Articles

 

The New Heavens and the New Earth

 

       1 Isaiah writes «This is the declaration of Yahuh, the Creator of the heavens, the God who prepared and established the foundations of the Earth, and who did not found it for chaos but made it to be inhabited: “I am Yahuh and there is no other»; (Isaiah 45:18...19) «My word will be fulfilled accurately, and the word that goes out from my mouth shall not return void to Me, without having fulfilled my purpose and without what motivates it, has been achieved»; (Isaiah 55:11) «Behold, I establish new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come to the heart». (Isaiah 65:17)

 

The end of this world

 

       2 Since ancient times, God’s prophets foretold the end of this world or human society, which the rebellion of men submitted to the «evil spiritual forces that inhabit the heavenly places» (Ephesians 6:12), announcing a «Day burning like a furnace», in which «all the arrogant and all those who practice transgression will be as stubble» and «the day that shall come, will burn them... and will not leave root or branch of them» (Malachi 4:1...2)

Peter also speaks about this Day, and writes «the Day of Yahuh will come like a thief, and then, the heavens shall pass away with a roar and the elements, intensely hot, will be dissolved while the earth and everything on it, shall be consumed» (2 Peter 3:10). He compares this destruction with that suffered in Noah’s day, when he writes: «by the Word of God, in ancient times were made a heaven and an earth that emerged from the waters and was surrounded by water, and by the command of the same Word, that world of then was destroyed by the waters of the deluge. Now, by the same Word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire and for the day of the judgment and destruction of the ungodly». (2 Peter 3:5...7)

 

       3 The destruction of the world in Noah’s day, did not mean the end of the planet, which according to Scripture, was flooded and heavily shaken. This catastrophe wiped out a corrupt and violent society, but God protected Noah and his family, and eight people survived it. Much later, Paul writes: «at that time His voice shook the earth, and now promises: “One more time I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens». And when he says “one more time”, He means that the things He shakes will come to an end and will be removed». (Hebrews 12:26...27)

The foretold “shaking” of the “earth” will particularly affect the indifferent and godless humanity that inhabits on it, however, Scripture says that the planet will be restored under the kingdom of God, and inhabited by a new human society under the rule of Christ. For this reason, when Jesus taught his disciples the essential things to ask God in prayer, said first these three: «sanctified be your name; your kingdom come to us and your will be done on earth as in heaven». (Matthew 6:9...10)

 

       4 On the Book of Jesus’ revelation to John, the events to happen at the time of the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth, are reported through symbols and allegories. We read: «The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and powerful voices from heaven announced: “Now, the kingdom of the world has come to be the kingdom of our Sovereign and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever». And paying homage to God, the divine inhabitants of heaven said: «We thank you, Yahuh, God Almighty who is and was, because making use of your great power, you have established your kingdom. The nations were angered, but your indignation came, and the time to judge the dead, to reward your servants the prophets and the saints, and the humble and the powerful who show respect for your name, and of destroying all those who destroy the earth»(Revelation 11:1518). Jesus followers must have faith in this promise of God, as did Peter, who declared: «according to His promise, we are expecting new heavens and a new earth which hosts justice». (2 Peter 3:13) And also Paul refers to this new earth, when he writes that «He (God) does not submit to angels the future inhabited earth of which we speak» (Hebrews 2:5), but to a «son, whom he appointed forevermore, the heir of the universe that was created for him» (Hebrews 1:2), and states that Christ, «after having offered himself once, to abolish forever the sins of many, will manifest himself for a second time, not because of sin, but for those who wait for him to be saved». (Hebrews 9:28)

 

       5 One day, «when Jesus left the temple and was going away, his disciples approached and pointed out to him the buildings of the temple. But  Jesus told them: “Do you see all this? Indeed I say to you, there will not be left here stone upon stone, which is not thrown down”»; and later, «in the mount of olives, the disciples came to him privately and said: “Tell us, when will these things be? and which will be the sign of your presence and of the end of the world?» (Matthew 24:3)

Jesus spoke to them about the destruction of Jerusalem, and said that many would die within its walls, and that his followers would be mistreated because of his name (Luke 21:20), and speaking of his return, he foretold the signs that should precede it, and warned those who would be waiting for him, with these words: «Be watchful that you be not deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Anointed!” and deceive many. You will hear battles around you, and you will also hear reports of wars. See not to be alarmed; it is necessary that all these things take place, but it is not yet the end”». (Matthew 24:46)

 

       6 Then, Jesus said: «Ethnicity will be raised upon ethnicity and kingdom upon kingdom, and there will be major natural disasters, (the Greek word “sismoi” is not only applied to earthquakes, but also to all kinds of natural disasters) and in several places, epidemics and famine, and there will be fearful phenomena, and also in heaven, extraordinary phenomena», (Luke 21:10...11) «at that time there will be signs in the sun, the  moon and the stars, and distress in the nations of the earth, because of the roaring and tossing of the sea, (the Greek word “thalassa” describes the sea swell, and Scripture applies it to crowds in commotion. See Isaiah 17: 1213 and 57:20, and Revelation 17:15) while men faint by the fear at the prospect of what comes upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And at that time, they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud, (like the apostles saw him ascend to the heavens) with power and great glorywhen these things start to happen, stand up and lift up your head, because your deliverance is near». (Luke 21:25...28) And declared: «the heavens and the earth shall pass away, but my words remain». (Luke 21:33)

 

       7 Looking towards the town, Jesus had said: «Jerusalem, Jerusalem! That which kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children, as a bird gathers her brood under her wings! But you were not willing. Behold, your house is forsaken to you. I say to you that you will not see me again until my return, when you may say: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of God!”» (Luke 13:34...35) The Jerusalem destroyed in 70 AD, had rejected and killed God's anointed. The town and the people ceased then to be the special property of God on earth, and were replaced by all those who, because of their faith in God’s Christ, were considered as Abraham’s genuine spiritual offspring. In fact, the Covenant of the Law, the ritual sacrifices, the Temple and the town, had already supplied the prophetic picture intended to lead the people to the arrival of the promised Messiah, who by virtue of his sacrifice, became the mediator of a New Covenant between God and men, a pact of life that took effect when «Christ, as the high priest of the good things to come» entered «once and forever into the Holy of the greatest and perfect Tabernacle, which was not built by human hands, so, which does not belong to this creation, taking with him, not the blood of goat bucks and young bulls, but his own, in order to procure us an eternal redemption». (Hebrews 9:11...12)

 

       8 In 70 AD, many disciples saw the fulfillment of Jesus words about the siege and fall of Jerusalem and of the destruction of its Temple, which put an end to the ceremonial and the sacrifices required by the Law. However, his prediction went much further in time, and none of them could live to see the signs of his return and the end of this world. Jesus had foretold them, so that the disciples who would remain attentive to his words at the established time, might understand the proximity of their hope. For them, he said: «When you see these things happening, discern that the kingdom of God is near. Indeed, I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things are fulfilled». (Luke 21:332) And urging them to remain vigilant, he warned: «Keep watch, that your hearts be not loaded with eating and drinking, and with the anxieties of this life, and the day comes upon you suddenly, because it will come over all those who inhabit the entire face of the Earth, as a trap. So be watchful at all times, praying that you may be found worthy of escaping all the things that must come, and stand up before the Son of Man». (Luke 21:34...36)

 

The new earth

 

       9 Jesus had told the multitude: «Blessed are the meek for they will possess the earth in heritage», (Matthew 5:5)

Some seven hundred years before, prophet Isaiah wrote: «Yahuh declares: Behold! I will create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be mentioned or will come to mind. And those I create shall bring rejoice and joy forever, because I will make Jerusalem (the government of Christ) rejoice, and its people (the population of the earth) joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be joyful for my people, and among them will never be heard weeping and wailing». (Isaiah 65:1719) On that day, people «will build houses and dwell in them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They will not build and others inhabit it, or will plant and others eat it, for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and my chosen shall enjoy for long the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain nor bring forth for trouble, because they are the seed of those blessed by Yahuh, and with them also their descendants. And it shall be that before they ask, I will answer them, and while they are still speaking,  I shall already have paid attention to them». (Isaiah 65:2124)

 

       10 This Jerusalem that God calls “rejoicingis not an earthly town, but that which Christian Scriptures calls the “New Jerusalem”; for this reason and in harmony with the prophecy of Isaiah, John writes: «I saw a new heaven and a new earth, because the former heaven and the former earth disappeared, and the sea (the turbulent mankind ) is no longer. And I saw how God made come down from heaven the holy city, the New Jerusalem, adorned as a bride for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “The Temple of God is with mankind, and shall stay beside it because they will be His people, and God himself will intervene on their behalf and wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, because the former things have come to an end”. And He who sits on the throne said, “Look! I make all things new” and went on: “Write, for these words are trustworthy and true». (Revelation 21:25)

 

       11 While John perceived in his vision the events of the Great Day of Yahuh, heard some voices that announced: «The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Sovereign and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever». (Revelation 11:15)

This words mean that Jesus will reign over «the new inhabited earth»,(Hebrews 2:5) preached by the apostles. In that day, «from Zion shall go forth the Law and from Jerusalem (the New Jerusalem), the word of Yahuh. And He shall judge among nations and will correct many people, and they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be trained again for war». (Isaiah 2:3...4) God shall then «extinguish death forever. He will wipe the tears from all faces, and remove from the Earth the grief of his people». (Isaiah 25:8)

 

The new heavens

 

       12 Paul writes that in a vision, he was once transported to the “third heaven”. (2Corinthians 12:2) Now, in Scripture, the first heaven is understood to be the atmosphere surrounding our planet, the second, is the vast universe of our physical dimension, and the third heaven represents the place of God's presence.

Besides, since all the heavens are above humanity, this term is also used to express supremacy or government. So, the New Heavens stand for Christ's government, whose composition and functions are illustrated by allegories and symbolisms, for as Paul says, there are things that cannot be expressed «in a language suggested by human knowledge, but with that taught to us by the Spirit, to express spiritual things in spiritual terms». (1Corinthians 2:11...13)

 

       13 God declared through Isaiah: «Your people, all of the justified, shall inherit forever the earth, the sprout of my planting and the work of my hands to manifest my glory. The tiny will become a thousand, and the small one will become a great people, because at that time, I, Yahuh, will work swiftly». (Isaiah 60:21...22)

Even if this prophecy had a representative fulfilling when Jerusalem was rebuilt and restored on the period between Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, its final and full implementation will come when God establishes His kingdom on Earth.

On the Book of Revelation we read that John heard a “new song” honoring the Lamb of God, which said: «Worthy are you of receiving the scroll and open the seals, because you were slain and with your blood, ransomed for God people from every tribe, language, people and nation, making them kings and priests of our God, to reign over the earth». (Revelation 5:9...10) John saw also all the justified who belonged to the government of Christ, and writes: «I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him, one hundred and forty-four thousand who had their own name and the name of their Father, written on their foreheads». (Revelation 14:1), «They are those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and have been acquired from mankind to be the first fruits to God and to the Lamb». (Revelation 14:4)

 

       14 The people in this crowd were not only Jews, as were the apostles and the first disciples, for they came from all the earth, and symbolically represented the twelve tribes of Israel. They are all those who have joined the death of Jesus through baptism in his name, and because of their faith in God’s purpose, are considered by Him as the genuine offspring of Abraham, participating with him in this promise: «I will favor you, I will bless you and I will increase  you; I will multiply your progeny, which will be as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the sea shore (that cannot be counted)... and all the nations on earth will be blessed through your progeny, because you have listened to my words». (Genesis 22:17...18)

Paul explains, «the promise was made to Abraham and to his progeny; it does not speak of his progenies, as referring many, but speaking of only one, it says: “your progeny”, which is Christ... and because of the faith in Jesus Christ, all of you are now children of God, and all of you, who have been baptized into Christ, are part of the Christ. Therefore, there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman; all of you are one with Christ. And according to the promise, if you belong to Christ, you are also heirs and descendants of Abraham». (Galatians 3:16, 26... 29)

 

       15 In harmony with these words, Paul says: «In fact, circumcision or uncircumcision is nothing, what matters is a new creation. Let there be peace and mercy upon the Israel of God, and upon all those who walk by these principles». (Galatians 6:15...16) And really, the Israel of God, made up by the progeny that integrates the body of Christ, is a new creation, for it came to existence on Pentecost day.

Peter portrays it as «a chosen progeny, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people God acquired for Himself», (1Peter 2:9) and writes: «Now that you understand how generous is the Lord (Jesus), turn yourselves to him, the “living stonerejected by men but chosen and precious to God, so that you may be also built like living stones, to construct a spiritual house (or temple), a holy priesthood to offer God through Jesus Christ, gratifying spiritual sacrifices». (1Peter 2:3...5)

These living stones supported by the cornerstone, which is Christ, are those that God «calls according to His purpose... and that from the beginning, He recognized and designated to be modeled in the likeness of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn of many brothers». (Romans 8:28...29)

 

The New Jerusalem or Israel of God

 

       16 Each one of the designated by God, belongs to the body of Christ,  who is their head. Among them «there is no Jew and no Greek, no circumcised and no uncircumcised... there is only a unity in Christ», (Colossians 3:11) the unity of thought, purpose and objectives, shared by those who are part of the New Jerusalem, «the holy city that God brings down from heaven», (Revelation 21:9...11) and «does not need sunlight or moonlight, being illuminated by the glory of God through its lamp, which is the Lamb. The nations shall walk guided by its light, and the kings of the earth shall yield to it their glory... Nothing unclean and no one abominable or liar shall enter it, only those recorded in the book of life of the Lamb». (Revelation 21:23...27)

The call they receive comes from Yahuh himself, as in apostolic times, so it «does not depend on who wants or on who proposes, but on God's mercy». (Romans 9:16)

Recalling the faith of the prophets and of the men of old, Paul writes that some of them «were stoned, mowed into pieces, tortured, or killed by the sword», while others «roved, wandering in skins of sheep and goat, deprived of all things, in afflictions and ill-treatments, because the world was not worthy of them! However, even if all of them received such a good testimony of their faith, they could not reach the promises because God had prearranged for us (Christ’s body) something better, so that they would not reach perfection without us». (Hebrews 11:37...40)

And this means that before so many faithful servants of God could obtain the promise of a resurrection to a life without death, on the promised earth of peace and justice, Christ’s administration must be established.

 

       17 The declarations of the ancient prophets, of the apostles, and of disciples of Jesus, through the centuries reveal by means of allegories or symbolic images, God's purpose for humanity. Paul declares that their words are part of the «sacred secret kept hidden since remote times, and now made known through the prophetic Scriptures, so that by mandate of the Eternal God, the obedience to the faith is made known among all the nations». (Romans 16:26)

Some few years after the death of the apostles and the first disciples, the Good News and the apostolic letters underwent minor tweaks and deliberate interpolations, which contrast the revealed doctrine, twisting its meaning to support some ideas that were later added in it as dogmas. Nowadays most of these alterations are well known, but are not removed from the text, since they receive credit as tradition of the Church.

In spite of this, we must have in mind that the canonical Scriptures transmit one same message and are in perfect harmony from the Genesis to the Revelation, constituting the only reliable  source of the faith for the disciples of Christ. Their teaching should be well known, and be imparted and defended without fear, for even if as Paul says, «these things are absurd for those who are to perish...» because «by means of its own philosophy, the world has not come to know God, He, in his wisdom, judged appropriate to save those who believe through something considered absurd: the things that we proclaim. And while the Jews demand evidence, and the Greeks are after philosophy, we proclaim Christ's sacrifice, which for the Jews is a stumbling block and for the nations, an absurdity. However, for those who have been called, whether Jews or Greeks (whether Israelites or people from other nations), Christ is the divine power and the divine wisdom. What is simple for God, is beyond human wisdom, and what is light for God, is beyond human power». (1Corinthians 1:18...25)

 

       18 However, Paul alerts the disciples: «I want to remind you, brothers, that the good news I announced to you, that which you have heard, and in which you persist, will permit you to be saved if you stay in it just as I declared it to you, otherwise you would have believed in vain!» (1Corintios 15:1...2) Let us then strive to «remember accurately the words of the holy prophets, and the instructions that the Lord and Savior transmitted to us through the apostles» (2 Peter 3:2), «while we wait for the  Day of Yahuh, in full confidence that, "in harmony with its multifaceted wisdom, God carries out his secular purpose through our Lord Jesus Christ» (Ephesians 3:10...11).