Frequently Asked Questions
New Heavens & New Earth?
Question: What Is Meant By The Promise Of A New Heavens & New Earth?
One passage in the Old Testament containing that promise is Isaiah 65:17: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." What sometimes is forgotten is that every passage has a context. Isaiah was a 7th century BC prophet. His work was just before the destruction of Judah by the Babylonians. Much of his book of 66 chapters has to do with the people's sin, which was the cause of the coming destruction. But there are also many prophecies within Isaiah that foretell of the coming Messiah and the "new order" that would be under the Christ, and under His new covenant. Isaiah 65:17 is one such prophecy. Isaiah, like Jeremiah, foretold of the end of the old Jewish order, and the new provisions that would be ushered in under Christ (see also Jeremiah 31:31-34). The key to understanding the "new heaven and a new earth" of v. 17 is v. 25, "...They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain...". This is the same mountain referred to in Isa. 2:2-4, which spoke of the mountain of the Lord's house that would be established in the latter days. The New Testament clearly shows that the latter days were ushered in on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:16,17. The mountain that was spoken of is identified as spiritual Mount Zion; it is "the general assembly and church of the firstborn..." (Hebrews 12:23). This is without doubt the meaning of Isaiah's prophecy in 65:17. Then in the New Testament Peter also refers to new heavens and a new earth: "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:13). Peter uses this expression, in a context referring to the second coming of Christ, to describe the final dwelling place of the righteous, which is heaven itself, as Jesus taught in John 14:1-4). Notice that the "new heavens and the new earth" are promised after the present heavens and earth have been destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10). So the context, and the teaching of other passages, show that this term (new heavens and new earth) is a figurative expression for heaven itself. Another reference is that of Revelation 21:1: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away (v.1). At the second coming, the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire but the righteous will receive their glorious state. This new heaven and new earth which John saw is the new and glorified state of the saved. As Peter stated, the present earth on which we now live will pass away. It is stored up for fire (II Pet. 3:7, 10). Just as Isaiah's new heaven and new earth looked unto the New Testament order (Isa. 65:17-25), the new heaven and new earth of Peter and John looks unto the "new order" which begins at the consummation of the Christian age. The heaven and new earth of Rev. 21:1 is that city which was looked for by the godly men and women of old, "which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Heb. 11:10, 13-16). Again, it is heaven itself which is being described. The reward of the saved is in heaven (Mt. 5:12; 6:19; John 14:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:3,4). There is no passage that promises everlasting life on the earth.
© Copyright, Leon Mauldin, 1994-2007