New heaven and new earth on the ultimate day of the Lord
This was moved from the What would Jesus do to the planet? thread.
Here is something else from my book (The Antichrist and the Second Coming). It continues the post that I put up earlier on the burning of the Land. As I see it, Revelation 21-22 is talking about the same thing as Isaiah 65-66: The destruction of the old covenant order at the full establishment of the new covenant order
A NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH ON THE ULTIMATE DAY OF THE LORD
Peter said that when the land of Israel was burned up on the ultimate day of the Lord there was to be new heaven and new earth (or new “land”): “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). In the following pages I will go into some detail on passages related to the new heaven and new earth. In doing so I will be looking back to Isaiah 64-66 and then ahead to Revelation 21-22. Both of these sections of Scripture speak of the new heaven and earth that would be established on the day of the Lord.
In considering the new heaven and new earth, first notice that Peter says that righteousness dwells in it (v. 13). It would seem that since there is still sin in the world today that we could not possibly be in this time of the new heaven and new earth. This reasoning seems logical but look at the description of the new heaven and earth in Revelation 21-22; there are still sinners in it (cf. Rev. 22:14-15). The new heaven and earth of Isaiah 65-66 likewise has sinners in it (cf. Isaiah 65:17-20). Neither is describing the eternal order.
THE TIMING OF REVELATION 21-22
In examining the new heaven and new earth in Revelation, the first consideration is that of timing. Revelation 21 shows the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven prepared as a bride for her husband to the new heaven and new earth (vv. 1-2). This is referring to AD 70, the time of God’s marriage to His people at the destruction of harlot Jerusalem (Rev. 19:1-9; cf. Matt. 22:1-10; Matt 8:10-12). Thus, the new heaven and new earth do not happen after the millennium, they are concurrent with it.14 That is, the new heaven and earth and the millennium are two images of the same time, the AD 70 full establishment of God’s kingdom (cf. Is. 65:17-25, where the new heaven and earth is described using language that is usually associated with the millennium).
Consistent with this, notice how “the regeneration” (that would happen in the new heaven and earth, cf. Rev. 21:1-5) was to take place at the AD 70 “judging” of Israel (Matt. 19:28); it is synonymous with the full establishment of the “kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30).
So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ Matthew 19:28
‘But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ Luke 22:28-30
The two sections are clearly talking about the same time period. Earlier in Matthew we were told that this time of the Son of Man coming “in the glory of His Father” would happen in the lifetime of some of Jesus’ first century hearers (Matthew 16:27-28). The kingdom of God would be fully established at the Second Advent (Luke 19:11-27); that would be the time of “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:19-21). Again the AD 70 full establishment of the kingdom of God at the Second Coming would be the time of the spiritual renewal that constitutes the new heaven and new earth.
IS THE NEW JERUSALEM A GIANT CUBE-SHAPED CITY THAT WE WILL LIVE IN?
The New Jerusalem descended to the new heaven and earth at the destruction of harlot Israel on the ultimate day of the Lord. This was the time of the marriage of the bride (Rev. 19:1-9; cf. Rev. 21:1-2). Notice that inside the “city” are the redeemed (Rev. 21:24-27), while outside it are the unredeemed:
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie (Rev 22:14-15).
Revelation is not talking about a literal cube shaped 1,500 mile high city (Rev. 21:16 NASB) that drops out of the sky; rather, it is revealing the bride of Christ and who is part of her and who is not (Rev. 21:9-10; cf. Heb. 12:18-29). The images of Revelation do not suddenly become literal at chapter 21. Revelation 21-22 are giving us a symbolic portrayal of the post-AD 70 kingdom age. The New Jerusalem coming to earth in the new heaven and earth in (Rev. 21:1-2) is a symbol of the full establishment of the kingdom of God in the earthly realm at that time (cf. Rev. 11:15-18).
And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Revelation 21:6-8
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murder and idolaters, and whoever love and practices a lie. Revelation 22:13-15
Again, this is not a literal picture of the future of the earth with some people in a giant cube shaped city and some outside it; rather, it is a symbolic portrayal of the post-AD 70 kingdom order. The New Jerusalem is cube shaped just as the Holy of Holies of the Temple was cubed shaped (1 Kings 6:20). God dwells in the midst of His New Jerusalem wife today (Rev. 21:9-10); we are His Temple (cf. Rev. 21:22-27).
God’s people being represented by a physical structure (i.e. the New Jerusalem) is not unique to Revelation. Elsewhere in the NT God’s people are likened to a house or Temple (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:10-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8). Notice how the New Jerusalem is built on twelve foundations which have the names of the twelve apostles (Rev. 21:14). Compare this with what Paul wrote of believers in Ephesians:
Now therefore, you are no longer stranger and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and member of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in who the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22; cf. Rev. 21:1-3
The meaning is the same in both contexts. A physical structure is being used as a symbol to portray the totality of God’s people (notice, the foundations of the New Jerusalem have the names of the twelve apostles, the gates, the names of the twelve tribes, Rev. 21:12-14). The New Jerusalem is not a giant cube-shaped city that believers will live in some day; we are the “living stones” that make up this city (cf. 1 Peter 2:5). Believers are the New Jerusalem (cf. Is. 62:12; Rev. 3:12); we are the wife of the Lamb! Robert Gundry summarized this concept well in an article entitled: “The New Jerusalem: People as Place not Place for People” (Novum Testamentum XXIX, 3, 1987). Those who are part of the New Jerusalem wife today have eternal life; those who are not part of her do not have eternal life. It is important to notice, however, that the gates of the New Jerusalem are open, (Rev. 21:25-27). Those who are outside can come in and become part of the bride by coming to the Lord; indeed, they are entreated to do so (Rev. 22:17).
Revelation shows the sea disappearing at AD 70 (again, this is symbolic, cf. Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45, the sea being a symbol of the abode of the serpent, cf. Is. 27:1 and the Gentiles, cf. Is. 60:5). This transformed the whole world into the Land at that time (i.e. the whole world became the Holy Land, Rev. 21:1-2) as the kingdom of God was fully established in the earthly realm. The kingdom authority of this planet that Adam lost to Satan (cf. Luke 4:4-8) was taken back by Jesus at the cross (Matt. 28:18; cf. Dan. 7:13-14). God then took this great authority and fully implemented His reign at the AD 70 destruction of those who were destroying the Land of Israel (Rev. 11:15-18; cf. Dan. 7:21-22). This was the time of the spiritual restoration of all things (Matt. 16:27-28; 19:28).