Monday, March 21, 2016

Isaiah 65:17-25 New Heavens and New Earth

KEY TEXT: Isa 65:17, 19-20 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind… I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

KEY THOT: Isaiah prophesies here about a time when God will create a “new heavens and a new earth”. This is similar to John’s vision in Revelation 21:1-2, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Obviously, Isaiah and John seem to be speaking of the same thing, yet, there is a difference: while in John’s vision of the new heaven and new earth, “death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4), but in Isaiah’s vision of the new earth, people will still die, though they live much longer: “the young man shall die a hundred years old” (Isa 65:20). So, are they speaking of the same thing? Some bible scholars believe that Isaiah was describing the millennium reign of Christ, after He returns to earth to establish his kingdom rule over the nations: “They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection” (Rev 20:4-5). This 1,000 year reign of Christ will be the prelude to the arrival of the new heavens and new earth when this old earth is finally destroyed with the ungodly who rejected Christ's reign, as indicated in 2 Peter 3:7: “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”  

During that interim reign of Christ upon the old earth, people will live much longer and there will be harmony between humans and his environment. But there will still be unsaved sinners: “the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed” (v.20). In this millennium, Satan is bound in the pit (Rev. 20:3), but he will be finally released for his final act of rebellion against God at the end of the millennium period. Then will come the destruction of Satan and ungodly nations that follows him to fight against Christ’s rule in the final cosmic battle called the Armageddon. resulting in the old earth being destroyed, as spoken of in 2 Peter 3:7. 

Having said that, we also acknowledge that there are some scholars that hold to what is known as the amillennialist view (no-millenium reign). Such scholars will reject my interpretation of Isaiah 65:17-25. Be that as it may, we can all rest assured that as true believers we shall one day participate in the final “new heavens and new earth” when we shall receive our new resurrection bodies to live and work and fully express the creative gifts of God to “till the earth” in new Eden, where "death shall be no more". Thanks be to God for this glorious hope. Death shall no longer keep people in bondage to Satan, who will be banished forever into the lake of fires.

Whether we believe in the millennium or not will not change our ultimate hope of the new heavens and new earth of Revelations 21:1-4. 

Father, we thank You for Your love that has prepared this new place for us where there will be no more sickness and death and no sorrow and tears. Amen.

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