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Cosmology God's sovereignty hermeneutics

The coming new heaven and new earth

A study on 2 Peter 3 verses 10 – 18

This is the final part of a 3 part study. Part I and Part II are found here. I ended the last study of this chapter (in part II) with verse 10.

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.

It is worth repeating here that I do not believe that the phrase “the heavens shall pass away” describes the destruction of the starry heavens (all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos), but instead, at most, it describes a renovation of the earth and its atmospheric heavens, at the time Christ returns in judgment and to govern the earth. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? and Scientific evidences in the Bible: Information or misinformation?

It seems to be the eschatological position of many biblical creationists that this verse means the destruction of the entire known Universe and that all the heavenly bodies will all be burned up in the final judgment. Then God will re-create an entirely new universe. However the destruction of the starry heavens I argue (as put here) is not necessarily required by the texts. Certainly a new heaven and new earth must mean God re-creates the environment of Earth and brings His heavenly city into the picture, providing real physical heavenly mansions for us all who believe. But that re-creation need not extend beyond our solar system. This is further evidenced by the idea that the Universe may be, in fact, eternal. God introduces His sustaining power to maintain it forever. Thus is not the result of an eternal big bang universe that had no Creator, not the result of the quantum fluctuation of a meta-stable false vacuum, but an eternal Universe sustained by the Creator Himself. So at some stage God reverses entropic decay in the Universe and maintains it forever.

The concept of literal restoration of the perfect creation on Earth and its environment is not incompatible with the biblical creationist message that is illustrated in the figure above. God initially literally created a perfect physical world/universe sustained by His power. But at Adam’s sin God cursed the creation bringing about various difficulties (to say the least) upon mankind and all living species on the planet. The greatest of these difficulties was death, spiritual death followed by physical death.

The death of humans and all living sentient beings has little bearing on the “life cycle” of stars and galaxies, which are little more than an arrangement of hot gases. So it is ill-advised to speak of the death of stars resulting from the Curse. Thus to suggest that supernovae only occurred post-Fall is grossly in error. They are the result of normal operational physics and I believe have little bearing on, or relation to, man’s actions. Whereas the Fall was the direct result of a man’s action to disobey the Living God. As a result we all inherited Adam’s sin. And thus we are in need of a Saviour.

The Universe though is a creation of God, for His own glory (Psalm 19:1). We have evidence in the scriptures supporting the idea that God will maintain the Universe (the Sun, moon and stars) forever. Psalms 148:3-6 and 89:37. 

Categories
Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 22

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The chapter opens with a description of the river of life that proceeds or flows from the throne of God inside the city where Christ is on the throne (v.1). On either side of the river was the tree of life (v.2). This is the same tree that was in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:9  And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is river pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

There also was a river that ran out from Eden.

Genesis 2:10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was parted, and became into four heads.

The correspondence is very strong. You can see the connection between the paradise of the initial creation and the paradise of the final heaven on earth.

I believe also that the tree of life is symbolic of Jesus Christ, who is the source of life to all who believe. “In Him was life” (John 1:4).

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise.

Christ is the fruit of the righteous, as only God is righteous. In Christ is the only way we can be fruitful to win souls. The Lord also says:

Categories
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.)

Categories
Biblical doctrines Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they?

What you believe of bible prophecy (eschatology1 in particular) affects how you interpret some passages in the scriptures. I have been often told that the universe is decaying away, which according to standard physics, one should believe. Then there are those who teach about future apocalyptic events and that God will destroy the entire universe and make a new one.

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Figure 1: The planet Alderaan destroyed by the Death Star’s laser weapon. Screen capture from George Lucas’s “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”. Initial theatrical release was May 25, 1977 © 1997 Lucasfilm Ltd. Credit: © 1997 Lucasfilm / Courtesy Pyxurz.

Read,

Revelation 21:1 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.

Some cite verses such as the following:

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be dissolved in the fire, and the earth and its works will not be found.

Revelation 6:14  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

Isaiah 34:4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.