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The New Heaven and New Earth

The New Heaven and New Earth

Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two of Revelation provides us a preview of what the new heaven and the new earth will be like in eternity. In verses one through eight, we have a review of eternal issues – a summary view of things. The New Jerusalem is described in verses nine through twenty-seven, and the first six verses of chapter twenty-two. The remaining verses of chapter twenty-two provide a Divine epilogue of practical messages from the glorified Lord.

The twenty-first chapter begins with a statement about a new heaven and a 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” (Rev. 21:1). The concept of a new earth is foreign to most of us for we have always assumed that when we die, we would go to heaven. We sing about its beauty and of our going there. But what do we know about the earth? We know it is going to be burned up, and we assume there will be no need for the earth. However, Jesus said that both heaven and earth will pass away (Matt. 24:35). The new heaven and new earth will move close to each other, and the New Jerusalem will be the center of the universe. All creation will revolve around the New Jerusalem.

Both Isaiah and Peter write of new heavens and a new earth. However, they place the new creation in the context of the Millennium or “The Day of God”. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isa. 65:17).

Chapters sixty-five and sixty-six of Isaiah provide us some of the details of the Millennium. We should also note that Isaiah and Peter use the plural, heavens, indicating that they are talking about the physical universal – not the City of God.

From the writings of Isaiah and Peter, it is easy to assume that the new heavens and new earth will be created before or during the Millennium. Since the new heaven, new heavens and new earth are sin free, this can only be true if the Millennium precedes the creation of the New Heaven and New Earth. It is difficult to determine the sequence of events and programs from the written prophecy. All prophecy must be looked at as a whole and in view of God’s grand plan for the ages. However, there will be much renovation taking place preceding and during the Millennium.

Isaiah tells us that our memories will fade, and we will not remember many things of the past. How much we will remember is not known, but the Bible is clear that we will know each other in our new glorified bodies. We may not remember many sad things like our sorrows, and tribulations and those who have perished.

The apostle Peter said when discussing the events to come. “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:7-8).

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

It seems that Peter is giving us a summary of events beginning with the return of the Lord to earth. We must keep in mind that the Bible speaks of three heavens. At the end of the Tribulation period, both the earth and the first heaven, the atmosphere, will be burning. This probably refers to the destruction during the final days of the Tribulation.

There is another issue. In eternity, since the light of the Lord will be our light (Rev. 21:23), there will be no sun or moon. This means that the sun and the moon will be destroyed and raises questions about the rest of the stellar heaven – the second heaven. What is going to happen to the stars and planets? In some form they are to be recreated.

Although there has been much discussion about the New Heaven and New Earth, we must remember that John saw the vision after the Millennium was completed. Also, there was some rebellion and evil on the earth during the Millennium, but chapter twenty-one and chapter twenty-two of Revelation clearly states that there is no evil in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Some scholars suggest that there are two views of the New Heaven and the New Earth – taking place at two different times. However, this is not unusual in the prophetic word as there are many prophetic shadows. After all evil is removed from His presence, God will complete His final creation.

“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.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death'” (Rev. 21:2-8).

John saw the New Jerusalem, which is the crowning glory of God’s creation, descending out of heaven. The New Jerusalem will be the New Heaven, and God will dwell in it and have fellowship with His people. The New Jerusalem is moving to a new place, probably to the New Earth. The Bible does not tell us that the New Jerusalem is created at this time. We do not know when it was created, but it is being moved to a new location. It is going to be the capital of the eternal kingdom, and Christ and His saints will rule over His kingdom from the New Jerusalem.

Based upon the fact that the above, verse two, follows the statement about the earth, John is seeing the city move to the earth. Most prophetic scholars believe that there will be a New Earth, possibly larger than the present earth, with the New Jerusalem attached to it or just above it. We must remember that God has promised the Jews an eternal home on the earth. It appears that those coming out of the Millennium will receive new glorified bodies and will live upon the New Earth. Seas, which have separated the Nations for a long time, will no longer exist. The people will also have a pure language.

Description of the New Jerusalem

John described the New Jerusalem as a foursquare city that is 1500 miles (12000 furlongs) wide, 1500 miles long and 1500 miles tall. Its shape could be that of a cube or a pyramid. Some think the view may be better from a pyramid, which would look like a huge mountain. However, the view will be great from any point in the city. It may be that the wall is 1500 miles high, and the city is built on a mountain – it is hard to imagine that we will be living in the largest high rise ever built. The glory of God will provide the light of the city, and it will shine as a precious jasper stone – clear as crystal. The walls of the city will be over two hundred feet thick and made of jasper – we are not given the height. The wall will be symbolic of the exclusiveness of the city – the gates will never close.

We will get a better understanding of the size of the city when we compare it to a landmass with which we are familiar. The city would encompass an area from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Mississippi River to the Eastern Seaboard. There will be enough room for everyone to have a great mansion – maybe with a hilltop view or along a river or lake. A waterfall would also be nice.

The wall sits upon twelve foundations made of twelve precious stones (see separate description). Some have speculated how these stones will be laid. They may be side by side with each being about 500 miles long or they may be laid on top of each other. Some have suggested that they will become columns supporting the New Jerusalem above the earth. On each foundation is written the name of one of the twelve apostles.

The twelve apostles were promised by Jesus that they would sit on twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:27-28). Now we see that their names are written on the twelve foundations of the city. This is symbolic of their role of bringing the gospel to the world. Paul tells us: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph 2:20). The question remains, who will be the twelfth apostle – will it be Matthias (Acts 1:26) or Paul?

The city has twelve gates, three on each side, and each gate is made of a single pearl. Standing beside each gate are twelve angels, and on each gate is the name of one of the tribes of Israel. It was through Israel that God revealed Himself by the law and the prophets, and from Israel that God sent His Son to pay the price of sin.

The city is pure gold and appears as pure glass. At the apex of the city is the throne of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. The apex would imply that the city is built on a hill. There is no temple in the city since the Lord is the temple. There is no longer a need for a temple as the people have free access and fellowship with the Lord. The people worship God at His throne. From the throne, the glory of God shines with more brilliance than the sun.

A great street will run down from the throne of God and the river of life, which is as clear as a crystal, will flow through the middle of the street. No one will ever thirst again. The trees of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, are on each side of the river. The trees will yield fruit each month leading many to speculate that there will be a different type of fruit each month. In the Garden of Eden, man was not allowed to eat of the tree of life, but now he can eat freely thereof. The leaves of the trees are used for the healing of the nations on earth, a symbol of peace and goodwill to all.

In the New Jerusalem, there will be many mansions. We are not told this in Revelation, but Jesus said that in His Father’s house there are many mansions and that He was going to prepare a place for us ( John 14:2). Based upon the size of the city, it seems that these mansions are going to be very impressive.

There will no longer be a curse on God’s creation. No longer will there be death, mourning, crying or pain.

Darkness will pass away and there will always be light, and the people will serve the Lord and Lamb. God will write His name on their foreheads.

The Epilogue

In the last few verses of the Bible, we are told that these words are faithful and true and that these things must shortly take place. Jesus says that He will come quickly and blessed are those who keep the words of the prophecy of this book. Jesus said that He would bring His reward with Him. We will be receiving crowns and rewards based upon our works. Jesus said that He is the Alpha and the Omega and those who do His commandments may have the right to the tree of life and may freely enter into the city.

John is told to not seal the words of prophecy, which he has received. We will remember that Daniel was told to seal his words of prophecy. The word of prophecy is now complete, and John is not to seal it. It can now be understood. A final warning is given to us not to add to or take away from prophecy or our names will be taken out of the book of life, and we will be eternally separated from God. He will not allow mankind to modify His plan for the ages and we cannot devise a plan to save ourselves.

Additional details are provided below. Just click on the title.

1. A Profile of the New Jerusalem

2. Precious Stones of the New Jerusalem Foundations

3. What the Bible says about heaven

4. Quotes of dying people

5. God’s Plan for Our Activities in Eternity