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Particulars of Christianity:
303 Bible Cosmology


Heaven and Earth, Replaced or Restored:
"Restarts" vs. the First Start

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



Although Christians still debate this issue somewhat, this topic is really quite simple to comprehend. There are basically two theories regarding what happens to heaven and earth at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. First, some state that the former earth and heaven will cease to exist and will be replaced with a new earth and heavens. Others state that the former earth and heaven will not cease to exist or be replaced, but instead will simply be renovated, restored, and rejuvenated.

The question of whether the heavens and earth are replaced or rejuvenated involves a closely related question as to exactly what is being included in "heavens" and "earth." For example, earlier in these articles, we established that there were three definitions, or at least components, of heaven: 1) the sky and atmosphere, 2) space where the sun and stars reside, and finally 3) the place where angels and God reside and where the throne of God currently resides. Are all three aspects of heaven included in the phrase “new heavens?” For example, is the place where angels reside also to be replaced or rejuvenated?

As we investigated whether or not the place of the angels is included in the depiction of a "new heavens," we also explored related questions and indications concerning the creation of angels and the where they reside. If the place of the angels (heaven) is not included in the replacement or rejuvenation indicated by the phrase "new heavens," then what impact does that have on our understanding of the creation week of Genesis? Was the angelic abode included or excluded from the creation of Genesis 1? Furthermore, if the place of the angels was not included in the creation week of Genesis 1, what impact does that have on our understanding of the phrase "in the beginning" in Genesis 1? Is that really "the" beginning or just a beginning, perhaps the beginning "as far as man is concerned?" All these questions were explored as we investigated of the meaning of the phrase "new heaven and new earth."

The remainder of this study series will address those investigations and discuss the understanding of those events expressed in the scriptures themselves. Consequently, the discussion that follows will review many of the concepts explored in answer to those questions. Furthermore, the remainder of this study series will address the questions of whether or not the heaven and earth will be replaced or restored and whether or not the angels and the the place where they reside were created during or before the creation week of Genesis 1.

The most obvious and overriding concerning is perhaps what happens to the phrase "in the beginning" once the idea of a prior creation of angels and the angelic heavens is introduced? Suddenly, what seemed to be "the beginning" ceased to be the actual starting point. What was once fixed and singular now become relative and indistinct, just one instance in a larger category of "restarts." And the past actions of God and the history of the universe go from being declared and knowable to being obscured and unstated as the unique creation of all things is traded for a line of demarcation dividing what God intends to tell men about the history of the universe before man from what He does not.

It must be noted that the question of whether or not the phrase "new heavens and new earth" is a replacement or a restoration itself inherently involves the question of "restarts." However, there are a few points that allow us to establish a firm foundation on which to determine if Genesis 1 is actually the actual beginning of time and history or just a secondary creation after a prior creation of angels and their abode, merely one "start" among a series "restarts."

First, let's set aside for a moment of whether or not the Bible allows any room for a prior angelic creation. We know that the Bible does clearly indicate that God created all things. In the Old Testament, there are multiple times where the texts speaks not only of the "heavens" but also of "the heaven of heavens," indicating a place even beyond the heavens.

Deuteronomy 10:14 Behold, the heaven (08064) and heaven (08064) of heavens (08064) is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven (08064) and heaven (08064) of heavens (08064) cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

2 Chronicles 2:6 But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven (08064) and heaven (08064) of heavens (08064) cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?

These passages indicate that while God resides in the "heaven of heavens," they are not sufficient to contain him. Therefore, in 1 Kings 8:27 and 2 Chronicles 2:6, Solomon similarly wonders how God the temple he has built could be God's dwelling place, when even the heaven of heavens cannot contain God. In fact, 2 Chronicles 6 recounts Solomon's prayer in which he states that although the heaven of heavens cannot contain God, that is where God dwells and from there he hears the prayers of men.

2 Chronicles 6:18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven (08064) and heaven (08064) of heavens (08064) cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!...25 Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers…33 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name…35 Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause…39 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.

The phrase "heaven of heavens" seems to be the designation for the highest heaven in which God dwells but which itself is not greater than God or sufficient to contain him. Consequently, this phrase "heaven of heavens" would seem to correspond directly with the third definition of heaven, which we established early on in this study as the place where angels reside and where God the Father currently resides on his throne.

What appears to be going on is simple. The Hebrew word for "heaven" or "heavens" is "shamayim" (Strong's No. 08064).

08064 shamayim dual of an unused singular shameh
from an unused root meaning to be lofty; TWOT-2407a; n m
AV-heaven 398, air 21, astrologers + 01895 1; 420
1) heaven, heavens, sky
1a) visible heavens, sky
1a1) as abode of the stars
1a2) as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc
1b) Heaven (as the abode of God)

As we can see from the definition, "shamayim" is said to be derived from "an unused root" word meaning "to be lofty." The English word "lofty," which is here being used to define root word from which the Hebrew word for "heaven" comes from, simply means "elevated" or "rising to a great height." It is considered synonymous with the word "high."

"Lofty - 1a: elevated in character and spirit: noble b: elevated in status: superior 2: having a haughty overbearing manner: supercilious 3a: rising to a great height: impressively high lofty mountains b: remote, esoteric - synonyms see high." - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

The earth was the spot where man would dwell and the heavens are above it. Thus, they are given a name that is derived from a root word meaning "high" or "lofty" in order to reflect their position "above" the earth. In fact, the term "shamayim" is used precisely in the sense of being "above," particularly above the earth, in Genesis 1:20.

Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above (05921) the earth in the open firmament of heaven (08064).

Consequently, since the word heaven denotes the "high or highest part," the "heaven of heavens" reflects the very highest or loftiest portion of the heavens themselves. This was the portion of the heavens which was above the rest, just as the heavens as a whole were given that name because they were "higher than" or "above" the earth.

Likewise, notice that the rendering of the phrase "heaven of heavens" includes both a singular and a plural rendering of this same Hebrew word. For a word to be plural it must include no less than at least 2 of what it is describing. So, in the simplest terms, we have 3 heavens depicted in this phrase: 2 heavens with another heaven, or even higher place, above them. Right above the surface of the earth is the atmosphere. Beyond, or higher than, the atmosphere is space where the sun, moon, and stars reside. And beyond or above space is the third heaven, a heaven loftier than even the atmosphere and space. It is here that God and angels reside. Consequently, when Paul states that he was caught up to the third heavens, it is clear that he means this place where angels and God reside, which is situated beyond the atmosphere and space.

2 Corinthians 12:2 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. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

More importantly, scripture is clear that God made the heaven of heavens, where angels reside and where he resides and all that is in them, which would include the angels, just as much as he made the earth and seas and all that is in them.

Nehemiah 9:6 Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

And the New Testament is equally clear that God made all things, which indicates quite clearly that all the things that God created had a beginning or starting point.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Thus, at long last, we have arrived at our first foundation point. Setting aside for a moment of whether or not the Bible allows any room for a prior angelic creation, we know that the Bible does clearly indicate that God created all things, including all the heavens, and all that is in it, which of course means the angels also. This is important because it demonstrates that there is at least one starting point, one first creation when God made the first things. Consequently, regardless of what we learn about potential "restarts," we know that this series of "restarts" had one initial starting point, one start before which there were no others. The question then becomes, is that first start the start described in Genesis 1?

This leads to our second foundation point. The phrase "in the beginning" appears as the very first words in scripture and they appear without any qualification or elaboration. Furthermore, no subsequent passage in scripture ever describes or mentions any earlier creation. These two factors strongly suggest that, for whatever "restarts" might follow afterward, the creation week of Genesis 1 is the very first start ever, the very first time that God created. Any suggestion to the contrary is entirely a product of weak inferences and an argument from silence. As we will see, the inferences are weak because none of them add up to the weight of such a profoundly simple declaration as "in the beginning." And they are arguments from silence because they rely on the fact that some events, such as the creation of angels, are unstated or absent from the Genesis 1 account.

Without any qualification or elaboration that "the beginning" in Genesis 1 is a "relative" term (used perhaps to denote something along the lines of "the beginning as far as man is concerned"), there is simply no basis in the text itself on which to assert that this beginning is not the beginning. Left to be understood as it reads, the clear, unqualified indication of the text is that this is the beginning.

As we stated above, since there certainly was a starting point when God made the first things, why wouldn't we understand that first starting point was the creation week described in Genesis 1? There is no earlier creation ever mentioned or described anywhere in scripture. So, unless there were strong indications otherwise, the profoundly simple opening words of Genesis 1 provide solid reason for concluding that the creation week of Genesis was indeed, the actual starting point of all things.

Furthermore, we have to consider this. If the unqualified phrase "the beginning" is not to be taken to designate the actual beginning, then what phrase or term would convey that concept? Any other more specific phrase that we might think of is used as a synonym to refer to "the beginning" found in Genesis 1. And this leads us to our third foundation point. Mark 13:19 uses the phrase "the beginning of the creation which God created."

Mark 13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

We know from John 1 that all things were created by God. Consequently, Mark's designation of "the beginning of the creation which God created" must necessarily refer to the beginning of the existence of all things other than God himself.

It is important to note that this statement found here in Mark 13:19 is made by Jesus himself in the midst of his Olivet Discourse, which begins in the opening verses of the same chapter.

Mark 13:1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? 5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you…

The Olivet Discourse is also recorded in Matthew 24, which begins the same way as Mark 13.

Matthew 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

Matthew 24 also records the same statement recorded in Mark 13:19. However, Matthew's version is worded slightly differently. Instead of using the phrase "from the beginning of the creation which God created," Matthew simply says, "since the beginning of the world."

Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world (2889) to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

The Greek word for "world" here in Matthew 24:21 is "kosmos" (Strong's No. 2889), which has a range of meaning including "the earth" itself, "the arrangement of the stars" and by extension what we would call "outer space," and also "the universe" and all things that exist as a collective whole. We have already established that Mark 13 is referring to "all things created by God" and John 1 tells us that everything that exists was created by God. Consequently, since Matthew and Mark are recording the same statement using different words, we know that Matthew is using "kosmos" to refer to "all things created by God" and therefore "all things."

And in Mark 10:6, we see Mark record a shorter version of this phrase "the beginning of the creation which God created." In Mark 10:6, Jesus uses the phrase "the beginning of creation."

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

And Jesus is clear what timeframe he is referring to by this phrase "the beginning of creation" because he states that male and female were made by God at this time. Since the phrase "the beginning of creation" is simply a shorter form of the longer description "the beginning of the creation which God created," it is clear that Jesus understood that man and woman were created at the time when all things were created. Furthermore, since man and woman are created on Day 6 of the Genesis creation week, we know that the creation week of Genesis 1 is, indeed, the beginning of all things, not just some things or earthly things or human history.

Matthew records this same statement by Jesus but again using slightly different language.

Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

In Mark's version in Mark 10, we find the slightly longer phrase, "the beginning of the creation." Here in Matthew's version we twice find the even shorter phrase, "the beginning." Jesus even quotes Genesis 2:22-24. This demonstrates that Jesus, Mark, and Matthew all understood the very simple phrase, "the beginning," the very phrase which is used in Genesis 1, to refer to "the beginning of the creation which God created," or in other words, since God created everything, "the beginning of all things," not just one "restart" in a series of "restarts."

Additionally, understanding that the Gospel accounts establish the precedent for the meaning of such phrases as "the beginning" or "the beginning of creation," we can see that the writer of Hebrews also uses this shorter form "in the beginning" to likewise refer to the creation of all things. Notably, the foundation of the earth, which is described on Day 3 in Genesis 1:9-13 when the dry land emerges from the waters and the boundaries of the waters are set, is consequently indicated to occur at the timeframe of the beginning of all things, not just a "restart."

Hebrews 1:10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

And Peter also uses a shorter version "from the beginning of the creation" to designate the beginning of all things.

2 Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Finally, noting that Matthew 24:21 uses the word "kosmos" interchangeably as a synonym for "the creation which God created," we notice that Paul uses the same words in Romans 1:18-20. In fact, Paul uses elements of both Mark and Matthew's phrasing. Mark referred to "the beginning" of "the creation," using the Greek word "ktisis" (Strong's No. 2937) for "creation." And Matthew referred to "the beginning" of "the world," using the Greek word "kosmos" (Strong's No. 2889) for "world." Likewise, Paul combines both phrases and refers to a timeframe "from the creation of the world," the "ktisis of the kosmos."

Mark 13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation (2937) which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world (2889) to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation (2937) of the world (2889) are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

In conclusion, the following foundation points are clear. First, it is clear that according to the Bible was there an original starting place at some point, rather than just an endless series of restarts. Second, it is clear that the phrase "in the beginning" in Genesis 1 is the best candidate and indeed the earliest beginning revealed or described in the Bible. And third, it is clear that the New Testament authors and Jesus himself clearly understood that the beginning described in Genesis 1 was, in fact, "the beginning of creation which God created," which means there were no creations prior to Genesis 1. Consequently, this analysis rules out any possibility of an angelic creation, the creation of angels and their heavenly abode, prior to Genesis 1.

Now that we have identified Genesis 1 as the actual starting point, not just one "restart" in a larger series of "restarts," we are ready to go on and actually talk about the actual "restarts." At this point, as we establish that the Bible does describe what we've casually called "restarts" of creation at certain points in history, we will know not to get confused and reinterpret Genesis 1 as merely one of those "restarts." In addition, as we begin our examination of the phrase "new heaven and new earth" and the question of subsequent "restarts" in creation after the initial creation recorded in Genesis 1, a few of the issues, which arose during our investigation of a prior angelic creation, will be resolved quite well.



Related Images



Cosmology
(Days of Creation)
(Figures 1-6)




Cosmology Chart