Set Your Minds on Heaven Part 8: New Heavens and the New Earth

Colossians 3:1–2 (ESV) 

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

1.  Scripture’s Theme of the New Heavens and New Earth

This theme of the Heavens and New Earth appears in both Old and New Testaments.

Isaiah 65:17 (ESV) 

17    “For behold, I create new heavens 

and a new earth, 

       and the former things shall not be remembered 

or come into mind. 

God creates a new Heaven and a new Earth so utterly amazing and fascinating by their splendor, so satisfying to the soul and mind that the remembrance of the first earth will not even enter our minds.  
Psalm 102:25–27 (ESV) 

25    Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, 

and the heavens are the work of your hands. 

26    They will perish, but you will remain; 

they will all wear out like a garment. 

       You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 

27        but you are the same, and your years have no end. 

The writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 102 in Hebrews 1:11-12 to explain the ultimate supremacy of Jesus Christ.  His argument is that even the Heavens and the Earth will pass away but Jesus Christ, God’s Son remains forever.

Then, in John’s final vision he writes,

Revelation 21:1–5 (ESV) 

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I 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 the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 

The first verse of the first chapter of the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In verse 27, God creates man as male and female in his own image, and then says in verse 31 that it is all very good. In chapter three, Adam and Eve reject God as their supreme wisdom and beauty and desire and thus bring down God’s curse on themselves, their posterity, and the natural order of creation: “Cursed is the ground because of you [says the Lord]; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17).

Genesis 3:15 holds out hope that this curse will not be the last word for God’s creation. God says to the soul-destroying, creation-destroying serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The apostle Paul sees this hope in the midst of this curse and puts it like this in

Romans 8:20–21:

The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

So the big picture in outline form: God created the universe out of nothing; it was all very good the way he made it; it had no flaws, no suffering, no pain, no death, no evil; then Adam and Eve did something in their hearts that was so horrifyingly evil — so unspeakably wicked, preferring the fruit of a tree to fellowship with God — that God not only sentenced them to death (Genesis 2:17), but also subjected the entire creation to what Paul called “futility” and “bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:21–22).

Why did God subject the natural order to such futility because of the sin of human beings? The natural order did not sin. Humans sinned. But Paul said, “The creation was subjected to futility.” The creation was put in “bondage to corruption.” Why? God said, “Cursed be the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17)But why? Why are there natural disasters in creation in response to moral failures in man? Why not just simple death for all the guilty offspring of Adam? Why this bloody kaleidoscope of horrific suffering century after century? Why so many children with heart-wrenching disabilities?

My answer is that God put the natural world under a curse so that the physical horrors we see around us in diseases and calamities would become vivid pictures of how horrible sin is. In other words, natural evil is a signpost pointing to the unspeakable horror of moral evil.

God disordered the natural world because of the disorder of the moral and spiritual world — that is, because of sin. In our present fallen condition, with our hearts so blinded to the exceeding wickedness of sin, we cannot see or feel how repugnant sin is. Hardly anyone in the world feels the abhorrent evil that our sin is. Almost no one is incensed or nauseated at the way they belittle the glory of God. But let their bodies be touched with pain, and God is called to give an account of himself. We are not upset at the way we injure his glory, but let him injury our little pinky finger and all our moral outrage is aroused. Which shows how self-exalting and God-dethroning we are.

Beloved, there is coming a day when the curse will be gone.  We will be glorified and as we’ll learn, we will be living on a glorified Earth.

2.  Key Words

            A.  Kainos- New.  Something created by God supernaturally. 

This is the word used by Paul in…

Ephesians 2:14–16 (ESV) 

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

Ephesians 4:20–24 (ESV) 

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

This same word is used…

                        The New Jerusalem- 

Revelation 3:12–13 (ESV) 

12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ 

                        A New Name-

Revelation 2:17 (ESV) 

17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ 

                        A New Song-

Revelation 5:9 (ESV) 

And they sang a new song, saying, 

       “Worthy are you to take the scroll 

and to open its seals, 

       for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God 

from every tribe and language and people and nation, 

                        All Things New-

Revelation 21:5 (ESV) 

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 

In other places we read about those born again are God’s new creation…

                        The New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Much like when we receive our glorified bodies the current heaven and earth will, in a very real sense, also be glorified.

            B.  Stoicheia

This word means elements or the first principle element that which the world consists.  

In order for all things to be new, the old must be destroyed/judged by fire.

2 Peter 3:7–13 (ESV) 

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 

In the Liddell Greek-English Lexicon the definition given is the components through which matter is ultimately divisible.  

            C.  Luo– Loosed.  In 2 Peter 3, he writes about the elements or atoms being dissolved.  Perhaps like nuclear fission?  

This is the key word in the releasing of Lazarus…

John 11:44 (ESV) 

44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The idea here is the setting free that which has been bound.  

At the end of the age there will be a great work of God in which all things as we know them will be dissolved and remade new.  

Romans 8:22–25 (ESV) 

22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Creation waits and even groans for the day when it is also saved/glorified.  

The present earth, destined to be burned up will not be destroyed but renewed and refined.  It will be purged from all moral and natural imperfections.  

Resources-
The Glory of Heaven by MacArthur

The Biblical Doctrine of Heaven by Wilbur Smith

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