Chapter 25 - Renovation of the Earth
Immediately after the destruction of Satan and his armies, John says, "I saw a 'Great White Throne' and Him that sat on it, from whose face the Earth and the Heaven (atmosphere of the earth) fled away; and there was no place for them." Rev. 20:11.
John then describes the Judgment of the "Great White Throne," and then adds-
"I saw a New Heaven; and a New Earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Rev. 21:1.
Of such a change in this earth we are not ignorant, but John does not tell us how it is to come to pass. But the Apostle Peter does.
"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. (The Great White Throne judgment)- 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.
"Nevertheless we, according to His Promise, (Isa. 65:17; Isa. 66:22) look for a New Heavens and a New Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." 2Pet. 3:7-9.
It is clear that Peter is referring to the same event as John, for he says it is to be at the "Day of judgment and Perdition of Ungodly Men, " and that is the "Great White Throne judgment" of the Wicked Dead.
A surface reading of the above passage would lead one to believe that the earth as a planet, and the sidereal heavens, are to be destroyed by fire and pass away. But a careful study of the Scriptures will show us that this is not so, that what is to happen is, that this present earth, and the atmosphere surrounding it, is to be Renovated by Fire, so that its exterior surface shall be completely changed, and all that sin has brought into existence, such as thorns and thistles, disease germs, insect pests, etc., shall be destroyed, and the atmosphere purified and forever freed from evil spirits and destructive agencies.
That this is the correct view of the passage is clear from Peter's words in verses 5 and 6.
"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."
The world that the Apostle is referring to here, was not the "Antediluvian World" that was changed by the "Flood, " but to the "Primeval World, " mentioned in Gen. 1:1, and which was made waste and void by a Flood that completely submerged it. Gen. 1:2. See the Chapter on "Rightly Dividing the Word."
The Apostle Peter divides the history of the earth into three periods. The period before the earth was made "formless and void, " or the "Primeval Earth, " which he calls "the world that Then Was; " the present period which he calls "the heavens and the earth which "Are Now, " and in which there has been no great change since the restoration of the earth, described in Gen. 1:3-2:1; and the New Heaven and Earth which is yet future. 2Pet. 3:5-7, 2Pet. 3:13.
Now as the Framework of the "Primeval Earth" was not destroyed by its "Watery Bath, " so the Framework of the "Present Earth" is not to be destroyed by its "Baptism of Fire."
This is confirmed by the Apostle's use of the Greek word "Cosmos, " which means the "land surface, the inhabitableness of the earth, and not the earth as a planet. It is the exterior surface of the earth then that is to "Melt With Fervent Heat" and the "Works Therein Burnt Up." The intense heat will cause the gases in the atmosphere to explode, which the Apostle describes as the "heavens (the atmosphere) passing away with a great noise." The result will be the destruction of all animal and vegetable life, and the alteration of the earth's surface.
The Greek work "Parerchomai, " translated "pass away, " does not mean "termination of existence" or "annihilation, " but means to pass from "one condition of existence to another." The Apostle Paul in his letter to Titus, (Titus 3:, Titus 3:5), speaking of the "Regeneration" of men, uses the same word that Jesus used when, in Matt. 19:28, He promised His Disciples that in the "Regeneration, " that is in the "New Earth, " they should sit on "Twelve Thrones" judging the "Twelve Tribes" of Israel. Now no one supposes that the Regeneration of a man is his Annihilation." It is simply a Renewing Process by which he is brought back to the condition of man spiritually as before the Fall. The word "Restitution" in Acts 3:21, means the same thing. The"Dissolving" of which Peter speaks, (2Pet. 3:11), is the same word Jesus used when He said of the colt-"Loose him and let him go." The teaching of the Scriptures is, that "Creation" is at present in a "State of Captivity, " waiting to be Loosed from the Bondage that sin has caused. Rom. 8:19-21.
As to the "Departing as a Scroll" of the heavens, and the "Flying Away" of the earth and heavens, of which John speaks, (Rev. 6:14; Rev. 20:11), a total disappearance of all the material worlds is not at all the idea, for he tells us that afterwards he saw-the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven, and nations living and walking in the Light of it on the earth, and the Kings of the Earth bringing their Glory and Honor Into It." Rev. 21:2, Rev. 21:24.
The Holy Spirit by Solomon said, "One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the Earth Abideth Forever." Eccl. 1:4. It is specifically promised that "the Meek shall Inherit the Earth, " (Matt. 5:5), and that the Children of Israel shall dwell in it forever, (Isa. 60:21 ; 66:22), and if God's people are to inhabit it forever, it must EXIST FOREVER. It is clear then that this earth as a planet is not to be annihilated, but that it is to be Cleaned and Purified by Fire and made fit for the home of those peoples and nations that are to occupy it after its renovation.
This earth that has been consecrated by the Presence of the Son of God, where the costliest sacrifice that the Universe could furnish was offered up on Calvary to redeem a race, for which God has a great future, is too sacred a place to ever be blotted out or cease to exist, for it is the most cherished orb in the mind of God of all His great creation.
The New Heaven and the New Earth.
With the "Renovation of the Earth by Fire, " Time does not end and Eternity begin, for we read in the New Testament of a "Perfect Kingdom" that Christ shall surrender to the Father, so that God may be "All in All." 1Cor. 15:24-26. A Kingdom in which-
"At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in Heaven, and things in Earth, and things Under the Earth, and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ IS LORD." Phil. 2:9-1 Phil. 2:1.
This describes a Kingdom in which all things Celestial, Terrestrial and Infernal are to be subject to the SON OF MAN.
Now this "Perfect Kingdom" cannot be the "Millennial Kingdom, " for that, as we have seen, ends in Apostasy and Rebellion. It must therefore mean another Kingdom on the Other Side of the Millennial Kingdom, " and as there is to be no other Kingdom between the "Millennial Kingdom" and the "Renovation of the Earth by Fire, " it must mean a Kingdom that is to follow the "Renovation of the Earth by Fire, " and that Kingdom is the Kingdom of the "New Heaven and the New Earth, " which we call on the "Rightly Dividing the Word" Chart, the "Perfect Kingdom."
If, as some hold, the "Seventh Day" of the "Creative Week" corresponds to the Millennium, then we have a prophecy of the Dispensation that follows the "Renovation of the Earth" in the "Morrow After the Sabbath." Lev. 23:36.
The Seventh day of Genesis had to do with the "Old Creation, " which was imperfect, but the "Eighth Day" has to do with the "New Creation, " which is perfect, for it was on the "Eighth Day, " or the "First Day of the week, " that our Lord arose from the dead, and 50 days later, on the "Eighth Day, " that the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. The "Eighth Day" cannot point to the Millennium, for that is represented by the "Seventh Day, " neither can it point to Eternity, for a day is a Period of Time, while Eternity is Timeless. The "Eighth Day" must then point to a "period of time" between the "Renovation of the Earth" and Eternity, or what we are pleased to call the "Perfect Age."
It is also a Dispensation, called in Eph. 1:10-
"The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times."
That is, a "Full-Time Dispensation." The intimation is, that all the previous Dispensations were not "Full-Time" Dispensations, that God had to cut them short on account of sin.
As to the duration of this Dispensation of the "Fulness of Times" we are not in the dark. Israel is to have a large place in that Dispensation.
"For as the New Heavens and the New Earth, which I will make shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your (Israel's) Seed and your Name REMAIN." Isa. 66:22.
And as the duration of God's Covenant with Israel was extended in Deut. 7:9 to a "Thousand Generations" or 33, 000 years, we have an intimation that the "Dispensation of the Fulness of Times" will last for at least that length of time.
Let us look at some of the characteristics of that Age or Dispensation.
There Will Be No Sin.
All the powers of Evil will have been expelled from the earth and imprisoned in the "Lake of Fire" forever.
The atmosphere of the New Earth will afford no lurking place for disease germs, for there shall be no more sickness or death, and health will be preserved by the use of the leaves of the "Tree of Life." The heavens shall not robe themselves in angry tempests and sombre blackness, nor flash with the thunderbolts of Divine wrath, nor cast plagues of hail on the earth, nor cause devouring floods of water or destructive wind storms. It may be that in that day, "a Mist shall go up from the earth and water the whole face of the ground" as in Eden, for we read that there shall be-"No More Sea, " not that there shall not be large bodies of water, for the river that flows through the street of the New City must have an outlet, but that there shall be no great oceans.
The earth shall also put on its Edenic beauty and glory. There shall no longer be thorns and thistles, no parasites or destructive insects, and labor shall be a delight. No serpents shall hiss among its flowers, nor savage beasts lie in ambush to destroy and devour. Its sod shall not be heaped over newly made graves, nor its soil moistened with tears of sorrow and shame, or saturated with human blood in fratricidal strife. The meek shall inherit the earth, and from north to south, and from east to west, it shall blossom like the rose and be clothed with the verdure of Paradise Restored.
But there is not only to be a New Heaven and a New Earth, there is to be a New City. This City is the place Jesus said He was going back to Heaven to prepare for His Bride the Church. John 14:2-4. It is just such a place as we would expect the Divine Architect to design and build. The description of it is surpassingly grand. It is of Celestial origin. It is not Heaven itself, for it comes down "out of Heaven." No mortal hands are employed in its construction. It will take up its abode on the New Earth, and we see in this why this present Earth will have to be renovated by fire, and why there shall be "no more sea, " for the New City is 12, 000 furlongs, or 1500 miles square, and would reach from Maine to Florida, and from the Atlantic Seaboard 600 miles to the west of the Mississippi River. In other words would occupy more than one-half of the United States.
We are told that the length and breadth and the height of it are equal. This does not necessarily imply that it is a Cube, for there is another geometrical figure that has equal dimensions, and that is a Pyramid. This is its probable form, for a wall 144 cubits, or 216 feet thick, could not support a wall 1500 miles high, and a wall that high would hide the pyramidal part of the City from view.
The 144 cubits (Rev. 21:17) then must refer to the "height" of the wall. In this wall are 12 gates, 3 on each side, each gate of one Pearl, and these gates are never closed.
The wall itself is of jasper, and the foundations are garnished with all manner of precious stones. The foundations contain the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and over the gates are the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. What a magnificent spectacle such a city must present from a distance with its pyramidal top surmounted by the light of the "Glory of God."
"For the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the 'Glory of God did lighten it, and THE LAMB is The LIGHT THEREOF." Rev. 21:23.
"And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, for there shall be No Night There." Rev. 21:25.
This refers to the City only, and not to the outlying parts of the New Earth, for there will be day and night wherever the light of the City does not reach.
The Pyramidal part of the City will doubtless be in the centre of the City, and probably not occupy over one-half of the surface area, leaving the remainder to be divided up into boulevards and broad avenues, with numerous parks and residential sections. We are told that the City itself is of Pure Gold, Like Unto Clear Glass. Rev. 21:18. If this refers to the houses and homes of the inhabitants, then the redeemed are to live in palaces of Transparent Gold, and the streets are to be of the same material. Rev. 21:18, Rev. 21:21. We cannot imagine a city with such dwellings and streets to be unclean or lack beauty.
The streets are to be lined with trees, as are also the banks of a wonderful river. These trees are not mere shade trees, but beautiful Fruit Trees, called the "TREE OF LIFE." that bear Twelve Kind of Fruit, a different kind each month. The fruit of these trees is for Overcomers Only.
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the 'Tree of Life' which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." Rev. 2:7.
The leaves of the trees are for the Healing of the Nations that shall occupy the New Earth. Not that there will be any sickness, but to preserve them in health, as Adam would have been preserved in health if he had eaten of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Gen. 3:22-24.
The wonderful river is called the River of the "Water of Life, " because of its "life giving" properties. Earthly streams have their source in some mountain spring, but the "River of Life" has its source in the Throne of God. Rev. 22:1.
Somewhere on that "Pyramidal Mountain" in the centre of the City, probably on its summit, will rest "The Throne of God," from under the seat of which shall flow down in cascades, from terrace to terrace, the crystal stream that shall feed that wonderful "River of Life' "
Whoever heard of an earthly city without some place of worship, be it heathen or Christian, but the wonderful thing about the New Jerusalem is, that it has no Temple. Why need a Temple when the object of worship is present, for "The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb Are the Temple of It." In fact the whole City itself will be a Temple.
"Then the 'Tabernacle of God' shall be with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His People, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the FORMER THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY." Rev. 21:3, Rev. 21:4.
This means that Heaven shall have come down to Earth, and that this earth will become the RESIDENCE OF GOD.
Outside the walls of this beautiful City, spread over the surface of the "New Earth, " nations shall dwell, whose kings shall bring their glory and honor into it, but nothing that will defile or work abomination shall ever enter in through those "Gates of Pearl, " for there will be no sin on that New Earth. Rev. 21:24-26.
Who Are to Be the Happy Inhabitants of This New Earth?
Where did the people who inhabited the earth after the Flood come from? They were the lineal descendants of Noah, how did they escape the Flood? They were saved in an Ark which God Provided. Gen. 6:13-15. Shall not God then during the "Renovation of the Earth by Fire, " in some manner, not as yet revealed, take off righteous representatives of the Millennial nations that He purposes to save, and when the earth is again fit to be the abode of men, place them back on the New Earth, that they may increase and multiply and replenish it, as Adam (Gen. 1:27, Gen. 1:28), and Noah (Gen. 9:1), were told to multiply and replenish the present earth.
If God could take off Elijah for the purpose of sending him back again to herald the Second Coming of the Lord, surely God can take off representative men from the nations and put them back again on the New Earth to repopulate it. If this is not God's plan then we have one type in the Scriptures that has no antitype, for Noah's Ark, which is a type, has no antitype unless it be this.
It is clear from the Scriptures that God does not purpose to create a new race for the New Earth, His promise as to Israel is that the descendants of Abraham shall inherit this earth for a "thousand generations, " or 33, 000 years; now this is not possible unless they are transplanted to the New Earth. And this is just what God has promised.
"For as the New Heavens and the New Earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall Your 'Seed' and Your 'Name' REMAIN." Isa. 66:22.
It seems clear from the presence of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, that God intended the human race to populate the Earth, and when it became too thickly populated, to use the surplus population to colonize other spheres. Our "Solar System" is only in its infancy. The Earth is the only one of its planets as yet habitable. Where are the inhabitants for the other planets to come from? Think you that the planets of our Solar System, and the planets of other solar systems, of which the stars are the suns, were made simply to adorn the heavens for our little earth? God does not plan things on a Small Scale, and it magnifies His power and wisdom to believe that He created man in His own likeness, a created being higher than the angels, and gifted with the power of Procreation, that He might by means of him populate the Universe. This magnifies the Scheme of Redemption. Think you that God gave His Son to die on Calvary just to redeem a few millions of the human race? Why He could have blotted them out, as He probably did the Preadamite race, and created a new race, and Satan would have laughed because he had the second time blocked God's plan for the peopling of this earth.
No, God will not permit Satan to block His plan for peopling this earth with a Sinless Human Race. The death of Christ was not merely to redeem a few millions of the human race, but to redeem the Earth, and the Race Itself from the curse of sin, and the dominion of Satan.
The Apostle James tells us that we are only the "First Fruits" of His Creatures." James 1:18. What then must the HARVEST BE?
The Universe is young yet. We are only in the beginning of things, for "Of the increase of His government and peace THERE SHALL BE NO END." Isa. 9:7.
When this Earth shall have gone through its "Baptism of Fire, " and shall be again fit for the occupancy of man, the representatives of the "Saved Nations" (Rev. 21:24) will be men and women in whom no taint of sin will remain, and who cannot therefore impart it to their offspring, who will be like the offspring of Adam and Eve would have been if they had not sinned. This magnifies the whole scheme of redemption, and justifies God in the creation of the human race.
The Great Abdication.
The "Millennial Age" and the "Perfect Age, " between which the Earth is Renovated by Fire, make up the "Age of Ages, " which period is called the KINGDOM OF THE SON OF MAN.
At the close of the "Age of Ages" when Christ "shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under his feet, " then Christ as the Son of Man, shall surrender the Kinjgdom to God, that God may be ALL IN ALL. 1Cor. 15:24-26. This is known as The Great Abdication. There have been many abdications of thrones in the world's history, but none like this. Thrones have been abdicated for various reasons. Some have been forced, others voluntary. Some on account of physical infirmity, or to secure some particular successor. But Christ will not abdicate for any of these reasons. He will abdicate because He has Finished the Work That Was Given Him to Do as the Son of Man. He will not surrender His Human Nature, but His title "Son of Man" will merge back into that of "Son of God" so that the Divine Godhead shall thereafter act in its Unity, and God shall be "ALL IN ALL." This will end what we understand by Time. Then Eternity will begin, which will be divided up into the Ages of the Ages. Of its end there is no hint.