Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark
“Heaven and earth shall pass away.”
“But we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.”
Just as God spoke heaven and earth into existence in the beginning, so He will bring into existence “new heavens and a new earth”. Satan rebelled against God and defiled not only this earth but also the present heaven; consequently, both are to be destroyed. The apostle Peter gave the following description of how this will take place: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements, consumed with burning heat, will be destroyed, and the earth, and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2Pet. 3:10).
Another reason that there will be a new earth is that the coming new earth will be the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. “The Lord,” as you recall, “said to [Abraham] ‘Lift up your eyes, please, and look northward from where you are, and southward, and east, and west. For all the land that you see will I give to you and to your seed forever’” (Gen. 13:14–15). The land Abraham surveyed was the land of Canaan, as God later made clear when He renewed His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:8), “I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual possession.”
But that ancient, earthly “promised land” of Canaan was only a shadow of what God had in store for Abraham and his children, for we are told that Abraham “lived in the land of promise as a stranger in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, joint-heirs of the same promise, for he was waiting for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:9–10). If earthly Canaan had been the real “promised land”, then Abraham would not have been dwelling there “as if in a foreign country”, looking for another place, and a city built by God.
The children of God will inherit the real “land of promise”, not the earthly land of Canaan, but the new earth for which Abraham was looking, and for which all true children of Abraham still look.
Paul said, “The promise, that he would be the heir of the [new] world, came not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith [in Christ]. . . . As it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’ ” (Rom. 4:13, 17). The promise of being given the new earth, for an eternally peaceful home is the promise made to everyone who, through faith in Jesus, becomes a spiritual child of Abraham. Through Jesus Christ, all who believe will inherit with all the righteous of all ages the promises which God made to Abraham. In Galatians 3:7, Paul said, “They who are of faith are the sons of Abraham,” then he goes on to say, “if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs because of the promise.”
For God to fulfill His promise to Abraham, there must be a resurrection, for the prophet Ezekiel said this (37:12–14): “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I will open your graves and bring you up out of your graves, O my people, and I will bring you to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and bring you up out of your graves, O my people, and put my spirit in you and you come to life, and I give you rest upon the land. Then you will know that I the Lord spoke, and I brought it to pass, says the Lord.”
Thank God for the promise of the resurrection! “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” wrote the apostle Paul. But thanks be to God, we have a sure hope in Christ of a resurrection from the dead, and the promise of an eternal home on the new earth, and we are of all men most happy!
This present earth was made for man, and this heaven was made for God, as David said: “The heaven of heaven is the Lord’s, but the earth, He has given to the sons of man” (Ps. 115:16). Just so, the new earth will be for man; specifically, for those redeemed by Christ. They will live forever on the new earth after reigning with Christ a thousand years on this old one, during which time the “marriage supper” takes place and the saints, with Christ, judge the wicked. At the end of the thousand years, the wicked will receive this sentence from the mouth of the Lord: “Go away from me, you cursed, into the eternal flame that is prepared for the Accuser and his angels.” And then, the saints will be given that new earth and will enjoy eternal peace.
Peter gives us this warning concerning the promise of which we speak: “The Lord of the promise does not delay, as some think of delay, but waits patiently for us, not wanting any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements, consumed with burning heat, will be destroyed, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. So then, seeing that all these things are to be destroyed, what kind of people ought you to be in all holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens, being on fire, will be destroyed, and the elements, consumed with heat, will be dissolved? But we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2Pet. 3:9–13).
By referring to heaven as the future home of the redeemed, many unwittingly contradict this great promise of God to Abraham, for we are not promised the new heaven but the new earth for our eternal home. Jesus affirmed this when he said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt. 5:5).
In a vision, John saw the fulfillment of God’s promise of a new earth, and he wrote, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev. 21:1). David showed his confidence in God’s promise of a new earth when he counseled us to “wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the earth. When the wicked are cut off, you will see” (Ps. 37:34).
Solomon once said, “The blessing of the Lord, it makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22). What is this “blessing of the Lord”? Saints of a previous generation, with good reason, frequently referred to the baptism of the holy Spirit as “the Blessing”. With this in mind, let us read this scripture from Psalm 37:22: “For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off.”
Now, my dear Reader, have you received “the Blessing”? If so, Isaiah offers you these encouraging words: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”
“The wicked”, Solomon said, “will not inherit the earth” (Prov. 10:30). And David added this warning concerning the fate of the wicked, “The wicked will perish, and the enemies of the Lord, like the splendor of pastures, will vanish; they will vanish in smoke” (Ps. 37:20). Yes, children of God, after the destruction of the wicked and of this present heaven and earth, the new earth will be given to God’s faithful children for an everlasting inheritance. And there, thanks be to God, they will never again be misunderstood or persecuted.
We who have received “the Blessing” have been given the promise of an inheritance on the new earth; still, we must live free from sin in this life in order to receive that inheritance. Nothing unclean will be allowed into the true “promised land”. Jesus and the apostles preached often and plainly that only those who obey God will be allowed to enter into eternal life (Mt. 7:21; Rom. 2:5–10). In that light, and after reading this tract, no sincere person of fair intelligence can fail to understand that God will give the new earth only to His children who are faithful to Him. May God help us to live a consecrated life so that we may be among them who receive that eternal inheritance.
Jesus said, “In my Father’s home are many rooms” (Jn. 14:2). Later, Paul described those “rooms” like this: “We know that if our earthly home, a tent, be taken down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hand, eternal in the heavens” (2Cor. 5:1). These heavenly “rooms” are the glorified bodies which obedient children of God will receive “in the twinkling of an eye” when Jesus returns. Speaking of this event, Paul wrote that Jesus will “transform our lowly body into the likeness of his glorious body” (Phip. 3:21). My friend, the glorified bodies Jesus will give us will never grow old, or sicken, or die. They are eternal, and we will live in them on an eternal new earth.
On that new earth, there will be no wickedness or natural disasters to trouble us. When God destroys sin and death, “He will make an utter end. Trouble will not rise up a second time” (Nah. 1:9). Thank God, we will have new homes (new bodies) that neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor death can ever touch. As Isaiah tells us, “God will wipe away tears from all faces, and He will take away the reproach of His people from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, ‘Behold! this is our God! We have waited for Him!’ ” (Isa. 25:8–9).
My friend, if you are unprepared to meet God in peace, don’t hesitate to turn to Him now while He is speaking to you. Let the salvation of your soul dwarf all other interests in this life, for if you are not given a part on the new earth, you will be given a part with the damned and be cast “into the eternal flame that is prepared for the Accuser and his angels.” Judgment is coming, and God has forewarned us that the new earth is prepared only for those who are faithful to His Son, Jesus Christ. My prayer is that we will all be faithful and that we will meet someday in that beautiful “city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”