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.
Today’s post will be rather short compared to many previous posts, but it will discuss some interesting ideas that are important to understanding what Heaven will be like. Several scriptures describe what appears to be the destruction of the earth, and many people (myself included) have been taught that this will occur at the end of time and it will be God’s final judgment against the earth. Kind of like a final act at the end of all things. These scriptures include:
- Psalm 102:25-26 – “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 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.”
- Revelation 21:1 – “…for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…”
- 2 Peter 3:5-7,10 – “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…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.”
This last passage was the one I always heard about growing up – it speaks of the earth being destroyed again, as it was in the flood, only this time by fire, and it speaks of ungodly men being destroyed with it as before. I used to be scared of Jesus coming back, because I thought that it meant that I would die a horrible, fiery death. But today’s study pointed out that just as there are passages talking about the earth’s destruction, there are also passage that talk about it remaining forever:
- Ecclesiastes 1:4 – “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.”
- Psalm 78:69 – “He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever.”
So how do we handle these seeming contradictions? We have to understand that we are misapplying the word destroy to mean final destruction – in reality, just like in the flood of Noah’s time, though God may choose to destroy the earth with fire, when He is finished the earth will still remain, and He will restore it by making it as it was before, only better.
A Description of the Restored Earth
One very descriptive passage that explains some of what the restored earth will be like is Isaiah 65:17-19,21,25 – ” ‘Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth…But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more…They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the LORD.” I will be the first to point out that reading the context of this passage seems to contradict some of what Alcorn proposes (such as having memories of our pasts, or that there will be no more death – see the entire passage to see what I mean), but I will wait until the study is finished before I email him and ask – he may answer it later on.
The restored earth will be ruled by Christ himself
- ” ‘As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure. …All mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD.” (Isaiah 66:22-23).
- “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.” (Psalm 72:11)
- “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:9-10).
In the end, in the words of Alcorn, “the earth’s death will be no more final than our own. The destruction of the old earth in God’s purifying judgment will immediately be followed by its resurrection to new life. Earth’s fiery “end” will open straight into a glorious new beginning…,” which will be in many ways similar to what we already know and understand about the world we live in, and in many ways will be different from and better than anything we’ve ever seen.
Click HERE to see the next post in this series.