This post is one in a series of posts on a Bible study I am doing titled Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Dave McCleskey. The focus of this study is to get a Biblical view of what heaven is really like.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). These are the very first words in the Bible. They describe the very first thing God did in relation to us and all of creation. When God created the universe, He did it to be an expression of who He is. God is good, so His creation was “good” (see Genesis 1:10,12,18,25,31). He created the earth as a display of His glory (see Psalm 72:19, Habbakuk 2:14). Unfortunately, because He gave humans free will, there was rebellion, and our sin caused the fall of all creation. Alcorn says “the universe fell under the weight of our sin.” At the time, to an outsider looking in, it may have appeared that God’s plan had failed. He had tied His glory to His creation, and His creation had fallen. This has all sorts of implications about God – it makes it appear as if He is not all-knowing and all-powerful, and it definitely takes away from His glory. But this is only if you look at the beginning of the story – it’s the end of the story that tells what is really going on.
God’s plan from the beginning was to bring all creation back to what He originally created. He originally created earth, and mankind to dwell on it, and he intended it to be a place where He could fellowship with His creation. So, it is only fitting that He would bring all of creation back to its original state. The Bible uses words like reconcile, redeem, restore, regenerate, recover, return, renew, and resurrect – Alcorn points out that all of these words begin with the prefix re-, “suggesting a return to a previous condition that was ruined or lost.” God’s plan from the beginning allowed for us to fall away from Him, because He knew He already had a plan for bringing us back to our previous condition. And the same is true of the earth. God isn’t going to get rid of His creation by destroying the earth – He’s going to create a new heaven and a new earth (see Revelation 21:1).
If you’re like me, you want some scripture to back this up:
- Isaiah 65:17 – “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.” God spoke of creating a new heaven and a new earth long before even Christ came (in case you don’t get what I’m saying, Isaiah wrote this before Christ’s birth. It’s in the Old Testament). A new heaven and earth was part of His original plan.
- 2 Peter 3:10,12-13 – “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” The apostle Peter also told of a new heavens and a new earth. I used to think that this passage meant that the earth would be destroyed by fire, and everyone would die then (kind of like what happened during the flood of Noah). But this is talking about the passing away of the old earth prior to the creation of the new one. This happens after Christ’s return to earth and after our bodily resurrection, so this passage can’t be describing what I thought it was describing.
- Matthew 19:28 – “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.’ ” (emphasis added). Where would Peter get an idea that all things would be restored (which he wrote about in the previous passage)? Alcorn points out that “he not only learned it from the prophets (see the passage from Isaiah above), he heard it directly from Christ.” In this passage, Jesus specifically says that in the end all things will be renewed. Everything will be made new..
These are just a couple of examples of Biblical truths that speak to the renewal and restoration of God’s creation. It doesn’t even graze the ideas of our redemption and reconciliation to God through faith in Christ. When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, and she and Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God cursed Satan by saying “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). This is a direct reference to Christ (the woman’s offspring) – though Satan will strike his heel (an injury, but not life threatening in the scheme of things), Christ will crush his head (a life-ending blow). God said this way at the beginning of time! He knew even back then that humans would fall, and He put in place a way to get us back to where we needed to be, and where He intended us to be from the beginning – through Jesus.
So because of Christ, everything can be brought back to where it was intended to be. God originally created humans to live on earth – He’s not planning on taking us to live in some unearthly, spiritual realm that we weren’t created for. God has his glory tied to His creation – He’s not going to get rid of it. God is going to create a new earth, and that’s where we’re going to live for eternity. “We were designed to live on the earth to God’s glory.”
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.