Saturday, July 21, 2012

New heavens and a new earth.

ISAIAH 65:17-19 "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 a 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 th...e voice of crying.

I was asked to do some articles on the “heaven and earth.” What does all this mean? There are many misconceptions about the new heavens and new earth mentioned in the Bible. This quotation from Isaiah must be taken in its context. The use of the words heavens and earth as will as the new Jerusalem are often used figuratively and metaphorically in scripture.

The context of Isaiah’s prophecy is the coming new covenant. Notice within this context the Lord speaks of creating a new heaven and a new earth along with creating a new Jerusalem. The new heaven and new earth are synonymous, with creating the new Jerusalem. In other words one cannot be fulfilled or created without the other. Returning to Isaiah 65: 17-19 there is a clear statement of the location of this new heavens and earth. The new Jerusalem is clearly the location.

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, (I create Jerusalem) a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. (Isaiah 65; 17-19)

During the time that Isaiah lived, over 2,700 years ago, he lived in a world of rebellion against God and evil was everywhere. There we two sons fleshly Israel and spiritual Israel living in one house hold.

The older brother fleshly Israel from Jerusalem below was persecuting the younger brother from Jerusalem which is above. Galatians 4:22-29 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, (as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now) emphasis added.

The promise of the new heavens and earth which occurs in Isaiah, where the prophet uses it to describe the happy circumstance of Gods people after the time of tribulation and persecution is past, and their enemies are destroyed and removed. Paul relates to this time in Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of Yahweh's fury being poured out. `For behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and rebuke with flames of fire.' (Isaiah 66:15)

The Lord will then use `fire' and the 'sword' to plead with all flesh and there will be many slain. We have here a major conflict against the nations, which are subdued. There is not a complete annihilation of the people, as the chapter goes on to show that there will be worship established in Jerusalem.

Isaiah 66 deals extensively with the process by which Jerusalem blow would be changed. As we follow the words of the prophet through this chapter, the destiny of Israel is revealed. Out of tribulation, oppression and conflict, a new Jerusalem will rise again.

'And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto Yahweh out of all nations... to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith Yahweh, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of Yahweh.' (Isaiah. 66:20)

It is here that the prophet refers to the new heavens and the new earth in Isaiah 66:22. 'For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith Yahweh, so shall your seed and your name remain. From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith Yahweh.' Note here that there is a reference to all 'flesh', which suggests that Jews and gentiles in this time of glory in a mortal state.

Isaiah speaks here of the new heavens and new earth and Jerusalem and how they will not even remember the pain and suffering they endured in this lifetime under the old Jerusalem. With their eyes focused on what is to come, under the new covenant it was also an encouragement for Isaiah to continue spreading God’s message of the coming Messiah and His glorious kingdom to come.

The new heavens and earth and Jerusalem describe the changed circumstances of Gods people, in which the former troubles were now forgotten. Whereas they had been under oppression and persecution by their fellow countrymen in the Jerusalem below who refused to heed Gods word, they would see happier times.

The Jerusalem that had suffered siege and famine and weeping would give way to a new Jerusalem that enjoyed an abundance of God’s peace. The new heavens and earth as portrayed by the prophet Isaiah. John also writes about the new heaven and earth in the book of Revelation. He does not change what Isaiah wrote, but adds a few particulars of his own.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation. 21:1-3)

With the defeat of their enemies, John sees the new heaven and earth and new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. It is distinguished from the first heaven and earth only by the absence of the sea.

The absence of the sea points to the fact that all men approach God on equal terms. Seas are natural barriers, separating earths people. The Psalmist also makes a distinction between the sea versus those upon the earth: Psalms 65:5 By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea:

It is interesting here how the Psalmist describes those upon the sea as "afar off." That is how Paul describes the Gentiles in Ephesians But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. (Ephesians. 2:13, 19)

In Revelation, the sea symbolized the Gentiles; and the earth or land, the Jews are under the new economy, those distinctions are removed and all men have access to God equally. The gates of the city (church) are always open in every direction of the compass, showing that men from all over the world are invited to enter and find salvation and communion with God. (Revelation 21:13, 25)

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