New Heaven and New Earth


Dr. John Hoole – October 19 & 26, 2014




Revelation 21:1 NKJV


Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.



Think about it!  In view of the sheer vastness of the stellar universe, it is truly amazing that God sovereignly chose our tiny planet as a center of divine activity.  Relatively speaking, the earth is but an astronomical atom among the constellations, only a tiny speck of dust among the ocean of stars and planets in the universe.  To the naturalist astronomer, the earth is but one of many planets in our small solar system.  But the earth is nevertheless the center of God’s work of salvation in the universe.  It was on this earth where God on many occasions met with individuals throughout biblical times.  It was on the earth that Jesus became incarnate and died for the sins of humankind.  And it will be to the earth that the Lord Jesus comes again at the Second Coming.


The importance and centrality of the earth is so evident in the creation account.  God created the earth before He brought the rest of the planets and stars into existence.  He divides the dry land and sea (Gen. 1:9), creates vegetation, trees bearing fruit (1:11-12) before He address the sun, moon and stars.  The earth is the central planet in God’s sovereign plan.


Unfortunately, as we think back to the scene in the Garden of Eden in which Adam and Eve sinned against God, we remember that a curse was place upon the earth by God (Gen. 3:17-18; Rom. 8:20-22)

As a result, for Christ to finish His eternal purpose, God must deal with the cursed earth.  The earth and the stellar heavens must make room for the new.


The entire physical universe was created for God’s glory Psalm 19:1).  But humanity rebelled, and the universe fell under the weight of our sin.  Yet the serpent’s seduction of Adam and Eve did not catch God by surprise.  He had a plan in place by which he would redeem mankind – and all of creation, from sin, corruption and death.  Just as He promised to make men and women new, He promises to renew the earth itself.


Following the 1,000 Reign of Christ (Millennium) and following the judgment at the Great White Throne, both of which are mentioned in Revelation 20, our attention is immediately directed in the first verse of Chapter 21, to the new heaven and the new earth.  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,…”.  The phrase, “I saw,” occurs three times in this chapter, each of them marking a major element of the revelation (Rev. 21:1, 2, 22).  The last two chapters of the Bible are speaking of our eternal future.


James Moffat


Speaking of Revelation 21 in comparison to chapter 20, Moffat says: “From the smoke and pain and heat it is a relief to pass into the clear, clean atmosphere of the eternal morning where the breath of heaven is sweet and the vast city of God sparkles like a diamond in the radiance of His presence.”


There are three other biblical passages that use the phrase, new heaven and new earth.  Two of them are found in the book of Isaiah


Isaiah 65:17 NKJV


17     For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.


Isaiah 66:22 NKJV


22     For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me," says the Lord, "So shall your descendants and your name remain.


Many other passages allude to the new heaven and new earth without using those terms.  God’s redemptive plan climaxes not at the return of Christ, nor in the millennial kingdom, but on the New Earth.  Only then  will all wrongs be made right.  Only then will there be no more death, crying, or pain.


Finally the prophecy of Revelation 21:1, 5 will be fulfilled:


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea … He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”


                   We have reason to rejoice, for we are destined for a new heaven and a new earth.


It should be understood that the New Heaven mentioned here is not speaking about where God is enthroned at this moment.  The Bible uses “heaven” in three senses.  The first heaven is the earth’s atmosphere, the “blue sky.”  The second heaven is outer space, the “night sky.”  The third heaven is the place where God lives in glory.  When Scriptures speak of a New Heaven, they mean the new “blue sky” and a new “night sky.”


We actually have little scriptural revelation concerning the New Earth, except that it infers it will be quite different from our present earth.  The only major characteristic mentioned is “there was no longer any sea” (verse 1).  That is a major contrast to our earth today with 70% of its surface covered by water.  God used the sea to judge the old earth (Genesis 6:8), and there will be no hint of judgment in the New Earth.  In the various passages that speak of the New Earth, none indicate the world is no longer round.  There is no indication either that the new earth will be larger or smaller than the present earth.


Many Christians over the past 2,000 years have wondered: In what sense are the earth and heavens made “new”?  There are two primary viewpoints held by Christians – the renewal view and the replacement view.  There are a number of theologians I respect which are in each camp.


Will the present earth and the entire universe be utterly destroyed or annihilated, and the New Earth and new universe made from scratch?  Or will the original universe be renewed and transformed into the new one?




The replacement view holds that the universe will be annihilated and replaced with a brand new, second universe created ex-nihilo (out of nothing).  In favor of this view are the statements in Revelation 21:1, “The first heaven and the first earth had passed away,”  Additionally, the same chapter states, “the old order (NKJV= former) of things have passed away” (21:4).  Other theologians point out, however, that such phrases could also be applicable to the renewal model.  The argument is that Christians themselves are viewed as a “new creation” in which “the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Those phrases seem to point to their spiritual renewal, not their replacement.


At first glance, some Scriptures seem to answer that the current earth will be utterly destroyed.


Psalms 102:25-26 NIV


25     In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

26     They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.


Luke 21:33 NKJV


33     Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.


Another, perhaps more convincing argument offered in favor of the replacement view is the fourth passage where the phrase, new heaven and new earth, is mentioned.


2 Peter 3:10-13 NKJV


10     But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

11     Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

12     looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

13     Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.


Several observations can be made from these verses.  First, it is clear that the new heaven and the new earth are future, at least future from when Peter was alive.  In verse 13, Peter says those living back then were “looking for” a new heaven and earth.  This passage also indicate the new heavens and earth pertain to no other time in history, because the context places these events at the end of time as we know it.




In sharp contrast, there are passages that speak of the earth remaining forever.


Ecclesiastes 1:4 NKJV


4       One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.


Psalms 78:69 NKJV


69     And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth which He has established forever.


It is clear that the earth as it is now will not remain forever.  But what does that really mean?


According to the renewal view – which is the view I personally lean towards, the new heavens and new earth will be this present universe purified of all evil, sin, suffering, and death.  Bible scholars who hold to this view tell us that the Greek word used to designate the newness of the cosmos is not NEOS but KAINOS.  NEOS means “new in time” or “new in origin.”  But KAINOS means “new in nature” or “new in quality.”  It does not mean it started recently.  This isn’t just the next heaven and the next earth.  This is the better heaven and better earth replacing the old.


Therefore, the phrase “new heaven and new earth” refers not to a universe that is totally other than the present one.  Rather, the new universe will stand in continuity with the present one, but will be utterly renewed and renovated.


J. Oswald Sanders likewise comments:


“The picture is of the universe transformed, perfected, purged of everything that is evil and that exalts itself against God.  It is ‘new,’ not in the sense of being a new creation, but of being new in character – a worthy milieu for the residents of God’s redeemed people.”


Anthony Hoekema


“In his redemptive activity, God does not destroy the works of his hands, but cleanses them from sin and perfects them, so that they may finally reach the goal for which he created them.  Applied to the problem at hand, this principle means that the new earth to which we look forward will not be totally different from the present one, but will be a renewal and glorification of the earth on which we now live.”


God has never once renounced his claim on what He made.  He isn’t going to abandon his creation.  He is going to restore it.  He surrenders no territory to the devil.  We can expect things to be on this new earth in continuity with the present earth, that is, atmosphere, mountains, water, trees, people, houses – even cities, building, and streets.


No!  God has never given up on his original creation.  There is an entire biblical vocabulary that makes this point clear.  Reconcile.  Redeem.  Restore.  Recover.  Return.  Renew.  Regenerate.  Resurrect.  Each of these biblical words begins with the re- prefix, suggesting a return to an original condition that was ruined or lost.


One example is reconciliation, and means the restoration or reestablishment of a prior friendship or unity.  Another, Renewal means to make new again, restoring to an original state.  Resurrection means becoming physically alive again, after death has occurred.  Redemption, means to buy back what was formerly owned.  Scripture often speak of the entire creation, which was part of the curse given by God in Genesis, and how it is awaiting the final act of redemption (Romans 8).  The renovation may be radical.  It may involve the violence of purging, but the purifying act ultimately redeems rather than annihilates.


These words emphasize that God always sees us in light of what he intended us to be, and He always seeks to restore us to that design.  Likewise, He sees the earth in terms of what He intended it to be, and He seeks to restore it to its original design.


Let me again quote Anthony Hoekema.


“If God would have to annihilate the present cosmos, Satan would have won a great victory, … Satan would have succeeded in so devastatingly corrupting the present cosmos and the present earth that God could do nothing with it but to blot it totally out of existence.  But Satan did not win such victory.  On the contrary, Satan has been decisively defeated.  God will reveal the full dimensions of that defeat when he shall renew this very earth on which Satan deceived mankind and finally banish from it all the results of Satan’s evil machinations.”


John Piper argues that God did not create matter to throw it away.


         He writes: “When Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:10 say that the present earth and heavens will “pass away,” it does not have to mean that they go out of existence, but may mean that there will be such a change in them that their present condition passes away.”


         He goes on to say, “The caterpillar passes away, and the butterfly emerges.  There is real passing away, and there is a real continuity, a real connection.”


Paula and I will never forget driving to church on May 18, 1980, and seeing a cloud of volcanic ash billowing high into the atmosphere.  It was the eruption of Mt. St. Helens some 90 miles south of where we were.  Ash fell upon much of the Pacific Northwest, some receiving several inch of ash.  Some people for a while wore surgical masks to keep from choking.  The destruction of the once-beautiful mountain and its surrounding area was catastrophic.  Great trees were charred and had fallen like giant matchsticks.  The devastation appeared to be total and comprehensive.  Experts predicted that it would certainly be decades, possibly centuries before the area came back to life.


And yet within only a few years it had begun to be restored, demonstrating healing properties that God has built into his creation, even though it currently is under the curse.


After seeing such utter devastation replaced by new beauty – even apart from God’s supernatural intervention, I have no trouble envisioning God remaking a charred Earth into a new one, fresh and vibrant.


Even if the term “new earth” appeared nowhere in Scripture, even if we did not have dozens of other passages such as Isaiah 60 that refers to it so clearly, Acts 3:21 would be sufficient.  This passage tells us that Christ will “remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”  This “everything” is an all-inclusive promise.  It is more than restoring our bodies as they come out of their graves.


It is God restoring mankind to what we once were, what He designed us to be, fully embodied, righteous beings.  However, God does not overrule our “free will” to choose against Him.  Those who choose not to make Christ the Lord of their life will be allowed that choice and the consequences that comes with it.


He will also restoring the entire physical universe to what it once was.  Where will the restoration that Peter preached about be realized?  The answer, he tells us, is found in the promises given “long ago through holy prophets.”  Read the prophets and the answer become clear – God will restore everything on earth.


The apostle Peter did not invent the notion of all things being restored.  And he did not learn it from only the Old Testament prophets.  He heard it directly from Christ.  In Matthew 19, we find Peter hoping for commendations or rewards, and he pointed out to Jesus that the disciples had left everything to follow Him.  The Lord didn’t rebuke him for such thoughts.  Let’s read what Jesus said to him.


Matthew 19:27-28 NIV


27     Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"

28     Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


Note Christ’s word choice.  He did not say “after the destruction of all things,” or “after the abandonment of all things, but “at the renewal of all things.”


Do you ever read your Bible and a phrase catches your eye, where you say to yourself, “I have read this many time, but never saw that statement before.”  That happened to me while studying this lesson.  I was ready in Luke 2, which tells us about Mary and Joseph taking baby Jesus to the Temple on the eighth day from his birth, which was the custom.


The passage tells of a righteous man named Simeon, to whom God had told would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.  Simeon bless baby Jesus, and makes some comments to Mary and Joseph which, we are told, caused them to “marvel at what was said about Jesus.”  Two verses later, we are introduced to a widow named Anna.  She was a woman in her eighties, and spent her time praying and fasting in the temple.  She sees the child after he was blessed by Simeon, and walks over to Mary and Joseph.


Luke 2:36-38 NIV


36     There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

37     and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

38     Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.


We might hurry on to the next verse telling us Mary, Joseph and Jesus returned to Nazareth.  But don’t be so quick to continue on without taking note of the end of verse 38.  Anna spoke to everyone about the Baby Jesus.  Then she adds that she spoke to all who were looking forward to the redemption of JerusalemShe was saying the redemption that had now come  was not only for themselves, but also for their city Jerusalem.


And who would be the agent of that redemption?  Jesus, this child, the Messiah who would become King not only of redeemed individuals, but also King of a redeemed Jerusalem and King of a redeemed earth.  This is the gospel of the Kingdom.  Anything less is a narrow view of God’s redemptive plan.


Steven J. Lawson wrote:


“Whatever sin has touched and polluted, God will redeem and cleanse.  If redemption does not go as far as the curse of sin, then God has failed.  Whatever the extent of the consequences of sin, so must the extent of redemption be.”


But God will never override our “free will”.  Everyone has the option to either accept or reject Christ as Lord and Savior.  If we don’t say “Thy will be done”……He will say to us “Thy will be done.”


In Genesis 3, the curse given by God was upon the earth as it was also upon humankind.  Romans 8 echoes this by linking our personal salvation to the earth’s restoration.


Romans 8:20-22 NIV


20     For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope

21     that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22     We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.


When Christ returns, God’s agenda is not to destroy everything and start over, but to “restore everything.”  The perfection of creation once lost will be fully regained, and then some.  The same Peter who spoke these words in Acts 3 wrote the words about the earth’s destruction in 2 Peter 3 – apparently he saw no conflict between them.


God is the ultimate salvage artist.  He loves to restore things to their original condition – and make them even better.  God’s purpose in our salvation is reflected in a phrase from the hymn “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”: ruined sinner to reclaim.” Reclaim is another re- word.  It recognizes that God had a prior claim on humanity that was temporarily lost but is fully restored and taken to a new level in Christ.


Psalm 24:1: The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  God has never surrendered his title deed to the earth.  He owns it – and He will not relinquish it to his enemies.  Whatever sin has touched and polluted, God will redeem and cleanse.  If redemption does not go as far as the curse of sin, then God has failed.  Whatever the extent of the consequences of sin, so must the extent of redemption be.


What will the new nature of this earth be like?  We have never seen men and women as they were intended to be.  We’ve never seen animals the way they were before the Fall.  Today we see only marred remnants of what once was.


Likewise, we have never seen nature unchained and undiminished.  We have only seen it cursed and decaying.  And yet, even now we see a great deal that pleases and excites us about creation as it now is.  It can, even now, move our hearts to worship its Creator.  If the “wrong side” of Heaven can be so beautiful, what will the right side look like?  If the smoking remains are so stunning, what will earth look like when it is resurrected and made new – restored to the original?


C.S Lewis


“In the truest sense, Christian pilgrims have the best of both worlds.  We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next, and we take solace whenever it does not.”


In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis portrays the White Witch, who parallels the devil, as having a hold on Narnia that makes that world “always winter, but never Christmas.”  Those loyal to Aslan the Lion, though they have never seen him, eagerly await his appearing, for only he can make the world right again by assuming his role as rightful king.  (First, however, he will shed his redemptive blood on the Stone Table.)


It is not only the individuals of Narnia who need Aslan to come, it is the entire world of Narnia.  Similarly, Scripture tells us, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8).


Notice Aslan’s intention.  He is the king, the son of the great Emperor beyond the Sea.  Yet he delegates the responsibility of ruling the world to sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.  Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy are the rulers of Narnia..


In the same way, God intends for us, sons and daughter of Adam and Eve, to be rulers of his New Earth, which He powerfully delivers from its always-winter-never-Christmas curse.


It is impossible to understand the ministry of Christ without the larger view of His redemption’s sweeping salvage plan.  Albert Wolters points out that most of Christ’s miracles are miracles of restoration – restoration to health, restoration to life, restoration to freedom from demonic possession.


The miracles of Jesus provide us with a sample of the meaning of redemption: a freeing of creation from the shackles of sin and evil and a reinstatement of creaturely living as intended by God.  God placed mankind on Earth to fill it, rule it, and develop it to God’s glory.  But that plan has never been  fulfilled.  Should we therefore conclude that God’s plan was ill-conceived, thwarted, or abandoned?  No.  These conclusions do not fit the character of an all-knowing, all-wise, sovereign God.


God determined from the beginning that He will redeem mankind and restore the earth.  Why?  So His original plan will be fulfilled.




God loves every person, and deeply desires every person to come dwell with Him in the New Jerusalem and upon the New Earth.  God is the First and the Last, the Beginning of all and the end of all, the First Cause, Himself uncaused.  He is the Sovereign Creator who has the right to do whatever He chooses.  Yet He graciously offers to every person who is thirsty for eternal life to come and drink deeply and freely, without charge, of the water of life.  You cannot buy eternal life.  You cannot earn eternal life.  You cannot do any good work whatever to have eternal life.  ou must trust in Jesus, the only way to God (John 14:6).  It is He who died to pay the price of redemption for your sins and mine, and He alone can reconcile you to God (Romans 5:8, 10).  If you trust in Jesus, you will be forgiven and have everlasting life.  God offer this to you, free of charge.  If you haven’t already accepted this offer, will you today.  The alternative is almost too horrible to mention (Revelation 21:8).