NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH
By Larry White
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
There are a lot of different notions about what this is talking about, and there are a lot of different opinions of when the events of the book of Revelation should be dated as taking place. But what cannot be ignored, is the obvious references in the rest of the Bible to what is occurring in the book of Revelation.
For instance, Jesus says this in:
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name.”
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
So here we have an indication from Jesus that what we read in Revelation had happened or was beginning to happen in the time-frame of His ministry. This could be a spiritual realm reckoning of time, i.e. "the time is coming and now is."
The book of Revelation is written in Old Testament scriptural terms, or prophetic, apocalyptic language. It is completely colored by the Old Testament types and figures, and in order to understand the book, then we have to be familiar with the Old Testament prophetic language.
Three of the terms that I would like to look at are New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem found in
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then he who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And he said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
In order to look at these terms, first I would like to briefly look at the subject of ages.
The word Age in the Greek is aion (aiwn) which meant a very, very long time and is sometimes translated "forever" or unto the ages of the ages, i.e. forever and ever. Then by metonymy it meant what was contained in that time period, the world, or the world system or world order. This is from where we get our English word "eon", a very long period of time. Each world age is thought of and described by what occurs in that time period and therefore can carry the idea of worlds.
To illustrate, sometimes we might daydream about living in the past somewhere, maybe the 1800s (simple life) and we think - that's a whole different world. That may be close to the Bible's use of Aion.
During Christ's time in the first century, they had an end of an age and the beginning of a new one. We even mark our calendars to reflect that change in B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini) the year of our Lord. Jesus came at the end of an age.
For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another – he then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
The Christians in the first century experienced the end of one age and the beginning of another, but this one marked an event in the history of mankind that is the most important of all events, therefore Paul calls it the culmination or the fulfillment of the ages. When all the ages past and all the ages yet to come are taken together, this was the turning point, this was the seminal event of all time, of all ages. This was the end (Greek sunteleia), the completion together, or the culmination of the ages.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
The disciples of Christ asked Jesus when the end of the age would be.
1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and his disciples came up to show him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
3 Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Then at the end of all the signs that he gives them he adds a time line for them.
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
So we see that the end of the age would be marked by the destruction of the temple, and that it would happen in their lifetime. We know from history that the Roman armies came against Jerusalem and razed it to the ground in AD 70. So to represent this time period I would like to use this graph.
I believe that this middle time period of 40 years is the time of the war in heaven. (Rev.12) In fact, I believe that this period includes most of the book of Revelation, if not all of it, along with the prophesies that Jesus gave about this time in Mt.24, Mk.13 and Lk.21, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.
Now Jerusalem was not just destroyed in AD 70, it was replaced and superseded or transcended by a New Jerusalem - a heavenly Jerusalem as opposed to an earthly, physical Jerusalem. We all know this heavenly Jerusalem to be the church from Heb.12:18-23.
For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
So you had a physical Zion, a physical Jerusalem and in the middle of it - superimposed over it, God created a spiritual Zion, a heavenly Jerusalem. In this 40 year period of time you had them both existing together, until God destroyed the old one. That is not to say that the Law was still in effect, because Jesus nailed that law to his cross. However it was still being practiced as a law.
If there was anything left of the Jews, they had no right anymore to be called Israel, or to come before God as such, or to worship.
We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
The people over in Palestine now who call themselves Israel, are doubly out of it. They and all the denominations think God is going to come back and restore their nation - when they have completely missed the living and true Israel that is here and now. We, the church, are the Israel of God. (Gal.6:16) They are trying to revive the old dead chrysalis or the cocoon of the caterpillar - not realizing that the butterfly has already dried her wings and flown away, i.e. the heavenly Jerusalem.
Now, along with this New Jerusalem came a new Heaven and a new Earth.
So that he who blesses himself in the earth
Shall bless himself in the God of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Shall swear by the God of truth;
Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from my eyes.
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in my people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.
"No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
The idea of heaven is that the economy or system in heaven was going to change, and the new earth would mean that there was going to be a new order in the affairs of men. Everything that used to be (former things) was going to be changed, both heaven and earth.
Again you have the overlapping of these two economies, and when God does away with the physical, temporary one then the spiritual, eternal one will remain.
...to the general assembly and assembly of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
See that you do not refuse him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”
Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
For our God is a consuming fire.
"Receiving" is present, active. We are receiving a kingdom in the sense that even though Christians were being translated into the kingdom since the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, it was not in its fullness and really not possessed by the saints until all opposition had been put down. All enemies had to be conquered by Christ before the kingdom was said to have come. The old Jewish nation, the enemies of Christ, had to be destroyed, and that happened when Jerusalem was shaken and taken out of the way. (Rev.11:8-18; 2Tim.4:1; Lk.19:27) After Jerusalem was destroyed, then they were to look for the kingdom. It would happen within their lifetime.
So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.
Let us then look at this heaven and earth that has passed away. Please refer to my chart.
1. It is characterized by Satan being able to Accuse us
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.
And Jehovah said to Satan, "Jehovah rebuke you, Satan! Jehovah who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?"
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
2. Justice was Delayed.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things about to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
3. Hades. Since justice is delayed, God could not give final rewards to anyone - if he had, then he would have had to condemned everyone for whom Jesus was yet to die.
Lk.16:22-31 - Jesus' description of Hades.
Lk.23:43 - Where Jesus went when he died.
Acts 2:27 - This is from where he was resurrected.
4. The main characteristic of the old heaven was that is was Inaccessible.
Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience – concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
Since Heaven was inaccessible because of sin, we see again why God suffered mankind to die physically, if they had been translated in their sins they would not ever have been able to come to God. So he placed them in a holding tank, as it were, in Hades so that he could keep them from judgement until after the sacrifice of Jesus.
This time of reformation or "new order" (NIV), (diorqwsewV, making straight, restoring to a normal state) is of course the new heavens and new earth that we will be discussing is a moment.
1. The main characteristic of the old earth is Sin.
Rom.3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Gal.3:22 "But the scripture has confined all under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."
2. Because of sin man was given a Law.
Gal.3:19 "It was added because of transgressions."
This could mean that it was to hold sin in check till saints were created in Christ. It could also mean to give man a knowledge of what sin does. It worked death.
"Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But Sin, that it might appear Sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that Sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under Sin."
3. Because we had sin and the law, this brought Death to man.
I was living once without law, but when the commandment came, Sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.
4. And because of this whole situation, the children of God labored under the Law in servile Fear.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again leading to fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Now, from this depressing view of Heaven and Earth, you can see why the prophesy of a New Heaven and Earth would be a ray of hope into a bleak and suffering world. ("A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.")
Let us now look at the New Heaven.
1. The first thing we notice is that Satan is Cast Out.
9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
The reason he was cast out is in the next verse.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
2. Now you can have Justification, because Jesus died for us and Satan cannot accuse us anymore. He was booted out of heaven.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one condemning? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
3. Now since we are justified through the death of Christ - there is the theory that God no longer needs Hades - because he can now be just in giving people their Rewards.
There is definitely some scriptural support for this.
And for this reason he is the mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is about to judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom:
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that is about to be revealed:
There is no room for Hades in these verses.
Then there is a resurrection that Daniel speaks of that seems to pertain to this time period, the time of the end, or the end of the age, the end of his people and nation.
1 "At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.
4 "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."
All of this seems to indicate that there is no longer a Hades. Hades was like a holding tank; a place where people were locked up and not allowed to finally be justified or condemned until Christ had accomplished his atoning sacrifice at Jerusalem. When the redemption price was paid then he could let everyone out of the lock-up, for only he had the keys of death and of Hades. (Rev.1:18) As a man, the only way that Jesus could have come out of Hades is if his blood was effective to secure his release and therefore the release of everyone else; "who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification." Rom.4:25.
4. Now instead of heaven being inaccessible, we have heaven Opened to us.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, his flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
1. Now there is joy in the world because instead of sin there is Forgiveness and victory.
Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
2. Instead of the Law we now have a New Covenant.
But now he has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as he is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, he says:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in my covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,’ for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
In that he says, “A new covenant,” he has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
This law he has put in our hearts, is done by the agency of the Holy Spirit who is in our hearts.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of Sin and Death.
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and on account of Sin: he condemned Sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
So with the new law in our hearts, as we walk in the spirit we have the righteousness demanded by the Old Covenant Law fulfilled in ourselves.
3. And because of this we have Life. The law in our hearts is the law of the Spirit of Life. (Rom.8:2) We were dead in sins but now he has made us alive together with Christ. (Eph.2:5)
4. And now because of this we can have Confidence instead of fear. We can come boldly unto the throne of grace. (Heb.4:16) We can have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus. (Heb.10:19)
We can have confidence also because we are now sons of God and we are not serving in fear, but we are obeying a loving Father as his dear children in accordance with the divine life created in us.
5. Let us add to the chart: Earthly Tabernacle in the Old Earth. (Heb.13:10-14)
They that serve this temple made with hands have no right to partake of the true Tabernacle, the Heavenly Jerusalem in the New Earth.
"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God."
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things about to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone ruins the temple of God, God will ruin him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
Here we learn that the temple is us, the church. God now dwells with us, and we with him. This is part of the restoration of all things. What man lost in the garden has all now been restored by God in Christ. This is to what Peter referred in Acts 3:19-21
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
ApokatastasewV is a restoring back to a normal and healthy state of something that was lost. Man in the garden fell from a normal, healthy relationship and state in the presence of God. In Christ it is all restored. We now have our place as children of God, our dignity as mature sons in the divine household. And we have all the spiritual blessings and inheritance that God bestows upon his sons. We have even now, eternal life in Christ - growing up into his image, reflecting the glory of God.
Nevertheless, according to his promise, we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
The new heavens and earth to which they were looking forward, we now enjoy in the kingdom of God. We have the glory and the eternal life now and since the physical, fleshly Israel has been destroyed, the true Israel of God can now be seen. (Gal.6:16) This corresponds to the revealing of the Sons of God.
... and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together.
For I account that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to come which shall be revealed unto us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, 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 freedom of the glory 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 first-fruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
From what we have gone over so far, I think we should all remember who we are.
For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again.
Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him thus no longer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
We are a new creature - something that the world up to the time of Christ, had never seen before. We need, by faith in what God says about us and our new life, to put on the new man created in Christ Jesus. Assume your position before God in Christ and let Christ live in and through you.
Like Paul teaches in Romans 6:11, we need to account that what we see in the risen Jesus to be also true of us. We do not have to respond to people and situations and problems from our own resources and strength - but rather, believe that Jesus is living in you, (Gal.2:20) that he is working through you - that his life is your life (the life of the new man). All his resources of life, strength, holiness, wisdom, self-control and love are yours by faith in him, when you give him your life, when you live unto him.
Rom.13:14 "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ": that is, be the new spiritual man that God has created in this new age. You are something more than just a patched-up old sinner. You are a new being in God's new universe.
God said in Rev.21:5, "Behold, I make all things new."
Would you like to share in this new creation, this new heaven and earth?
To be a new creature we have to be in Christ. To be in Christ we can do just what every other convert to Christ in the scriptures did to be saved, whether Jew or Gentile:
Have faith in the death of Christ for your sins, and that God raised him from the dead.
Change your mind about how you have lived, that is what God calls repentance.
Be baptized (immersed in water) for the remission of your sins.
You will be raised to walk in the newness of life that we have been talking about.
Then as Christians, we strive to put on the new man and walk in the spirit, because we are in a new age now; we have a new heaven and a new earth, of which one day the whole universe will finally become aware. At that time all who are in Christ will finally be seen for what they truly are, shining in glory along with Jesus.
(Originally delivered as a sermon in Eagle Point, OR. August 12, 1984)