“For behold, I create NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH; and the former (old heavens and old earth) shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17).
“For as THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain (true Jews in Christ).” (Isaiah 66:22).
“Now I saw a NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” (Rev. 21:1).
Apostle Peter told those first century Jewish Christians to whom he was writing that they were to be mindful of the words spoken by the holy prophets (i.e. Isaiah above) and the commandments of the apostles of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:1-2).
There was urgency and expectancy by those first century saints that dramatic changes were coming soon. These would affect the way God would be dealing with His people from then on. The Old Heavens and Old Earth cosmological order and old Jewish religious system was to pass away and the NEW COVENANT “reunited” eternal spiritual Kingdom (both unseen and seen realms) was to be fully consummated through the blood of Christ forever (Eph. 1:10).
These changes in the “HEAVENS & EARTH” were to occur soon in their generation. Peter told the first century saints that the day of the Lord was coming like a thief in the night, in which the HEAVENS would be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements would melt with fervent heat; both the EARTH and the works in it would be burned up (2 Pet. 3:10).
Peter said: “Nevertheless, WE (first century saints),according to His promise, look for NEW HEAVENS and a NEW EARTH in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet.3:13). He was talking about the New Covenant “reunited” eternal spiritual Kingdom (both unseen and seen realms) that Christ would fully establish after the destruction of the old heavens and the old earth cosmological order structure on animal sacrifice, epitomized in Old Covenant Judaism, in AD 70.
This creation of “a new heaven and a new earth” is not the creation of a new planet with a new sun, moon and stars, as many materialistic sects would have us believe. What John sees is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies which described the New Testament order as a new heaven and a new earth. The expression denotes a change in the spiritual and heavenly order of things (cosmological change). The old cosmological heaven and earth since the time of Adam was instituted by God in the garden through animal sacrifice (Gen. 3:21) (typological of the true sacrifice who was to come – Christ), and was codified and ratified into an Old Covenant through Israel at Mount Sinai (Deut. 5:1-22; Isa. 51:15-16). Isaiah’s new heaven and earth was preceded by his portrayal of ancient Jerusalem’s destruction and followed by the creation of a new and different Jerusalem (Isa. 65:15-66:24).
Observe the essentials of the change in the cosmological spiritual order. The Old Testament order of worship (Deut.6:1-25) consisted of service to God, Elohim (v.4), by fleshly Israel (v.3; cf.5:1-5), through the Law of Moses (vs.1-2; cf. 5:1-5); the temple service being performed at first in the tabernacle and finally in Jerusalem (Deut.12:1-4). This order of service prevailed for 1,500 years under Israel’s the Old Covenant until Jesus by His death on the cross changed things cosmologically by fulfilling the requirements of the Law.
Under the new cosmological order service is directed to God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (Matt.28:19-20; Acts 2) by spiritual (True) Israel (Rom.9:6-11; Gal.3:26-29; 6:15-16; 1 Pet.2:1-10), under the law of Christ (John 1:17; 1 Cor.9:21; Gal.6:2). The temple service is performed in the visible part of the eternal new Jerusalem on earth by all true believers who are now priests in the church of Christ (Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 21:2-4, 22; 1 Cor.3:16; Eph.2:19-22; Heb.8:1-6; 1 Pet.2:5). The spiritual service performed by Christians under the law of Christ is so new and different that it is a new creation –> a “new heaven and a new earth” (complete cosmological change in the relationship between the seen earthly and unseen heavenly realms of the One Eternal Kingdom).
The only people now in the new Kingdom are His fully redeemed believers, called Christians (believing Jews and believing Gentiles). They all (past & future) have had their salvation fully consummated at Christ’s second coming Parousia in AD 66-70. They are all spiritually in the body of Christ by faith. The Holy Spirit permanently indwells each and every believer. There is therefore no unrighteousness in the New Covenant “reunited” eternal spiritual Kingdom (both unseen and seen realms). The above scripture verses given by the holy Prophet and the apostles have been fulfilled.
The NEW HEAVENS and NEW EARTH, not only involve changes in covenants and the identity of God’s people; but also involve organizational changes in the UNSEEN realm. Post AD 70 there have been permanent cosmological changes in the UNSEEN realm, including the spiritual world of angels and demons.
- Both the seen and unseen realm of the original created perfect “Heavens and Earth” were affected at the fall, and an animal had to be sacrificed that day in the garden (performed by the Lord Himself – Gen. 3:21) and the arrangement and functioning of both the seen and unseen realms of that “Heavens and Earth” altered and then centered on the sacrificial system (as the way a Holy God could continue to deal with sinful mankind).
- However, God “promised” Adam/Eve about the Seed (Christ) to come (Gen. 3:15).
- Later God then took a man Abram out of the fallen/separated nations to build into a people for His portion – the nation of Israel (Deut. 32:8-9), in whom He established that “promise” in the eternal forever covenant to Abram (Gen. 12:3, 15:5-17).
- 430 years later God then constituted a Theocratic conditional covenant of blessings and curses through Moses at Mt. Sinai with the physical nation of Israel (Deut. 28:1-68), with the ultimate goal being through which the “promised” Seed (Christ) covenanted by God to Abraham would come (Gal. 3:7-8, 17, 24-29).
The Seed (Christ) was to come and establish the new and eternal covenant through His blood, and this would alter and reconstitute the “old Heaven and Earth” (seen and unseen realms) and make a “new Heaven and Earth” arrangement/administration (oikonomia) or Kingdom world order (kosmos), which superseded the old Heaven and Earth world order and is now centered on the finished and perfect sacrifice of His son (Heb. 9:26, 10:12).
This forever changed the way man and God had relationship, how heaven met earth:
- –> no longer in the earthly Old Covenant temple Holy of holies by an earthly priest mediator (Heb. 9:6-7).
- –> now through the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (Luke 22:20).
- –> His glory is no longer behind a veil in an earthly physical temple, but is now to all generations, forever and ever in the church (Eph. 3:21, 2:19-22; 2 Cor. 6:16; Ezek. 37:26-28)
- –> All believers are all now priests (Rev. 1:6, 5:10; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9), and able to be in the presence of God through the access made sure by the one true and final mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5).
His Kingdom is a new arrangement of the universe, both in the unseen realm of heaven and in the seen realm on earth. The invisible realities of His Kingdom emanates in the unseen realm from heaven, and manifests itself on earth through the visible Church. The New Heavens and Earth is a new government (Kingdom) and new world order of things both in the SEEN and UNSEEN realms, based on the redemptive work of Christ.
Earthly realm aspect:
The earthly Kingdom’s realm existence is in the church. Christians have free unhindered entrance into the earthly aspects of the Kingdom city, God dwells with us, we are blessed with His Holy Spirit living with and guiding us. No “unsaved” person can truly enter the body of Christ in the earthly church.
Heavenly realm aspect:
The New Jerusalem is in the heavenly unseen realm where God dwells. The Tree of Life is in this heavenly city. Those outside the heavenly city are their because of their wickedness and spiritual uncleanness and will never be allowed to enter (they are barred forever into another realm of the Lake of Fire). But the righteous will freely enter the heavenly city with no opposition from the gatekeepers (also see Rev. 21:12, 27).
(See eschatology Study Series 16 Lesson 9 and 10 for more on the “dual aspect” of the “one” Kingdom)
Important to also understand is that the complete fulfilling of the smallest letter or stroke of the law and prophets spoken of in Matt 5:17-18 necessitated the judgment in the unseen realm commencing at the cross (Col. 2:14-15), as well as the seen realm removal of the adulterous/harlot physical 12 tribes of Israel as God’s Old Covenant wife (Hos. 1-2; Jer. 3:1-9, Ezek. 16 & 23) to prepare for the New Covenant bride (Church) full consummation of all things which happened at Christ’s Parousia (Presence/Return) in AD 70 (Luke 21:20-22).
The Bible writes about this transition process from the initiation of the New Covenant Kingdom at the cross/resurrection of Christ in AD 30 until the final full consummation with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 (This was the period of time inferred in Heb. 8:13 à 40 years – one generation). In AD 62 Col. 2:16-17 speaks of the Torah Sabbaths and ceremonies as “still” being a shadow in the 1st century, and the substance in Christ was spoken of as future, but “about to” come. We are shown this transition process to consummation in Hebrews chapters 8 – 12, where the writer was specifically telling those 1st century Hebrew Christians when they would know all of this had happened –> in Heb. 8:13, 9:8-9 – when the obsolete symbol which epitomized that Old Covenant relationship, “the temple in Jerusalem,” was in finality destroyed. They were given the sign in the seen realm of what had happened in the unseen realm –> the removal of the old heavens and earth cosmological order and the consummating of the eternal new heavens and earth cosmological order (through the redemptive work of the blood of Christ).
(Read) In Jer. 31:31-33 God had declared that He would make a New Covenant (NC) of grace to replace the Old Covenant (OC) Jewish system, and in approximately 63 AD when Heb. 8:6-13 was written, those 1st century Christians were told that this obsolete OC to NC full transition was “about to” consummate, and in fact it was so close to completing at their time that they are promised in Heb. 10:37, “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.”
Within 7 short years from the writing of the book of Hebrews, this OC to NC transition spoken of in Hebrews 8:13 was fully consummated with the Roman armies destruction and burning of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70¸ “where not one stone was left standing upon another” (exactly how the Lord had prophesied in Matt. 24:2) – the OC heaven and earth administration/order had completely and finally “vanished away,” and the full glory of Holy God with man in the “New heaven and New earth” covenantal relationship consummated by Christ Jesus in the church to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:21) had come.
Jesus’ AD 70 “coming (Matt. 24:3 Parousia/Presence)” was “in like manner” as He said He saw the Father had done in the past in that He enacted His judgment through another nation (John 5:19, 22). His Father’s “Parousia/Presence” is found all throughout the Old Testament where the metaphoric, apocalyptic, hyperbole language used by the prophets described His coming many times. YHWY was said to have “come” in judgment on Babylon (Isa. 13:1, 6-11, 13, 17, 19), Edom (Isa. 34:3-6), Egypt (Isa. 19:1, 16, 22-23, 20:4; Ezek. 34:7-8), Assyria (Isa. 30:27-33, 31:4, 8, 37:33-36), and even when David escaped Saul (Psa. 18:1, 3-18) à in this same way Jesus said He would come bringing judgment on OC Israel, which is exactly what He did through the Roman armies in AD 70 where He poured out their “filled up” cup of wrath –> the OC Hebrew nation would be gone forever, Jerusalem destroyed, and its temple torn down with not one stone left upon another (Matt. 24:2).
In the NEW HEAVENS the UNSEEN realm is reorganized under Christ. Among other things Satan is cast down to the under realm in the Lake of Fire. The NEW EARTH involves a heavenly country of the spiritual Kingdom in the SEEN realm (Heb. l1:16). This is like the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a “spiritual” thing, yet it happens to physical beings (Christians) on earth. Also the physical realm is now governed by the spiritual principles of the New Testament with Christ forever reigning on His throne from heaven in His reunited Kingdom (seen and unseen realms).
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 3b Matt. 16:27-28 (sub study on “Heaven and Earth”)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 9 Rev. Chapter 21”]