The New Heavens and the New Earth – When and How?

jason_familyWhat are the “New heavens and New earth” as prophesied by Isaiah and Peter?  See how the Scriptures compare to the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. – By Jason

Matt 24:30, 2 Tim 4:1, Rev 5:12,13, Phil 2:10,

Here are some scriptures used regular by Jehovah’s Witnesses which speak of New Heavens and New Earth

Isaiah 65:17, 22

“For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making are  standing before me,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “so the offspring of YOU people and the name of YOU people will keep standing.” (NWT)

1 Peter 3:13

“But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (NWT)

Revelation 21:1

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more.” (NWT)

 

Psalm 37 is also widely used by Jehovah’s Witnesses to highlight a restored inhabited earth for the meek and obedient of Jehovah.

Psalm 37:9, 11, 29

“For evildoers themselves will be cut off, But those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth…But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace….The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.” (NWT)

 

 


 

Below are direct quotes from Watchtower publications highlighting their view and interpretation of the “New Heavens & New Earth”

 

NEW HEAVENS according to Jehovah’s Witnesses

“What are the “new heavens”? They are the new spiritual governing powers that God has ordained to rule the righteous new world. They are a heavenly government. God has purposed that the “new heavens” or Kingdom government would be made up of the King together with a limited number of “a new creation….Thus the “new heavens” will be made up of Jesus Christ and his 144,000, the “joint heirs with Christ(Watchtower  August 1st 1960)

“The “new heavens” is a new government that will rule over the earth. It is new because it will replace the present system of rulership” (WTBTS “Keep on the Watch” Pg 16-19 2004)

“The New Jerusalem, together with Christ on his throne in this symbolic city, constitutes the “new heavens” that rule over the “new earth,” which is human society on earth.” (WTBTS “Insight of the Scriptures Vol 2 Pg 496-7 1988)

NEW EARTH according to Jehovah’s Witnesses

 

“What is the “new earth”? It is not a new globe, since the Bible clearly states that the earth will be inhabited forever. The “new earth” is a new human society. It will be new because the wicked will have been cut off.” (WTBTS “Keep on the Watch” Pg 16-19 2004)

 

“A great crowd of sheeplike persons have come…What is the hope of this “great crowd” of sheeplike persons that come “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” to associate with the New World society? Their hope is to live in the new world and to enjoy everlasting life on earth. They expect to survive Armageddon along with the remnant of God’s spiritual nation. They keenly look forward to the time when, after the old, wicked “earth” is destroyed, the remnant dedicate the “new earth” to Jehovah’s worship. The remnant, in Jehovah’s due time, will leave the post-Armageddon “new earth,” that they may be with the King Jesus Christ in the eternal “new heavens.” The “new earth,” then, will eventually be made up entirely of the “other sheep”…. These “other sheep” will include not only the “great crowd” of Armageddon survivors and their offspring but also those who are brought back from the dead in the “resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Watchtower  August 1st 1960)

 

 


 

 

EARTH ENDURES FOREVER according to Jehovah’s Witnesses

 

The Watchtower Society emphasises the everlasting endurance of earth in these direct quotes;

 

“It is God’s purpose for the vast majority of those who serve him to make this earth their home forever. Note how God’s Word, the Bible, comments on this. Psalm 37:11 foretells: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” For how long? Psalm 37:29 says: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Awake 4/8/1997 Pages 8-10)

 

“Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that eventually billions will receive everlasting life on earth as subjects of the Messianic rule. Thus, we are firmly convinced that the earth will never be destroyed and that the Bible promise will be fulfilled: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29.” (WTBTS 1992 Jehovah’s Witnesses What do they believe) 

 

 


 

 

In contrast to the Watchtower Societies interpretation of the “New Heavens & New Earth” the Christian World has two main views namely the “Restoration” & “Annihilation” views. The following overview presents these teachings in a non-dogmatic style.

 

VIEW 1. CHRISTIAN RESTORATION

 

In the Restoration View the “New Heavens & New Earth” are seen in relation to the original Pre-flood and Pre-fall World. To the restoration Christian the “New Heavens & New Earth” will be a RESTORED “Heavens & Earth” Below is an overview of this interpretation;

 

What did the ancient Hebrews believe about the New Heavens and earth?

 

World Renewal is a theme that runs through the Old Testament from the fall in Eden, especially in relation to the nation of Israel.

 

Isaiah 65:17-25. 66:22

“For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, YOU people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation. And I will be joyful in Jerusalem and exult in my people; and no more will there be heard in her the sound of weeping or the sound of a plaintive cry.”  “No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him.  And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.  They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear. “The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull; and as for the serpent, his food will be dust. They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain,” (NWT)

 

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making are standing before me,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “so the offspring of YOU people and the name of YOU people will keep standing.” (NWT)

 

For Isaiah and his Hebrew contemporaries the restoration to divine favour of Israel and future blessings to Israel were an expected reality. These restoration views come across forcibly in the text. We must also accept contemporary Jews reading Isaiah were cognizant with the Genesis account of creation. With this understanding the visions END concluding in a “New heavens and New earth” is correspondent with the BEGINNING in Genesis.

 

Consequently the “New heavens and New earth” of Isaiah’s prophecy according to the restoration view point is NOT a vision of literal re-creation but of the restoration of the primeval to a higher plain such as precludes all further disturbance. Man and all creation in the “New heavens and New earth” are thus restored to a pre-fall status. Consequently no separation of humanity into Classes, i.e. 144,000 governing from Heaven over an earth populated by a secondary sheep-class can be deduced from these verses.

 

Further evidence for the “New Heavens and New earth” being confined to the physical realm can be seen in Jesus words at Matthew 19:28. Jesus words allude to the Genesis account.

 

“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration (palingenesia) when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (KJV)

 

Jesus himself spoke of the affect of restoration expressing at Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (KJV) 

 

At Hebrews 2:5 Paul speaks of the inhabited World to come; “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come (oikoumene mellousa), whereof we speak” (KJV) 

 

Thus when the bible speaks of a “New Heavens and New earth” by examining the historical back ground of the time and considering the Hebraic thinking behind the statement the restorationist view concludes that the underlying thought of the restoration of humanity has at its core the genesis account of the fall. The Genesis account by necessity imposes itself upon future scriptural revelations which express a “new heavens and new earth” We cannot rip the verses out of their context and add our own interpretation such as the WTBTS has done.

 

Armed with the backdrop of the Genesis account which underpins the words of Isaiah, when examining the words of Jesus and Paul, we can see the New Heavens are limited to the cosmological heavens surrounding earth, including the sky and atmosphere.

 

Nowhere in scripture does the bible express that corruption exists with-in the celestial dwelling of God (heaven). Nowhere does the Bible express that the celestial realm needs replacing or needs a new heavenly Government to rule over the earth. Rather the expectation of both the prophets and apostles was of restoration of the physical creation.

 

At Hebrews 12:26-28 the apostle Paul highlights that both the literal earth and heavens will be shaken calling these “made” Paul then contrasts the physical with the spiritual stating that the Kingdom we receive cannot be shaken, for it is supraphyical originating from the celestial.

 

Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more

I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.  And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (KJV)

 

Thus the clear teaching is that with-in the dwelling place of God is perfection, no deterioration or corruption exists in his realm. Thus no need for renewal or restoration is required. From Gods abode he issues forth statements referring to the dwelling of man and his habitation in the physical universe wherein restoration does need to occur and thus the New Heavens and New Earth are to be understood literally as being a future event with-in the physical universe.

A Purified Physical Universe

 

The apostle Peter made an extraordinary statement regarding the earth. At 2 Peter 3:6-13 he said;  “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:  Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (KJV)

Underlying Peter’s graphic description is the thought of restoration of the “Land” and bringing back the corrupt creation and physical universe to perfection. This can be seen by Peters use of the deluge account which history showed to be a divine judgement followed by restoration.

By using the deluge account Peter drives home the point that the New heavens and New Earth would will be the regeneration of the world (Matthew 19:28) Peter’s very descriptive words help us see that to produce a new heavens and new earth a literal burning, cleansing and restoration of the corrupt physical heavens and earth are needed to get back to the condition before the fall the Genesis Eden.

 

Paul speaks of a restoration of the creation at the revealing of the sons of God in Romans 8:19, 22.   

“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of  him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (KJV)

 


 

 

VIEW 2 ANNIHILATIONIST

 

An alternative Christian view and one which is just as valid is that the whole physical Universe which now exists will be literally destroyed and annihilated (Burnt up) and be replaced by a new literal “Heavens and Earth” of God’s making. Below is an overview of this interpretation;

Looking at the creation account in Gen 1:1 it reads “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”

The Hebrew word bara is used for creation. This same Hebrew word bara is used by Isaiah in connection to the “New Heavens and New earth”

Isaiah 65:17  “For, behold, I create (bara) new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall Not be remembered, nor come into mind”

Thus some feel that the use of bara / Create proves the present earth and heavens will be totally destroyed and re-created. A completely new created Physical universe.

At Matthew 24:35 Jesus states; “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

Herein the “pass away” is believed to be literally the destruction of the planet earth and a replacement of it – A new earth and heavens. (Note; in context Jesus is perhaps using hyperbole to contrast his statement concerning the coming tribulation and end time signs with the heaven and earth passing away, thus the language is most likely figurative.)

Peter speaks of the new heavens and earth in these terms;

2 Peter  3:10  “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (KJV)

The passage seems very clear that the literal earth and literal heavens will be burned up and replaced by a whole new physical universe.

While we cannot be dogmatic the prophecies pertaining to Israle may well be fulfilled during Christ’s Millenial reign on earth, followed by a literal “New Heavens & New Earth” at the end of the Millenium and after the final Battle (Revelation 20:7-10)

Revelation 20:11 is another verse suggesting complete destruction of the universe. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (KJV) 

Annihilations believe the whole universe will be burned up before the glory of God during his great white throne judgment. Peter spoke in 2 Peter 3:11 of “all things being dissolved”

After this final destruction when “all things are dissolved” a new literal “New Heavens & New Earth” will be established. We will enter a new period of History which is yet to be written but is touched upon in Chapters 21 & 22 of Revelation.

Sources;

1) “Heavens, New (And Earth, New)”

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. II: 1353-1354. [1915]

2) “The Promise of New Heavens and a New earth” www.ccel.org

 


 

CONCLUSION

The Bible is clear that at some future point a NEW HEAVENS and NEW EARTH will exist with a restored humanity. How this will be achieved is conjecture based on interpretation.

1) RESTORATION VIEW;

That the “Earth” & “Heavens” that now exist will undergo a Renovation and Restoration by the fire of God, in preparation for an eternal dwelling place.

2) ANNIHILATION VIEW;

That the “Earth” & “Heavens” that now exist will undergo a Complete destruction and annihilation by God’s hand, after which God will create a literal “New Heavens” & “New Earth” for an eternal dwelling place.

Thus the Bible must stand alone without the need for additional superfluous explanations or the imbuing of verses with ones own bias. Reading the “New Heavens & New Earth” verses in their biblical context and by using Historical exegesis Christians are lead to the above conclusions. Either of which can be correct.

Those who live in the “New Heavens and New earth” will be a “New Humanity” a “New Creation” as explained by the apostle Paul (2 Cor 5:17, Ephesians 2:15, Romans 8:17)

So what about the Jehovah’s Witness Interpretation?

 THE EARTH ENDUES FOREVER? (Psalm 104:5)

The Christian viewpoint of a literal “Annihilation” of the current cosmos and a literal “New Heavens & New Earth” stands in stark contrast to the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation. Let us examine the idea of the earth residing forever as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

We must examine the Hebrew word translated in the New World Translation forever or time indefinite. Does the Hebrew word “Olam” in every instance convey the idea of “Eternal” Should the Hebrew word Olam always be understand exactly as the English translation implies?

 

In ancient Hebrew culture the Word “Olam” can simply refer to a “Long time” consequently “Olam” is used in a relative way. An example is its use in relation to the Aerobic priesthood. To the writer (Moses) and those of that time period the Aaronic priesthood would indeed be “Forever” Olam.

 

Exodus 29:9 says “….the priesthood must become theirs as a statute to time indefinite” NWT (time indefinite = Hebrew Olam)

 

However the Aaronic Priesthood DID end it did not last “Forever” Thus when God speaks of the “earth” enduring forever or time indefinite this is in relation to his purpose, the Historical and temporal setting and the contrasting Hebraic language used.

 

Thus when we look at Peters inspired words below we get a new revelation of Gods purpose for the earth. Peter’s words modify the Psalmist words. They do not contradict the meaning of OLAM.

Yet Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought YOU to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which [the] heavens being on fire will be dissolved and [the] elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” — 2 Peter 3:10-13 (NWT)

How can the heavens & earth melt?

Surely the maker of the “Heavens & Earth” has the ability to achieve whatever he wants. If we read the words of Peter literally and allow his words to speak in context then the literal replacement of the current Cosmos is not out of the question, in fact the scripture points us to this conclusion.

DID NOT JESUS SAY HIS FOLLOWERS WOULD INHERIT THE EARTH?

Matthew 5:5 “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they shall inherit the earth” (NWT)

Yes he did, but Jesus also said his followers would inherit heaven!

Matthew 5:10, 12 “Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Rejoice and leap for joy, since YOUR reward is great in the heavens”

In fact Jesus told those listening;

Matthew 5:8, 9 “Happy are the pure in hear, since they will see God. Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called “sons of God”

 


 

 
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
 

While the following is NOT absolute for we cannot be dogmatic about future events which are in the Father’s jurisdiction (Matthew 24:36) the outline is scripturally defensible.

  1. God Created the Heavens & Earth (Genesis 1:1)
  2.  Mans rebellion brings sin and death (Genesis 3:6, Romans 5:12, Romans 8:20,21)
  3.  The Prophets foretell restoration on earth and coming messiah. (Isaiah 65:17,22 Daniel 9:25,26)
  4.  Jesus becomes the second Adam our atonement by his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 5:17, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Corinthians 15:22, Hebrew 9:14,15)
  5.  Jesus awaits the time of restoration (Matthew 19:28, Hebrews 1:8,9,13 2 Thess 2:6)
  6.  Jesus returns for His Church (bride) (1 Thess 4:14-17, 2 Tim 4:8, Rev 19:17)
  7.  Jesus returns to earth in Power & Judgement and the Great Tribulation of God’s wrath begins (Matt 24:30, 2 Tim 4:1, Rev 5:12,13, Phil 2:10; Jeremiah 30:7, Mark 19:20)
  8.  Satan & Demons abyssed (Rev 20:2,3)
  9.  Jesus sets up his earthly Kingdom for 1000 years (Rev 20:6,40, Rev 5:10, 2 Tim 2:12)
  10.  Satan let loose final Battle (Rev 20:7)
  11.  Satan & Demons defeated and cast into Lake of Fire (Rev 20:10)
  12.  Great White throne Judgement of the dead (Acts 17:31, 1 Cor 4:5, 1 Peter 4:5, Rev 20:5,11)
  13.  Separation into eternal life or eternal damnation “Lake of Fire” (Rev 20:12-15)
  14.  New Heavens & New Earth established (2 Peter 3:10,12,13, Rev 21:1, 5)

 


 

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