Section 9B .. The Future

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What And Where is Heaven?..
Part V... A New Heaven and A New Earth

God never had any intention of always maintaining a heaven somewhere 'up there', quite separate from earth.

Carol Brooks

Index To All Six Sections

Part I ...   "Heaven" v. The Promised Kingdom of God

 Part II ... The Location and Nature of Heaven... The Promises and The Prophecies

Part III ... Jesus' Second Coming and The Resurrection of The Body

Part IV ... What The Bible Says About The Resurrected Body

You Are Here 001orange Part V ... A New Heaven and A New Earth

Part VI ... No More Sea?

 Part VI ... The Bema or Judgment Seat of Christ, and Rewards in Heaven


The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:21-22 NASB)

The Earth is Permanent
Psalm 104:5 and Ecclesiastes 1:4 some of the verses  quoted in defense of the perpetual earth position.

    He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever (Heb. olam) and ever.  (Psalms 104:5 NASB)

    A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever (Heb. olam)  (Ecclesiastes 1:4 NASB)

The Hebrew word olam was translated "forever" in the above verses. However, it can but does not necessarily mean a literal eternity. Strong's Lexicon defines olam as "long duration, antiquity, futurity". (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/5769.htm). Here are three example in which olam very definitely means an eternity

    "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting (Heb. olam) covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." (Genesis 9:16 NASB)

    Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting (Heb. olam) God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. (Isaiah 40:28 NASB)

    "I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting (Heb. olam) possession; and I will be their God."  (Genesis 17:8 NASB)

However, in the following verse olam cannot be understood quite as literally, but refers to a long, indefinite period. 

    then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently (Heb. olam). (Exodus 21:6 NASB)

So many of the Old Testament rituals and sacrifices were called "permanent", but they were all eventually replaced (Hebrews 10:11-12)

    Now you shall have this as a permanent (Heb. olam) statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year." And just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so he did.  (Leviticus 16:34 NASB)

    Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual (Heb. olam)  statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.  (Leviticus 23:14 NASB)

    It shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the Lord's offerings by fire, his portion forever (Heb. olam)  (Leviticus 24:9 NASB)

    "Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, dedicating it to Him, to burn fragrant incense before Him and to set out the showbread continually, and to offer burnt offerings morning and evening, on sabbaths and on new moons and on the appointed feasts of the Lord our God, this being required forever in Israel. (2 Chronicles 2:4 NASB)

The Earth Will Be Destroyed

On the other hand, there are several verses of Scripture that seem to indicate the present earth and heaven will one day be completely destroyed, then replaced by an entirely new creation. One example from each of the Testaments 

    For behold, I create new (Heb. hadasim) heavens and a new (Heb. hadasah) earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. (Isaiah 65:17-19 NASB) (Note: hadasah is transliterated chadash)

    Then I saw a new (Gk. kainos) heaven and a new (Gk. kainos) earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1 NASB)

However, these verses are not conclusive proof of the total obliteration of the earth, simply because both the Hebrew chdsh and the Greek kainos do not necessarily mean something that has recently come into being. Both words can also mean something fresh or rejuvenated. For example, in the following verses, the Lord's kindness is renewed every morning as the psalmist said (a), and people's heart's are renewed or refreshed, not replaced (b).

    a) The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new (Heb. chdsh) every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB)

    b) Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new (Heb. chdsh) heart and a new (Heb. chdsh) spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 18:31 NASB. Also see Ezekiel 36:26)

Although kainos largely means brand new, there are instances in the NT where new doesn't make any sense at all, but renewed does. In fact, Strong's defines kainos as "new (especially in freshness)" thus it is rendered "fresh" in the first example.

    a) Nor do people put new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the wine skins burst, and the wine pours out and the wine skins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh (Gk. kainos) wine skins, and both are preserved." (Matthew 9:17 NASB)

    b) Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new (Gk. kainos) creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB) (Also see Ephesians 4:24)

Earth and Heaven Flee
Some take Revelation 20:11 to indicate that the old heaven and earth no longer exist. It reads

    "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them",

Much of Revelation is not meant to be taken literally. This verse like many other in the Psalms paints a picture of God's majesty so overwhelming that even the planets cannot stand before Him. Saying the earth and heaven "fled" before God is dramatization.

Zephaniah 1:2-3, 18
It is true that one prophet of old told us that Yahweh will utterly consume 'everything off the face of the earth'. However, that phrase does not include the planet itself

    I will completely remove all things from the face of the earth," declares the Lord. "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," declares the Lord... 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. (Zephaniah 1:2-3, 18 NASB)

As an aside, "those who have turned back from following the Lord, and those who have not sought the Lord or inquired of Him" are included in this destruction (Verse 6) See The Message of the Bible   and   The Warning of The Bible

2 Peter 3:10-13
Peter's second letter seems to unambiguously, point towards the heavens and the earth being totally burned up by fire. Or does it?

In chapter 3, Peter warns scoffers that not only will the day of the Lord come, but that it will be sudden, unexpected, and disastrous for all who have not repented of their sins. There will be no escape. He exhorts his readers to remember how God destroyed the world once before and tells them that when that day does arrive the heavens will pass away with a roar, the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

    (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens (Gk. ouranoi) will pass away with a roar and the elements (Gk. stoicheion) will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth (Gk. ge) and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10 NASB)

An element is a fundamental, essential and irreducible (cannot be reduced any further) component or constituent of a complete whole. In other words, it is the simplest component of a complex substance. However, there is more than one school of thought regarding the phrase "burned up"

    There is a difficult textual variant on that last verb, with many reliable manuscripts reading, "will be found. If it is original, the idea is probably as the NIV translates, "will be laid bare, or as the ESV puts it, "be exposed. The idea would then be that those who thought that they could hide their sins from God will be exposed. No one, no matter how clever, will get away with anything. [01] 

On the other hand, in his first book Peter wrote that like gold (refined by melting it and extracting any other metals present) genuine faith is proved by adversity or 'tested by fire'. All that is left at the end of the process is pure and undiluted gold, while faith emerges stronger. 

    so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  (1 Peter 1:7 NASB)

Therefore it is entirely possible that Peter is using the earth and heavens being burned up with fire as symbolism for a "smelting process from which the world will emerge purified". In other words, Peter's words may very well not refer to the physical destruction of the world, but to its purification. The earth will not be destroyed, but will be restored to the state it was in when God called it "good".

    It is a moral, not necessarily a physical, burning up.

    It is, admittedly, not an easy question to resolve. However, there are a number of reasons including some often overlooked prophecies not to believe that the earth will be totally obliterated

The Mount Of Olives, The Golden Gate, and The City Of Jerusalem Exist After The Seven Bowls
Remember that the 'Seven Bowls' are the culmination of God's wrath. The Tribulation (the persecution of the church), is followed by 'The Great Tribulation', which is God's wrath being poured out on the earth in the form of seven plagues. This is such a terrible time that as Jesus said, if "those days" had not been shortened, "no flesh would have been saved, but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened".

After the seventh and last Trumpet when the bodies of believers who have died and those who are still alive are all safely off the earth, God will rain down the seven bowls that will be the final death knell for the inhabitants of the earth. It is only after this that Christ and all His followers will return with Him to this earth along with the angels and the saints who have already died.

(See The Seventh Trumpet   And   The Rapture)

Everything that comes to earth - planes, meteors, parachutists etc. have to touchdown somewhere and the Lord is no exception arriving in a small town in Israel the first time around. But where will He physically make contact with the earth when He returns?

The Golden Gate faces the of Mount of Olives across the Kidron valley is located on the eastern side of Jerusalem's old city wall. It was built anywhere from the 5th to the 7th century over the ruins of a much older gate, which dated back to, about the 6th century B.C. [02] Suleiman the Magnificent, the tenth and longest-reigning 16th century Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, was a great patron of culture, and oversaw the artistic, literary and architectural development of the Ottoman Empire. We quite simply do not know why he sealed off the Golden Gate in 1541. But, whatever his reasons, it brings to mind the words of the prophet Ezekiel, who was told by the Lord that

    "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. (Ezekiel 44:2 NASB)

Suleiman had no idea he was fulfilling prophecy, and the gate remains sealed to this day, which leads to the most important aspect of the Golden Gate.

Matthew 21 tells us that, just prior to his trial and crucifixion, Jesus was in Bethphage - a village at the Mount of Olives from where He sent two disciples to get the donkey on which He would ride when He entered Jerusalem which, in all likelihood, was though the Golden Gate - the closest gate to the Mount. As He entered the crowds...

    took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, "Hosanna! (oh save) blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel."  (John 12:13 NASB)

This not only fulfilled the prophecy made in Zechariah 9:9,

    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 NASB)

but was a foreshadowing of His return. The prophet Zechariah was equally clear about the location, saying,

    In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4 NASB)

Which leads to the obvious conclusion... in the not so distant future, Christ will return to the same place He left from.... the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12) and enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate - this time as its King.

The point is that if the prophecy is to be fulfilled, the Mount of Olives, the Golden Gate and the city of Jerusalem itself have to exist when Jesus returns to earth.  Besides which, we have to consider ...

The Chronology of Revelation 20 Through 21:5
Unlike much of the book of Revelation, chapter 20 through (at least) 21:5 seem to be in chronological order, indicated by the frequent use of the word "then".

    (1)  Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2)  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (3)  and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.  (4) Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  (5) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.  (6) Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. (7)  When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, (8)  and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.  (9) And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (10) And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

    (11) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  (12)  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  (14)  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  (15)  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:1-15 NASB)

In Summary, an angel lays hold of Satan throws him into the abyss which is sealed for a thousand years (20:1-3). John then saw those who had not worshiped the beast come to life and reign with Christ for the thousand years (20:4-6). When these years are up, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations, gathering Gog and Magog from the four corners of the earth (20:7-8). These people will besiege Jerusalem, but will be consumed by fire from heaven (20:9).

John then outlines the fate of the devil, the beast, and the false prophet who are to be "thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone" (20:10), describes the great white throne at which the dead, small and great, stand before God, and are judged according to their work (20:11-13).John then tells us that death and Hades will also be "thrown into the lake of fire" (20:14).

John again prefaces the following verses with the word "then", from which we can be sure that it is only after the events described above, that John saw the new heaven and the new earth and the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven...

    (1) Then 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. (2)  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  (3)  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,  (4) and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." (5)  And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He *said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." (Revelation 21:5 NASB)

In other words, it is at this time after the millennium that Satan, death and Hades will be done away for good and there will be a 'new' earth and a new heaven.

Heaven and Earth Will Become One When...
We can be certain that God never had any intention of permanently maintaining a separate heaven somewhere 'up there' . Modern day charlatans please note that, with the exception of Paul's rather enigmatic account in his second letter to the Corinthians (12:2-4), there is NO record of anyone ever visiting or being taken up to God's throne room. And no, Elijah wasn't either.

See Did Elijah and/or Enoch Ascend to Heaven?

Genesis 3:8 tells us that God Himself walked the garden in the cool of the day in Adam and Eve's day (Genesis 3:8 NASB). Not only did He visit earth, but the Tabernacle (mishkn or "dwelling place") was built according to very specific instructions given Moses (Exodus 25:8-9, 40). When it was finished "the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:33-35).

Note the vision given to the prophet Ezekiel

    and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east... And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house. Then I heard one speaking to me from the house, while a man was standing beside me. He said to me, "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name, neither they nor their kings, by their harlotry and by the corpses of their kings when they die, (Ezekiel 43:2-7 NASB)

In the Gospel of John the Lord Jesus Christ is introduced as the Son of God who dwelt among men.

    And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)

The New Jerusalem Descends
In three separate verses, the book of Revelation tells us that the holy city Jerusalem comes down from Heaven. Katabaino, used some 80 times in the New Testament, literally means to descend. [See for example, John 6:33 and James 3:15]

    'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; 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 (Gk. katabaino) out of heaven from My God, and My new name. [Revelation 3:11-12 NASB)

    And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down (Gk. katabaino) out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them [Revelation 21:2-3 NASB)

    And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down (Gk. katabaino) out of heaven from God, [Revelation 21:10 NASB)

It is from this New Jerusalem that God will rule and rejoice.

    "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness. "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. [Isaiah 65:17-19 NASB)

    "Thus says the Lord, 'I will return (Heb. shb) to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.... and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.... 'So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.' [Zechariah 8:3, 8, 22 NASB)

As said by Randy Alcorn, founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

    "... it seems clear to me that if God's special dwelling place is by definition Heaven, and we're told that "the dwelling of God" will be with mankind on Earth, then Heaven and the New Earth will be essentially the same place. We're told that "the throne of God and of the Lamb" is in the New Jerusalem, which is brought down to the New Earth (Revelation 22:1). Again, it seems clear that wherever God dwells with his people and sits on his throne would be called Heaven. [02]

Incidentally, it is sometimes claimed that the New Jerusalem will not actually land on earth, but will remain suspended in the air. This stems from the idea that Heaven and Earth must always be separate... one being holy, and the other far from it.  However, when John watches the city "coming down" from Heaven, there is nothing that indicates it stops before actually touching down.

The earth is presently a sinful place thus cannot in any way be joined with Heaven. However, the new earth occupied only by the resurrected bodies of the redeemed, will be a blessed place.

As said before, the heart of Jesus' preaching was the good news of the kingdom of God. Not only did Jesus define his purpose as being the announcement of the kingdom (Luke 4:43), but He spoke continuously about the kingdom. Additionally, many of Jesus' parables emphasized the importance of this kingdom. He likened it to a mustard seed which grows into a large tree, a treasure, a merchant looking for pearls, and a king who gave a banquet (Matthew 13:44-47; 22:2).  None of which should be at all surprising considering that without the kingdom there is no Gospel.

 The kingdom, defined as God's authority and rule, has already been established on earth in the hearts of men. It arrived with Jesus' preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom and secured itself within the disciples, who were the initial 'subjects' of the kingdom. It made huge strides among the Jewish community at Pentecost, then was taken to the Gentiles and spread throughout the known world. However, its final fulfillment (which is around the corner), will take place when Jesus makes His glorious return to establish His physical rule on earth.

And we will have heaven at last. See The Kingdom... When?

Will Time Exist In The New Earth?
For whatever reason, all too many Christian authors and theologians maintain that time will cease to exist once this world comes to an end. In some cases time has even been connected to a "fallen world", which doesn't make a whit of sense considering that time predated sin.

Long before man ever existed God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh - Time. In fact, the fifth verse of the first book of the Bible tells us that "God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (Genesis 1:5 NASB).

In our modern world time often brings stress, especially since we are so aware of how little of it we have. In the world to come, time will not be an enemy

    The passing of time will no longer threaten us. It will bring new adventures without a sense of loss, of what must end... Time will no longer be an hourglass in which the sands of time go from a limited past to a limited future. Our future will be unlimited. We'll no longer have to "number our days" (Psalm 90:12) or redeem the time, for time won't be a diminishing resource about to end. [03]

Continue On To Part VI - that explains John's rather enigmatic statement in Revelation 21:1 - "there is no longer any sea". HERE

End Notes
[01] Steven Cole. Living in Light of That Day (2 Peter 3:10-13) Bible.org. https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-13-living-light-day-2-peter-310-13

[02] The Gates of Jerusalem Golden Gate - Sha'ar Harahamim - Gate of Mercy - Eastern Gate.

[03] Randy Alcorn. Excerpt from Randy Alcorns book "Heaven" (Tyndale House, 2004): Will there be space and time in the eternal Heaven? Chapter 26. http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Feb/3/will-there-be-space-and-time-eternal-heaven/

[04] ibid.


Heaven - The Resurrected Body

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