Yesterday in conversation with a friend, he mentioned he had been studying in Revelation. Chapter 21:1 reads: 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. His assumption from that text is that those who are saved would live in that "new earth". Is this too literal an assumption?
Revelation is such a mystery to me. There
is so much there and each time I read I see things I didn't see before.
Admittedly, I really don't grasp a great deal of the meaning or sequence
You have hit upon a passage that has been capitalized on by a few cults. And, while I have some private thoughts regarding this Scripture, I choose to answer you from the common scholarship of greater men than myself.
In 2Peter 3:13 has some things to say upon the matter that are worthwhile. The passage reads:
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
The promise to which it is supposed the Apostle alludes is found Isaiah 65:17:
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
And then there is the passage in Isaiah 66:22:
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.
It does appear that these promises and others indicate that the present world, though destined to be burned up will not be destroyed, but will be purged and renewed.
Adam Clarke remarked concerning the Revelation passage that the ancient Jews believed that God would renew the heavens and the earth at the end of seven thousand years
For me the reference to what happens to the sea seems to very much be in line to what I understand to be the case concerning water distribution prior to the great flood which I believe took place about four thousand years ago.
Lehman Strauss correctly places the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation in the postmillennial progression of events. He says:
Satan and his wicked angels have been judged, and they, along with all of the wicked of the human race, have been cast into the lake of fire. The bitter conflict between good and evil is past. John is now given a vision of the eternal state. From here on all is new.
I want you to notice that John gives no details as to how or to what extent this all takes place. He simply states that the first heaven and the first earth are passed away. We must rely on the rest of biblical teaching for any details we might glean. This means that the admonition to rightly divide the Word of Truth is very important in this situation. I would also caution the reader to not add to the Scripture any conclusion or speculation above what the Word of God expressly says.
Concerning the reference to the heaven that passes away, what we do know is that both the Bible and science agree on three heavens. You have the atmospheric heaven surrounding the earth, where the fowl of the air soar; then you have the planetary or stellar heavens where the sun, moon, and stars are, and that is quite a large place; finally, there is the Heaven of heavens, the abode of God. This latter heaven is the place where the saints go at death. Paul spoke of it this way:
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell: or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2Corinthians 12: 2 thru 4)
Your question is actually addressed somewhat in the following verses of this chapter of Revelation:
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 there God. (Revelation 21: 2-3)
There are some who have taught that the new Jerusalem is not a literal city but merely a symbol teaching us about the eternal relationship of the church. I consider this pure poppycock that was developed to further their own ends not to correctly exegete the Word of God which presents these things as literal reality. It might well be the manifestation of the home the Lord Jesus Christ said He would be preparing for us while in heaven. It was intended that this home would be where He was, so that would seem that while the preparation or construction took place in Heaven, the establishment of those mansions would be on the new earth. Try as I might, I can find no contradiction with what the Scripture teaches in this regard, but more importantly such an interpretation is consistent with what the Word of God teaches. Unfortunately some cults have concentrated upon this, and the church has virtually ignored it, causing not a few to stumble.
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