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Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 21

The Apostle John writes that he saw “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…” (v.1). The implication is that the heavens are remade by God or, at least, the surface of the earth is refurbished, because is it is described as “new.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

As I wrote in our Revelation 19 study, I believe some of this is symbolic language. Of course some is literal but we need to understand which. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? The word ‘earth’ in 2 Peter 3:10 means the earthlings. The people are judged according to their works. The ‘elements’ are the ‘fundamental principles’ by which the world has been governed by man. The Greek word translated ‘elements’ is στοιχεῖον (stoicheion), which is related to ‘something orderly in arrangement.’ But all order and government is changed at Christ’s return, which is followed by the new heaven and new earth. The old heavens, both spiritual heavens and the physical environment of the earth are changed. They are restored to the state of creation before Adam’s sin.

The earth is to undergo a purification and a renewal to make it fit for the home of the saints in glory. The old state of things shall be succeeded by a new order, both physical and moral. (This also strengthens the argument that the resurrected saints are not again to be found physically on earth until the earth is purified and prepared for them, which is after the millennium.)

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astronomy Belief in God Decay of society God's sovereignty hermeneutics

When I consider thy heavens

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.  … 3. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;  Psalms 8:1,3

These verses really struck me as significant as I read them this morning. Let’s look at these two verses carefully.

O YHWH (יְהוֹוָה Yhovah) our Lord (אָדוֹן ‘adown meaning ‘sovereign’)  who (meaning God Himself) hast set thy (your, singular) glory above the heavens. Psalms 8:1

God has set his own glory above that of the created heavens. And those heavens are a wonder to behold. Just look at some of the beautiful pictures of the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day. Here I illustrate this (Fig. 1) with their July 30, 2014 picture of the Andromeda galaxy.

m31_bers_960
Figure 1: M31: The Andromeda Galaxy.  Image Credit & Copyright: Jacob Bers (Bersonic)

Our own galaxy would look very similar to this one. With modern large telescopes we see a universe full of maybe 100 billion galaxies, many of which look like this one. But God’s glory is way above all of this.

When I consider thy (your, singular) heavens, the work of thy fingers ( אֶצבַּע ‘etsba` meaning ‘something to seize with’ but God does not have nor need real fingers, so it is figurative), the moon and the stars (and the latter must include the sun, which was not known by Earth astronomers to be a star until millenia later), which thou (you, singular) hast ordained (כּוּן kuwn meaning to ‘be erect’, stand perpendicular hence causatively to ‘set up’, literally to ‘establish’ or figuratively to ‘appoint’); Psalms 8:3