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The second of a two part series on the Heavens and Earth. (See part one here)

As they contemplate what comes next, many are influenced by Hollywood or a book or perhaps someone’s account of a near-death experience. But God’s Word reveals an amazing ‘journey’ for believers from physical death through to, “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pe 3:13)

At death, every person goes to an earthly grave. The Spirit of one who has placed their faith in Christ, goes to be with the Lord in Heaven, “…absent from the body and… present with the Lord.” (2 Cor 5:8). But those who have denied Christ or spurned God’s Word, have a different destination, known as Hades (Gk) or Sheol (Hb). Here, the unsaved dead of all ages, await final judgement at The Great White Throne.

Heb 12:22-24 speaks of a believer’s direct access to the highest heaven, “the city of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem.” The names of those who belong to Christ (“church of the firstborn”) are there, along with the spirits of OT saints who died in faith (“the righteous made perfect”). These ‘categories’ suggest that those who belong to God, retain their identities in Heaven.

The ‘transfiguration of Christ’ also implies this. Luke 9:29-31 records: “As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Moses had died 1400 years earlier and Elijah had been caught up to heaven 800 years prior. And yet, they were identifiable and could converse meaningfully with the Lord about what was soon to happen.

Supporting texts imply that we will also have memory! Luke 16:19-31 tells of the rich man and Lazarus and their destinations in the afterlife. In both cases they knew where they were and why!

2 Cor 5:10 tells us that all (Christians) will stand before the judgement seat (bema) of Christ, “so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” This is not a judgement for salvation but for rewards. It will take place after the RAPTURE and logically, necessitates some memory of what we did in life.

Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “… now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” So, when we get to heaven, we shall know fully, understanding much more than we could ever know here! It seems clear that we don’t lose our identity or memory … we add to it! In that realm, we will be recognisable, yet strangely and wonderfully different.

Paul teaches (1 Thess 4:13-18) that, at the Rapture, the spirits of deceased believers will return with Christ and be resurrected. And those still alive will be caught up in glorified bodies to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever. “Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” (v 18) Surely, this comfort includes being reunited with our loved ones! We are comforted because death is not the end of existence, it is just a relocation!

And these new, resurrected, glorified bodies will be the ones in which we will dwell in eternity. (See Philippians 3:20-21). Randy Alcorn writes, (Eternal Perspective,

“We will have real ‘spiritual’ bodies with physical substance (1 Cor. 15:42-44). We will be capable of talking, walking, touching, and being touched (Luke 24; John 20-21). Christ's resurrection body had an ability to appear suddenly, apparently coming through a locked door to the apostles (John 20:19), and ‘disappearing’ from the sight of the two at Emmaus (Luke 24:31). If our resurrection bodies have the same properties as His, this suggests an ability to transcend the present laws of physics and/or to move and travel in some way we are now incapable of.”

Now, while some theologians speak of “the present heavens,” the Bible tells us a time is coming when there will be, “New Heavens and a New Earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pe 3:13)

Isaiah wrote (65:17): “… behold, I create New Heavens and a New Earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Psalm 102:25-26 declares: “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed.”

Revelation 21:1-5 is very specific: “Now I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Those words are AMAZING!

We have only ever known life on earth as it is now. We face each day with its good and bad experiences. We laugh with joy… then cry with pain and suffering! We glimpse good and rejoice… and then evil returns! We marvel at ancient civilisations and stand in awe of the known universe... and yet, one day every last part of it will pass away! And it will be replaced by New Heavens and a New Earth where God will dwell among men and evil will be no more. Don’t you long for that day?

So, when will this happen?

Scripture indicates a timeline with seven distinct phases: 1. The Church Age, 2. The Rapture, 3. The Tribulation, 4. The 2nd Coming, 5. The Millennial Kingdom, 6. The Great White Throne Judgement, 7. New Heavens and New Earth. We refer to this last stage as the “Eternal State” for this will be the consummation of God’s ultimate PLAN of restoration.

2 Peter 3:7 says, “…the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by [GOD’S] word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men…” This suggests the present heavens and earth are being kept until final judgement at the Great White throne (Rev 20:11 ff).

Peter continues (v 10): “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”

What a cataclysmic event this will be involving, “great noise”, the “passing away” of the heavens and “fervent heat” as, “both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” “Burned up,” means “laid bare” or “exposed.” So, there will be a stripping away, a purification of all that now exists in our world. Every work of man, practice of evil and stain of sin will be “burned up.”

Dr David Jeremiah (“Book of Signs”) writes:

“In a million ways, we see the earth deteriorating around us. Look at an empty field. It doesn’t sprout into flowerbeds or ornamental gardens; it descends into a patch of weeds. Look at our human bodies. At a certain point, they begin to deteriorate, age, break down and fail. Look across our planet at the ravages of droughts, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods – not to mention the evils perpetuated by humanity’s sinful nature. All this is summed up by one word: CURSE.”

That CURSE has existed in all the ages of man! But Revelation 22:3, says that, with the coming of the New Heavens and New Earth, “…there shall be no more curse.” The CURSE will finally end, and the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21) will become eternal reality.

Now, the Greek word, for ‘new’ here, is kainos which means “new in nature or quality.” The 1st and 2nd heavens and the earth, have all been adversely impacted by the fall of man and influence of Satan, so they must be replaced to remove any trace of evil. But, the 3rd heaven, the abode of God, is already pure and Holy! So, while it doesn’t need changing, it will be relocated from the now unseen spiritual realm to the physical realm of the New Earth.

Rev 21:2, John saw, “… the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Again, in v 9, this holy city is called, “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” indicating that this place will be the eternal abode for the saints of all time, forever in the presence of GOD!

Hebrews suggests this city was Abraham’s motivation, “for he waited for The City which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb 11:10). And, that all those who died in faith, “…desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared A City for them.” (Heb 11:16) And now, that city will have come!

Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is WITH MEN, and He will dwell WITH THEM, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be WITH THEM and be their God.” So, in the Eternal State, God’s Heaven and the New Earth will no longer be separate but will be merged into one realm. If you like, “heaven on earth.”

Many believe that the New Jerusalem will be suspended just above the earth... a glorious place where:

  • righteousness dwells.

  • God resides with His people forever.

  • every part of the CURSE is gone: tears, death, sorrow, crying, pain

  • God’s glory fills the City

  • there is no more sea

  • there is no dedicated Temple because God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple

  • there is no night or sun or moon because God’s glory will be its light.

  • a river flows containing the water of life and the tree of life grows beside.

  • we (“His servants”) shall serve Him (Rev 22:3)

  • there is perfect righteousness and fellowship

A full description of its exquisite structure is given in Rev 21:12-21, but Scripture implies this is a literal city of immense proportions: 2,400 km long, 2,400 km wide, 2,400 km high (About Brisbane to Hobart on one side with a surface area of 5.76 M sq km).

What amazing blessings await us! In the meantime, two important challenges are before us.

Peter declared, 2 Pe 3:11-12, “… since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…”

1. Are you living in light of the COMING of the Lord and the wonders of His promises?

Rev 22:17 declares: “… the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

2. Have you responded in faith and received the blessing of Eternal Life? You can, by placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour!

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