to heaven versus staying on earth with the misguided zealots at my door. I tell them that if they wish to stay behind on earth and suffer the consequences, they are perfectly free to do so. Their publications are careful never to bring to their attention the scriptures saying all inhabitants of the earth will be destroyed, since it disagrees with their theology.
I tell them that my hope as a blood-washed, born-again Christian is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who ALONE will prepare a place for me. If Jesus is in heaven, then I will be in heaven. If Jesus is in the air, then I will meet Him in the air. If Jesus comes down to earth, then I will be with Him on earth. The place of safety is in the Lord Jesus Christ, and none other. Jesus went on to say in verse 6 of John 14, "I am the way, the truth and the life". If you speak of your organization's teachings as "the truth", you are usurping the authority of Jesus Christ.
ON THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH
Let's now consider the final Scriptures on the new heavens and the new earth contained in the Bible book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22. Chapter 21 opens by the Apostle John saying,
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband." Verse 5 says, "Behold I am making all things new", and He said "Write for these words are faithful and true".
Read Revelation chapters 21 and 22 carefully so you will become aware that indeed God will make "all things new". The new heavens and the new earth are, in fact, one arrangement, with the new heavens coming down and joining the new earth. Revelation 21:22,23, says of this new arrangement,
And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple". "And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb."
Verse 25 tells us there will be "no night". This is a new arrangement, created by God as promised, NEW heavens and a NEW earth. Christians long for this day and say, "Amen, come Lord Jesus".