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Particulars of Christianity:
303 Bible Cosmology


Heaven and Earth, Replaced or Restored:
Precedent Reveals Restoration (Part 1)

Cosmology: Introduction and Definitions
Part 1: The Old Testament - Buildings in Heaven
Bodies in Heaven: Angels and Spirit Bodies
Humans and Angels: How Similar are We?
Hell in the Old Testament
Part 2: From Christ's Death to His Return
Part 3: Christ's Return Through His Millennial Reign
Part 4: The Final Judgment and Eternity
Replaced or Restored: "Restarts" vs. the First Start
Replaced or Restored: Genesis 1 and Angels
Replaced or Restored: Precedent Reveals Restoration (Part 1)
Replaced or Restored: Precedent Reveals Restoration (Part 2)
Replaced or Restored: More on the Creation of Angels (Part 1)
Replaced or Restored: More on the Creation of Angels (Part 2)
Cosmology: Composite Chart
Cosmogony Illustrations



In the previous segment, we reviewed what the terms "heaven" and "earth" each denote in Genesis 1:1. This is an important first step in understanding what it included in the declaration that there will be "a new heaven and a new earth." There are 2 key questions that we need to answer about this phrase. When does it occur? And what does it refer to or include?

As we said in the beginning of this segment, the key to this study is applying a principle known as the "law of first reference." The "law of first reference" is the theory that a concept is defined the first time it appears in scripture. And we have just finished applying that principle to understand what is designated by the terms "heaven" and "earth" in Genesis 1. We will now apply that principle to the phrase "new heaven and new earth." There are 3 places that the Bible speaks of the idea of a "new heaven or heavens and a new earth." Sometimes the rendering of heaven is singular and sometimes it is plural. And, following the principle of the "law of first reference," we can trace the understanding of that concept as well, thereby allowing us to properly define the phrase "new heaven and new earth."

The terms "heaven and earth" or "heavens and earth" are coupled together numerous times throughout the Old Testament for a total of 216 occurrences. However, the first time that either term is used in conjunction with the descriptor "new" occurs in Isaiah 65. The second time that this phrase occurs is just 1 chapter later in Isaiah 66.

Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

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.

In fact, after this there are only 2 times when the phrase "new heavens and earth" appear in the Bible. The first is 2 Peter 3 and the last is Revelation 21.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

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.

With only 4 verses mentioning this concept, it should be relatively easy to decipher exactly what this phrase is designating. In particular, it should be easy to determine whether or not "new heavens and new earth" refers to a replacement with an entirely different item or simply the rejuvenation of the existing item. And, it should also be easy to determine "when" this occurs.

Following the law of first reference, we will begin with an examination of what Isaiah 65 and 66 says about this event.

Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.

It is interesting that here in Isaiah 65, this statement from God that He will create new heavens and a new earth comes before familiar descriptions regarding elongated human life spans and the lion and lamb lying down together in peace, which are associated with the Millennial reign of Christ. OOr, more specifically, it is important to note that Isaiah describes the the new heaven and earth as present during and as a part of the Millennium. This is a very significant piece of information that we learn from the law of first reference concerning the Biblical understanding of the phrase "new heavens and new earth."

The details surrounding the next mention of "the new heavens and new earth" are equally telling. Isaiah 66 includes the following statements before its reference to the "new heavens and new earth."

Isaiah 66:5 Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed…15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many…18 For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. 19 And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles…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. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

Like Isaiah 65, Isaiah 66 is filled with imagery associated with the return of Jesus Christ, which begins the millennium. Verse 5 begins with the godly being persecuted by their brothers and that these brothers think they are glorifying God by this persecution. Jesus describes this as part of the events that will precede his return in Matthew 24:9-10, Mark 13:11-13, and Luke 21:12-17. John 16:2 even mentions the detail that those who do the persecuting will think that they are serving and glorifying God. Verses 15-16 of Isaiah 66 describe the coming of the Lord to judge the earth with fire. This destruction of God's enemies with fire is associated with God gathering together all nations and tongues, who will see his glory and those who survive the destruction will be sent back to testify to the nations that they have seen God's glory. Both the persecution of the godly and the coming of the Lord to destroy with fire all nations who have gathered against him are placed before the coming of the new heavens in the text, which doesn't appear until verse 22. Then, after the mention of the new heavens and the new earth in verse 22, verse 23 immediately describes all the inhabitants of the earth coming to worship the Lord on the new moon and Sabbath festivals.

This description is identical to Zechariah 14, which also describes the day of the Lord coming first with great destruction followed by God dwelling as King in Jerusalem and all the nations coming up to worship him on the Jewish festivals.

Zechariah 14:1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle… 5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee…9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one…11 And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited…16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

Like Isaiah 66:18-19, Zechariah 14:1-3 describes the coming of the Lord in association with God gathering all nations for battle and God destroying them. Verse 5 of Zechariah 14 even states that when the Lord comes, his saints will be with him, which is identical to Paul's description of the return of the Lord Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Like Isaiah 65:25, Zechariah 14:11 speaks of there being no more destruction during the kingdom of God. Then verse 9 of Zechariah 14 declares that the Lord God will be king over the earth. And like Isaiah 66:23, Zechariah states that during this time when God is king over the earth, the nations will be required to come and worship the Lord and keep the Jewish festivals.

Zechariah is clearly placing the coming of the Lord with his saints to fight against and destroy the unbelievers as the starting point for his reign over the earth during which the nations will have to come before him and worship on the Jewish festivals and at which time there will be peace on earth, not destruction. Since the descriptions in Isaiah 65 and 66 correspond to Zechariah's description and since the descriptions in Isaiah 65 and 66 themselves place the coming of the new heavens and new earth after the coming of the Lord to destroy the nations and the earth with fire but before this time of elongated life spans, peace even between the animals, and the nations keeping the Jewish festivals, we know very clearly when the new heaven and earth will come. According to Isaiah, it would seem that the new heavens and earth will come after the return of Jesus Christ and at the beginning of or during his millennial reign.

Let's see if this holds true with the next occurrence of the phrase "new heavens and new earth." This next occurrence is in 2 Peter 3. What is so significant about this passage is that it explains how Peter himself interpreted the promise of the new heavens and new earth from Isaiah 65 and 66, which is the origin of that notion in scripture.

2 Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Peter begins this portion of his instructions by recalling what he calls "the heavens…of old." Peter goes on to build a distinction between the world before the flood, which "perished" when it was "overflowed with water" and the world as it was in his day, which existed since the flood. He continues to build this distinction in verse 7. By his use of the phrase "which are now" Peter is clearly establishing this distinction between the "world that was then" (before the flood) and the "heavens and the earth, which are now" (after the flood.)

Yet we know that despite this distinction and the intervening destruction of the "world that then was," the planet itself remained. The planet earth was not replaced by a new planet when the "world that then was…perished." Rather the surface of the planet was renewed after the flood. And Peter calls this renewal a distinctly separate "heavens and earth" from those before the flood, even though the planet itself did not cease to exist and neither did the stars or the sun, moon, or planets. This is a very significant precedent to add to our understanding of what the scripture means by "new heavens and new earth."

Lastly, we note from verse 7 that Peter establishes a parallel between the destruction of the former (pre-flood) earth by water and the destruction of the current earth by fire.

2 Peter 3:6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

These statements are important because it tells us that Peter is not just arbitrarily referring to the destruction of the "world that was then" by the flood. Peter actually believes there is a direct parallel that helps to inform our understanding of what will happen to the current earth.

And Peter continues his teaching on the matter. Having looked to the past example of the flood as a guide for interpreting Isaiah 65's "new heaven" and "new earth," Peter goes on to look to the future.

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. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

There are several items that must be noted in this passage. First, Peter says that we look for new heavens and a new earth "according to his promise." Since the first mention of the new heavens and new earth came in Isaiah 65 and 66, we know that Peter is referring to Isaiah 65 and 66, when he speaks of God's promise for a new heaven and new earth.

Second, twice in this passage, both in verse 10 and verse 12, Peter places the destruction of the current heavens and earth as occurring on the day of the Lord. This explains why Isaiah 65 placed the creation of the new heaven and new earth before the Millennial reign. And this also explains why Isaiah 66 placed the creation of the new heaven and new earth as occurring after God comes to destroy with fire. As Peter teaches it, just as the earth before the flood was destroyed by water, the current heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire and created anew when Christ Jesus returns at the start of his Millennial reign, during which, of course, the lion will lay down with the lamb, and human life spans will again be elongated as they were in early days of Genesis.

What is essential here is that at this point Peter has established a clear pattern or precedent for how to interpret the idea of a "new heavens and new earth." In the past case regarding the flood, the planet earth did not cease to exist, rather it was merely renewed or restored after the destruction by water. In the case regarding the day of the Lord, the planet will likewise continue to exist while being destroyed by fire and then renewed at the onset of the Millennium.

Of course, this tells us that there will be a total of no less than 2 (and perhaps as many as 3) "recreations" of the heavens and earth. One occurred because of the flood. The other will occur on the day of the Lord when Jesus returns at the beginning of the Millennium and the heavens and earth are destroyed by fire. And lastly, as we will see, there is mention of a recreation at the end of the Millennium, which is the "recreation" described in Revelation 21.

We will look at the mention of the new heavens and earth in Revelation 21 in just a moment. But before we get to that critical passage, it is important to note that so far, all 3 of the preceding mentions of the new heaven and new earth are in agreement concerning the timing of that event. All 3 passages, Isaiah 65, Isaiah 66, and 2 Peter 3 place the coming of the new heavens and new earth at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ when he destroys the earth with fire and establishes his kingdom, increasing human life spans, establishing peace even between the animals, and is worshipped year after year by the nations on the Jewish festivals. That means that 3 out of the 4 mentions of the new heavens and new earth in scripture place that event before the Millennial reign of Christ, not afterward at the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15.

In Revelation 20, the judgment at the Great White Throne by God the Father is clearly placed after the Millennium.

Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation 20 begins with the binding of the devil so that he cannot deceive for the entire 1,000 years during which time Jesus Christ rules with the saints. There is clearly a time marker in verse 3, denoting that the devil will not deceive the nations again until after the completion of the 1,000 years. And there is another clear time marker in verse 5, which states that the rest of the dead will not be resurrected until after the 1,000 years are finished.

Verse 7 continues by describing those events, which occur after the 1,000 years are complete.

Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Now, first we must note that these events are taking place after the Millennial reign of Christ Jesus has ended. We know this from verse 7, which states that Satan is loosed "when the thousand years are expired." The rest of the events that follow in verses 8-10 are, therefore, also after the millennial reign of Christ, including God raining down fire out of heaven on the rebels who gather with the devil. This event of God raining down fire from out of heaven, parallels Genesis 19:24 in which we find the description of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

This story begins in Genesis 18 and in Genesis 18:22 we learn that the two angels head toward Sodom and Gomorrah while the LORD, who came with those angels, remains standing and talking with Abraham. Verse 33 of chapter 18 then tells us that when Abraham and the LORD finished talking, the LORD himself headed out toward Sodom and Gomorrah, just as he said he would do in verses 21-22. As we move forward to the end of the story, chapter 19:24 states "the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven." Here we have LORD on the earth raining down fire from the LORD out of heaven. This is a depiction of the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ on earth raining down fire from God the Father out of heaven, which is exactly what occurs in Revelation 20:10, when God again rains down fire out of heaven.

This event, in which Jesus defeats the devil one last time, is described for us by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:22-28.

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

In 1 Corinthians 15:22-28, Paul describes the order of resurrections. Jesus Christ first, then those at his coming. Paul even hints at another resurrection after the reign of Christ Jesus, just as Revelation 20 describes. When listing the order of resurrections, Paul writes "Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end." The word "then" in the phrase "Then cometh the end" indicates that it is potentially part of that same chronology of resurrections, which listed Christ as first and afterward the resurrection at his coming. This becomes even clearer when we read in verses 24-26 that "the end" involves the final defeat of death. And if death is defeated at the end, then we would expect potentially another release of all those under the power of death, and consequently, another resurrection at "the end."

But there is a more important point here in 1 Corinthians 15, one that is more relevant to our study. And that is the fact that in verses 24-28 Paul states Jesus Christ will reign until the final defeat of the last enemy at which point, after the last enemy is defeated, he will turn the kingdom over to God the Father. Consequently, Revelation 20:9's description of God the Father raining down fire from heaven to destroy the devil and his armies one last time corresponds to Jesus' final defeat of the devil, who has the power of death (Hebrews 2:14), which Jesus accomplishes by calling down fire from God out of heaven, just as he did to Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.

From the words of John in Revelation 20:5, now that the 1,000 years are complete we should expect another resurrection. And likewise, from the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, now that the last enemy, death, has been defeated marking the end of Christ's reign when he hands the kingdom over to the Father, we should also expect the release of anyone still under the power of death, or in other words, another resurrection.

After his final defeat by Jesus when Jesus calls down fire out of heaven from God the Father, the devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

And as soon as the devil's final defeat and subsequent imprisonment occur, we see the Father coming to exercise his judgment. This is exactly what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 15 when he wrote that after Jesus defeats the devil for the final time, Jesus will hand the kingdom over to the Father.

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Verse 11 is very significant to our current study. Verse 11 tells us that "the earth and the heaven" flee away before the face of God "and there [is] found no place for them," (meaning "no place is found for the heavens and the earth." Now, here we don't want to get confused. 2 Peter 3:6-13 that the "new heavens and earth" will come when the current heavens and earth are destroyed "by fire" in the same sense that the heavens and earth before the Flood were destroyed by water. There is fire called down from God out of heaven in Revelation 20:9-10. But the fire's effect is clearly stated as devouring the devil and those gathered with him. The fire of Revelation 20:9-10 is not said to destroy the heavens and the earth. Likewise, the heaven and earth are not said to flee away or pass away from that fire. Instead, verse 11 very clearly states that the heaven and earth flee away "from the face" of God the Father who sits on the throne.

Following the final defeat of death and Jesus handing the kingdom over to the Father, there is the last resurrection, which is found in verses 12-13 after the Father arrives to commence ruling and judgment.

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

In Revelation 20:5, John states that this last resurrection wouldn't occur until after the reign of Christ Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul stated that the Father would not receive the kingdom from Jesus until after Jesus accomplished the final defeat of the devil, which Revelation 20:1-3 and 7-10 describe as occurring after the 1,000 year reign of Christ. Consequently, it is very clear that this judgment by God the Father and the fleeing away of the heaven and earth from before His face all occur after the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. This is important, because it is clear that Isaiah 65, Isaiah 66, and 2 Peter 3 all placed the "new heavens and new earth" as occurring before the Millennium, when Jesus Christ comes with his saints, destroys with fire, and establishes peace on earth, increases human life spans, and institutes the nations worshipping him in Jerusalem on the Jewish feast days.

Revelation 21 begins with the fourth and final occurrence of the phrase "new heaven and new earth."

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.

It is important to note that the need for a new heaven and new earth is brought about by the events of Revelation 20:11, where the former heavens and earth flee away and no place is found for them. So, when Revelation 21:1 states that the "first heavens and first earth were passed away" it is referring to them passing away or fleeing away before the face of God. Consequently, this new heaven and earth constitutes a different new heaven and earth than the one at the start of the 1,000 years, which is what Isaiah 65, Isaiah 66, and 2 Peter 3 all describe.

This should not be confusing. Peter has already provided for us a framework for understanding multiple times when God creates "a new heaven and a new earth." 2 Peter 3 refers to the old heavens and earth before the Flood being destroyed by water and so he distinguishes the heavens and earth before the Flood from "the heavens and earth which are now." Thus, the current heavens and earth, which according to Peter await destruction by fire at the return of Jesus Christ, are a "new heavens and earth" from those that existed before the Flood. Likewise, the heavens and earth of the millennium are a "new heavens and earth," which Peter describes as arriving after the return of the Lord Jesus to destroy the present heavens and earth by fire. Peter describes those "new heavens and earth" of the Millennium as having been "promised" to us. Since the only time that they are mentioned prior to Peter's second epistle is Isaiah 65 and 66, we know that Peter understands Isaiah 65 and 66 to be referring to the "new heavens and earth" of the Millennium, which the details of Isaiah 65 and 66 also confirm. And finally, the "heavens and earth" of the Millennium will themselves be transformed, not by destruction as with fire or water in the past, but by face of the Father when he comes after the Millennium.

This raises the question of why the earth of the millennium is in any need of further replacement or renovation by the Father, if after all, Jesus was restoring the earth during the Millennium. Does Jesus not complete the task? Does Jesus hand over to the Father an earth that is not completely restored? And, given Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 15:22-28, how can Jesus hand the kingdom and the earth over to the Father if he has not fully subdued and renovated it?

The answer is actually quite simple. During the millennium, Jesus is restoring a corruptible earth to its condition before corruption, before the curse. He is removing the corruption but he is not yet making it incorruptible. Once the renovation of the corruptible earth is complete, and all traces of the curse and wickedness are removed, including the final defeat of the ungodly at the end of the millennium, then the corruptible earth has been fully purified from corruption and it is ready to be made incorruptible to last for eternity.

This makes sense in two ways. First, since there will be people living on the earth, populating the nations during the millennium who are not yet immortal or incorruptible, it is logical to think that the earth itself, although freed from corruption, will not yet be made incorruptible so long as there are corruptible people living on it.

Second, this pattern follows the pattern for believers, who first must purify themselves before being transformed, receiving the incorruptible and immortal bodies that will endure for eternity (1 John 3:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, Philippians 3:20-21). Thus, once the earth's restoration is complete and it is completely pure, including the removal of the last rebels, then it is likewise ready to be transformed and made incorruptible for eternity. This transformation is then accomplished by the face of the Father when He comes just as the saints, after purifying themselves, were transformed and made incorruptible and immortal when they see the face of Jesus at his return.

Consequently, we have now identified the timing of the "new heavens and new earth." According to 2 Peter and Revelation 20-21, this will happen 3 times in history. In 2 Peter 3:1-14, Peter describes two times when there arises a new heaven and new earth. The first time was at the Flood and the second time will be at the return of Christ Jesus. From Revelation 20-21, we also learn of a third renewal that takes place with the coming of the Father at the end of the 1,000 years. And, just as the earth that exists today will pass away by fire, leaving behind the new earth of the millennium in its wake, in the same way, when the Father comes, the corruptible yet restored earth of the millennium will pass away at his very appearance, leaving behind the new, incorruptible earth of eternity in the wake.

In addition, we might notice that although Isaiah 65 and 66 along with 2 Peter 3 all render "heavens" in the plural in the phrase "new heavens and new earth," Revelation 21 renders this phrase so that heaven is singular, saying, "the new heaven and new earth." One reason for this that fits very well with out interpretation so far, is that the type of renewal or change that occurs in Revelation 21 only applies to one heaven not all heavens. We have already discussed that even from Genesis 1-2 there appears to be delineation between a singular heaven that existed above the water from Day 1 and the second singular heaven that is an expanse spread out to separate the waters into an upper and lower layer on Day 2. The heaven created on Day 2 contains the atmosphere where the birds fly as well as outer space where the sun, moon, and stars reside.

If our interpretation is correct that the renewal of the heaven and earth in Revelation 21 refers to God the Father transforming creation from a corruptible to an incorruptible, eternal condition, it would make sense that this transformation would not be necessary for the heaven above the upper layer of water. The heaven above the upper layer of water is where God and the angels reside. Consequently, it is presumably already in an eternal, incorruptible state and would not be affected by or in need of such a transformation by God the Father. Thus, when Revelation 21 describes this rejuvenation, which occurs when the Father arrives on earth to judge after the Millennium, it only lists one heaven, singular, rather than heavens plural as we find in Isaiah 65 and 66 and 2 Peter 3. Conversely, the type of purging and transformation that is described in Isaiah 65 and 66 and 2 Peter 3 would appear to be changes that do not involve transforming the corruptible to the incorruptible and therefore, applied to all of the heavens.

Or, given the fact that sometimes scripture counts 3 heavens instead of 2, apparently counting the atmosphere and space separately, so that the heaven where God and the angels reside becomes the third heavens, it is possible that the "new heavens" plural of Isaiah and 2 Peter only refer to the heaven of the atmosphere and the heaven of space, leaving out the third heaven. But, at any rate, Revelation 21's apparent rendering of heaven as singular at least seems to indicate there is at least 1 less heaven included in that rejuvenation than in the previous rejuvenations at the Flood and at the return of Jesus Christ at the start of the Millennium. And that would seem to make perfect sense with the type of transformation that we have interpreted Revelation 20-21 to involve.



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