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Thread: The New Heavens & New Earth: The New Covenant

  1. #1

    The New Heavens & New Earth: The New Covenant

    For your Scriptural study and consideration.

    In another thread, some individuals asked me why I interpret 2 Peter 3 as having already been fulfilled. I gave a warning beforehand that I would have to compile my written notes into a typed form in order to put it here, and that the end result would likely be very long. (It's just under 9 pages in my word processor right now).

    In determination to provide a response for the question I have been asked, I will post my notes/study here. I sincerely apologize for the length, especially after my previous thread required a seven-post OP. However, in order to present my answer, I'm afraid I can't really cut anything down, lest I lose some form of communication in the process.

    _________________________________


    When the reader reaches Revelation 21, the first few verses commonly prompt an interpretation such that John is seeing a new physical universe. But I consider it more probable that John is, instead, referring to the “new world” of the New Covenant. Rather than simply reading the passage at face value and leaving it at that, or grasping at air for a less than obvious perspective, this is based on Scriptural study.

    First and foremost to be considered by many is John’s obvious reliance upon Isaiah 65-66. However, before going to that obvious choice, I suggest we first read Isaiah 51.9-16. We find there the following details:
    • Egypt (“Rahab”: Isaiah 30.7) is destroyed [51.9]
    • The sea is dried up for “the redeemed to pass over” [51.10]
    • God “stretched out the heavens” and “laid the foundations of the earth” [51.13]
    • God gave his “words in [their] mouth”, calling them “[his] people” [51.16]

    This is clearly a description of the Exodus: God defeats Egypt, he parts the Red Sea for his people to cross, he forms the Israelite nation and called them “[his] people”, and gave them his “words”, being the Law of the Covenant. But this event is also described as the time when God “stretched out of the heavens” and “laid the foundations of the earth” [51.13], as “establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth” [51.16]. To put it simply, the Exodus is described as a creation event; when God established the Old Covenant, he also established a “new heavens and new earth”.

    The most obvious question is ask is: Why is the giving of the Covenant described as the establishing of the heavens and earth? Because, in essence, the whole world was being changed through the giving of God’s Covenant. The Israelites went from a disorganized mass of slaves, to being God’s chosen nation on the earth. They were to represent God’s standard of holiness to the world, including a Law that required them to bring sacrifices and offerings to God. God wasn’t to be approached in a blind free-for-all; worship and obedience to God was to be orderly and communal.

    Keeping this “Covenant creation” symbolism in mind when we turn to Isaiah 65-66, it must be considered at least possible that Isaiah is prophesying about another “Covenant creation” event similar to the previous one, rather than an actual re-creation of the physical universe. More specifically, Isaiah may very well have been prophesying about the giving of the New Covenant. If, for the sake of the study, this concept is assumed by the reader, one begins to find several correlations between Isaiah’s symbolic “Covenant creation” imagery and what Jesus and his Apostles state about the New Covenant.
    • Isaiah 65.17: The establishment of the New Covenant itself (per the precedent of Isaiah 51.9-16).
    • Isaiah 65.18-19: Galatians 4.26; Hebrews 12.22; Revelation 21
    • Isaiah 65.23: 1 Corinthians 15.58
    • Isaiah 65.25: Hebrews 12.22; Luke 10.19
    • Isaiah 66.1-6: 1 Timothy 3.15; Ephesians 2.19-22
    • Isaiah 66.8: Galatians 4.26
    • Isaiah 66.10: Hebrews 12.22-23
    • Isaiah 66.11: Matthew 5.6
    • Isaiah 66.12: John 14.27
    • Isaiah 66.15-17: Matthew 22.7
    • Isaiah 66.18: Matthew 8.11
    • Isaiah 66.19: Ephesians 3.8; Colossians 1.27
    • Isaiah 66.20: Romans 15.16
    • Isaiah 66.21: 1 Peter 2.9
    • Isaiah 66.22: Hebrews 12.25-28

    Through this we find many parallels between Isaiah’s prophecies and the founding of the New Covenant, along with the dissolution of the Old Covenant. These are particularly strong in prophecies concerning the imminent destruction of the nation of Judea. The connection of the “new heavens and new earth” to the foundation of the New Covenant is readily apparent. This is supplemented by Paul’s declaration that Christians are a “new creation” [2 Corinthians 5.17; Galatians 6.16; Ephesians 2.10; 4.24] In other words, those who enter into the “new heavens and new earth” (the New Covenant) likewise become part of that “new creation”. (Compare, for instance, Revelation 3.14.)

    This ultimately means that the Old Covenant was the “old heavens and old earth” parallel to Isaiah’s New Covenant “new heavens and new earth”. Since the establishment of the New Covenant is a “Covenant creation” event, then the passing away of the Old Covenant would thusly be a “Covenant decreation” event. A common example is found in Matthew 24.35; this passage is widely interpreted as Jesus’ prediction of the end of the physical universe at his Second Coming. However, it can readily be shown that the decreation language of Matthew 24.29 was a prophecy concerning the destruction of the nation of Judea in 70 AD, and that the “cloud” language of Matthew 24.30 was a prophecy that Judea’s destruction was to be attributed to Jesus Christ as divine judgment (thus showing him to be God, and not merely a human prophet).

    But, by context, the “passing away” of heaven and earth is also restricted to that “this generation” time frame. If the the non-literal “Covenant creation” and “decreation” language, as established by Isaiah, is dismissed when we arrive at Matthew 24.35, the verse becomes problematic because of its relation to the “this generation” prophecy Jesus spoke the verse before. But if we remember Isaiah’s “Covenant creation” in Isaiah 51, then Christ’s prophecy makes total sense, especially when we recognized that Christ borrowed his decreation language from Isaiah back in verse 24.29. In other words, Christ expects his listener/reader to be familiar with the hyperbole-language of Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets. Like it or not, knowing and understanding the Old Testament prophets is absolutely necessary for knowing and understanding Christ’s prophecy in the Olivet Discourse. Using the old prophets (and Isaiah in particular) as our template and precedent, it looks to be that Christ was prophesying about the end of the nation of Judea and the end of the Old Covenant world system; “heaven and earth” were to pass away in 70 AD, along with Herod’s Temple, as Jesus had predicted in Matthew 24.1-2.

    Half of the prophecies Christ gave in the Olivet Discourse were referring to the “Covenant curses” of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28; God promised to bring these “Covenant curses” upon Israel as divine judgment, should the nation as a whole become apostate, and Christ was reiterating them because the time for the fulfillment of those promises had come. The next portion of Christ’s prophetic utterances contains the common decreation language, the well-established Old Testament hyperbole language used to describe God’s judgment within history, not at the end of history. The apparent contradiction between the time restriction of “this generation” (when it is read in the most natural sense, rather than redefining any of the words to suit the reader’s presuppositions) and the passing away of “heaven and earth” is avoided when one recognizes the Old Testament basis of Christ’s prophecies in Matthew 24.

    With the realization that the judgment upon apostate Israel and the dissolution of the Old Covenant in 70 AD are fulfillments of the Law itself as according to God’s “Covenant curses” in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, difficult passages becomes significantly more comprehensible. When we come across a verse such as Matthew 5.18, where Christ claims that “heaven and earth” will only pass away when the Law is fulfilled, there is no need to extend this into the distant future. We, as Christians, know that Christ brought about the New Covenant as told of by the old prophets. Christ “renewed and fulfilled the Covenant between God and Israel”. What we mean is this: the Old Covenant promised a Messiah who would bring us salvation and fulfill the Law.

    Using the Old Testament to clarify the decreation language, we see how the Law was “fulfilled” in Christ. His sinless life, atoning death, resurrection from the dead, and ascension to the right hand of God were all a fulfillment of the Law regarding the sacrificial offering to God for the sins of mankind. Jesus Christ absolutely brought salvation for man, and that that was the single most important event in history is irrefutable. Make no mistake, by putting attributing significance to 70 AD I am not taking away from the centrality of the cross. But with the rejection of the Son of God and the Covenant of God by majority of Israel, God (by his nature) was necessarily required to keep his promises of the Law, being that he would unleash his Covenant curses upon the apostates. Christ’s prophecies in Matthew 24 closely resemble the Covenant curses precisely because Christ was predicting their fulfillment in the near future.

    With the destruction of the nation of Judea, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple of Herod, the Old Covenant came to its definitive end; not only because it could no longer be practiced by the apostates who clung to it, but because it came to its end with the fulfillment of God’s promises. Thus, with the fulfillment of the Law in that time of judgment, the Old Covenant “heaven and earth” passed away, as Christ said in Matthew 5.18. This time frame is perfectly corroborated by what we found before in Matthew 24.35. (In addition, his statement that heaven and earth would “pass away”, but his own words would not, still makes sense. With “heaven and earth” referring to the Old Covenant system of the temple priesthood and sacrifices, and his “words” referring to the New Covenant system of just Jesus, we’re left in a frame of time that follows 70 AD.)

    We must realize that Jesus was not speaking in a cultural vacuum, but rather with the well-known language of the Old prophets. I can’t stress that point enough: what Christ prophesies in the Olivet Discourse was not new to his audience; it was deeply rooted in the Old Testament prophets. The Jews of his day would have recognized instantly his words to be the exact same hyperbole-language used by the Old Testament prophets. This necessitates the examination of several other passages that use creation/decreation language in the New Testament. If we don't use the Old Testament to interpret the New Testament, we would only end up "speculating and coming up with ridiculous conjectures".

    In Acts 2.19-21, the Apostle Peter quotes from Joel 2.30-32, claiming that Joel had been prophesying about the foundation of the Church. Joel’s description of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place in 30 AD on Pentecost, but this puts the fulfillment of Joel’s decreation prophecy in the near future. In the same way that Jesus’ decreation prophecy was about the destruction of Judea in 70 AD, applying Joel’s prophecy to that event makes the most sense chronologically and contextually. We aren’t left performing linguistic gymnastics to figure out that the “former rain” was this, and the “latter rain” was that, or that what Peter was saying was only a lesser fulfillment while there was yet to come a greater future fulfillment, etc. No, instead, we just leave it at what Peter said: Joel 2.30-32 was a prophecy of what was happening at that time, not another one.

    In Hebrews 8.13, writing at about 65-67 AD, the author claims that although the New Covenant had already come, the Old Covenant was still existent, yet it was about to pass away. Since 70 AD, the time when the Old Covenant temple, priesthood, and sacrifices came to their end, was in the author’s near future, his prediction in Hebrews 8.13 makes most sense, I believe, when read in that context. The Old Covenant still existed in the form of the still-standing temple system, but it was about to pass away because the temple system was about to be removed permanently. This takes us forward to Hebrews 12.25-29, where the writer claims that God was about to “shake” the heavens and the earth, with only the Kingdom of God remaining through the shaking. This is another example of the decreation language, albeit to a lesser degree of intensity. But even still, it subtly alludes back to Isaiah 66.22, which is the context of how the “new heavens and new earth” would be the New Covenant. The Church had received the Kingdom of God already, the author says, but there would be a “shaking” of heaven and earth in the near future, with the Kingdom of God being what survived through it. The time frame and general sentiment seems quite similar to what Christ said in Luke 21.31-33.

  2. #2
    Before we can return to Revelation 21, there is one more passage to consider: 2 Peter 3.7-13. The general method of interpretation is, “Peter describes the destruction of the physical universe in great deal, so it must be literal.” In sharp contrast, I think this decreation/creation passage is probably the most misunderstood, and there are many misconceptions to tackle to determine what the proper understanding may be. As such, it will require a much lengthier exegesis than the previous passages.

    First and foremost, verse 2 Peter 3.8 is not a claim that Jesus’ coming had been “delayed” or “postponed” for a few thousand years, nor is it a claim that Jesus’ coming had originally been planned to take place after a few thousand years. The common interpretation is that Peter was claiming that, since “one day is as a thousand years” to God, therefore when the Bible says that Jesus’ coming was “soon” or “at hand”, it was “soon” and “at hand” in God’s perception of time, not man’s. This interpretation immediately brings four questions to my mind:
    1. If Peter was claiming that Jesus’ coming had always been planned for a few thousand years in the future: If the Bible is God’s revelation to man, and it is written in man’s language so that man can understand it, and that God has used man’s perception of time throughout the Bible as a whole, why should we believe that God would switch up his method of revelation without first telling us? Isn’t God not the god of confusion? [1 Corinthians 14.33] In other words, why would God tell man in man’s language that Jesus’ coming was “soon” and “at hand” without clarifying that these statements were according to God’s perception of time? Wouldn’t that be confusing, especially for those Christians who received such promises before Peter wrote this statement of alleged clarification?
    2. If Peter was claiming that Jesus’ coming had been “delayed” or “postponed”: How could this idea possibly be reconciled to God’s method of prophecy throughout the Bible? The coming of Jesus would literally be the only time that God essentially says, “Oh, we’re not ready yet? Better put it on hold.” This type of view sees the Second Coming of Jesus as always being “imminent”… except even then they don’t use the proper definition of the word “imminent”. The word “imminent” does not mean “could happen at anytime”. The word “imminent” means soon, at hand, about to happen. Not only is redefining “imminent” to mean “perpetually imminent” linguistically dishonest, it makes no sense for us to trust prophecy teachers anymore. In other words, if we can’t trust that the coming was “near”, “soon” and “at hand” when the Apostles said it, how can we possibly trust modern prophecy teachers when they say it is “soon” today? Besides, isn’t this idea that the coming was “delayed” a complete contradiction of Hebrews 10.37?
    3. If Peter was claiming that “one day” equals a thousand years of history in God’s perception of time: I have found from personal experience that the majority of people who hold to this view are internally inconsistent with it. The idea is that 1000 years to us equates to “one day” in God’s eyes. Hence, the coming of Christ is “soon”… to God. If this is a valid interpretation of what Peter meant, we should be able to apply it to other passages of Scripture. For example, the six days of Genesis 1. Each “day” was actually 1000 years, and hence, the “creation week” took 6000 years, and God rested for another 1000 years. Or how about the thousand year reign of the saints in Revelation 20? Peter not only says that “one day” to God is a thousand years history, but that “a thousand years” to God is also one day of history. Hence, the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is really only one 24-hour time frame within history. Obviously, these two interpretations are entirely arbitrary, but so is the one claimed above about the coming of Christ. The point isn’t that this couldn’t possibly be the case, the point is that they apply the “rule” arbitrarily when it suits their presuppositions. Now, putting aside the fact Peter was not making a “prophetic rule” that 1 day = 1000 years (and vice versa), and putting aside the fact that Peter is clearly making a simile with the word “as”… this view requires ignoring the fact that Peter was citing from one of the Psalms. Psalm 90.4 says that, to God, “a thousand years” are “as yesterday” (24 hours) and “as a watch in the night” (roughly 3-4 hours). To put it simply, using the same logic from the interpretation in question, 1000 years = 1 day = 3-4 hours. Obviously, this is complete nonsense.

    If Peter was claiming that Christ’s coming was not for another couple of thousand years, why in the world would he tell his readers that he is reminding them of what he wrote to them in his first letter? [2 Peter 3.1-2] And what was it he said in his first letter? “The end of all things is at hand.” [1 Peter 4.7] Why would he remind his readers of this if the statement was no longer true? The point Peter was making was that God works on his own time table, not on man’s expectations. He was saying this to contradict the “scoffers” he mentioned earlier in the chapter. God was apparently slow to fulfill the promise of his coming because, as he says in 2 Peter 3.9, God was working to save as many people as were possible to save.

    In 2 Peter 3.10 the Apostle refers to the imminent event as the “Day of the LORD”. This was a common label in the Old Testament applied to periods of judgment within history (as opposed to the end of history). There was never a single, solitary “Day of the LORD” in the Bible. There were many, spanning centuries. Isaiah refers to the destruction of Babylon in 539 BC as the “Day of the LORD”. Jeremiah calls the destruction of Egypt in 567 BC as another “Day of the LORD”. Ezekiel refers to the destruction of the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 587 BC as yet one more “Day of the LORD”. Amos says that the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC was the “Day of the LORD”. These times of judgment called “Day of the LORD” are found throughout history and they always referred to the time when a nation had received God’s divine judgment. It was never a single, individual day at the end of time. By keeping this fact in mind, we must recognize the time frame in which Peter was writing: right before the time when Judea received God’s divine judgment.

    Continuing on, we see that Peter says that the Day of the LORD will come “like a thief”. Somehow this “like a thief” metaphor has come to be applied to a pretribulational, premillennial, invisible rapture of the Church. But even a quick survey of the phrase will reveal that it is nowhere applied to a rapture of the Church, but to the sudden and unexpected arrival of destruction. In Matthew 24.36-44, Jesus applies the “like a thief” metaphor to the destruction of Judea in 70 AD. The signs would be clear as day, Jesus says; the saints would be prophesying, but the wicked would ignore them, satisfied in themselves, and then destruction would come upon them suddenly and unexpected.

    In 1 Thessalonians 5.1-4, Paul (also referring to the imminent “Day of the LORD”, like Peter) says that it “will come like a thief in the night” (just like Peter). Paul elaborates: “sudden destruction will come upon them”. He goes on to say, “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief”, in complete agreement with Jesus Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24. Paul was referring to the same event that Christ was: the destruction of Judea in 70 AD. Since Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 3 so closely resembles Paul’s, and Paul’s so closely resembles Christ’s, I find no reason to doubt that Peter, Paul and Christ were all three prophesying about the destruction of Judea in 70 AD.


    Two more examples of the “thief” metaphor can be found in the Revelation. In Revelation 3.3, Jesus explicitly uses it in reference as a warning of imminent judgment for the church of Sardis. He later uses it in Revelation 16.15, referring to John’s symbolic depiction of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The “like a thief” metaphor never refers to a pretribulational, premillennial, invisible rapture. It always refers to imminent destruction. We have two indications so far in Peter’s decreation prophecy…
    1. The “Day of the LORD” is used multiple times in Scripture to refer to several different time periods of God’s judgment upon (a) nation(s) within history. Judea in 70 AD would be just one more in the long line of the multiple “Day(s) of the LORD”. Nothing about the term of the “Day of the LORD” requires that Peter be referring to end of time.
    2. The “like a thief” metaphor is consistently used in the New Testament to refer only to sudden and unexpected judgment, as opposed to the common idea of the pretribulational, premillennial, invisible rapture. All other instances point to God’s judgment on Judea in 70 AD.

    … that Peter is not referring to the end of the physical universe, but instead to the judgment upon Judea in 70 AD in his immediate future.

    Next, Peter says that “the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be burned up and dissolved”. When many read of the “elements”, it is widely assumed that Peter is referring to the physical elements of the universe (wood, stone, etc.), or even to the “elements” of the physical universe (atoms and sub-atomic particles). But in order to really understand what Peter is referring to, we must delve into the Greek text. The word that Peter uses for “elements” is the Greek word στοιχειον (stoicheion), which is only ever used in the New Testament to refer to the “elements” of the Old Covenant.

    In Galatians 4.3, Paul speaks of how we “were enslaved to the elements of the world”, which he identifies as the Old Covenant Law itself in verse 5. In Galatians 4.9 he says “how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elements of the world”. He continues in the following verse, “You observe days and months and seasons and years”, a clear reference to the festival laws of the Old Covenant. In Colossians 2.8, Paul exhorts, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ.” In the following verses he goes on to contrast the condemning effects of the Old Covenant Law and traditions against the salvation of Jesus Christ. In Colossians 2.20 he goes on to say, “If with Christ you died to the elements of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations”, and the next verse says, “‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’”, plainly referring to cleanliness-commands of the Old Covenant Law.

    Lastly, in Hebrews 5.12, the writer says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God.” The following verses (leading into the next chapter) clarify that these “elements” are “instructions about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment”, all things which are basic teachings from the Old Covenant Law [Acts 17.12]. We see that στοιχειον in the New Testament always refers to the Old Covenant Law. It would be a terrible inconsistency for us to interpret Peter as meaning something entirely different from what Paul and the author of Hebrews establish for us (especially since Peter directly refers to Paul’s letters only a few sentences later). When Peter says that the “elements” will be burned up and dissolved, we should understand that he is referring to the Old Covenant “elements”, not the physical substance of the world.

    Thus, when Peter expects a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”, he is looking forward to the full replacement of the Old Covenant by the New Covenant (via the Old Covenant’s dissolution with the permanent dissolution of the temple building, the priesthood, and the repeated sacrifices). Since the New Covenant so drastically altered the way in which man communes with God (through Christ, and not the temple/priesthood/sacrifices), it is seen as the passing away of an “old world”, and being replaced by a “new world”.

    With this in mind, several of Peter’s other statements make far more sense with an imminent fulfillment looming over the recipients of the letter. Peter rebukes the scoffers who claim that Christ’s judgment coming wouldn’t happen in their lifetime like Jesus and his Apostles had predicted. [2 Peter 3.3-7] Peter admonishes his contemporary generation to live righteously in light of the imminent judgment [2 Peter 3.11,14], lest they get caught up in the outpouring of Christ’s wrath (the same warning Christ send to Pergamum, Sardis and Philadelphia, in Revelation 2.16, 3.3 and 3.11).This also explains Peter’s comparison to the flood of Noah’s day. Peter doesn’t use this comparison because it was a global catastrophe; he uses it the same way that Jesus did, in comparison to the divine judgment of Judea in that generation’s lifetime. The destruction of Judea and the Second Temple would be completely unexpected by the wicked (and hence the “scoffers”).

    This takes us back to where we started: Revelation 21. We know that it is using Isaiah 65-66 for some of its imagery, as well as some of Isaiah 60. At the beginning we saw that the prophecies of Isaiah 65-66 overwhelmingly corresponded to Scripture’s descriptions of the New Covenant. As such, might also Revelation 21? John’s description of the new Jerusalem is seen to be an allegorical description for the Church itself. (I will simply recommend that the reader compare all of Revelation 21 to: 2 Corinthians 6.16-18; Galatians 4.21-31; Ephesians 2.19-22; Hebrews 12.22-24. Compare these together, and you will find a consistent pattern emerges, in which the new Jerusalem is described exactly the same as how the Church itself is described.) Since “the Church” is simply the New Testament name for God’s Covenant people (Jew and Gentile alike), it is not difficult to consider that John is describing the present, rather than solely the future.

    I say that John’s vision is not “solely the future”, because John does indicate to us that there are things we still await fulfillment on. Whereas Isaiah 65-66 indicates the existence of death ongoing (hence the present New Covenant era, in which people still physically die), John’s vision presents death as non-existent. This ultimately brings us to the common “already-not yet” teaching found in many “amillennial” groups. This is to say, Revelation 21 reveals to us something is ultimately future for us (following the Second Coming of Christ), but which we presently “taste in” because we are already in Christ. Compare this to the issue of salvation. We “already” have salvation and eternal life. [Ephesians 2.5; 1 John 5.11] But we also “not yet” have salvation and eternal life. [Hebrews 9.28; Romans 2.6-7]

    The “old heavens and old earth”, referring to the Old Covenant, passed away with the temple system in 70 AD. And this is what was being referred to by the likes of Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, the author of Hebrews, etc. However, the “new heavens and new earth” began breaking in upon us in 30 AD with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. We are already in the prophesied “new heavens and new earth”, but we are not yet received the fullness of that promise. We still await the physical redemption of creation itself, alongside the redemption of our bodies, as was described in Romans 8.18-25.

  3. #3
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    Just now printed this off, and going now to study it closely. Thank you! I know you have put a lot of time and study and thought into this. What little I have read makes me want to read it through to the finish line.

    Going now. To what looks like a good study!
    My favorite scripture: Malachi 3:16

    "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name!" (Every time we speak of the Lord, or even THINK of him--its written down in a book of remembrance!)

  4. #4
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    This was a great study: I fully agree with you.

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    To put it simply, the Exodus is described as a creation event; when God established the Old Covenant, also established a "new heavens and new earth".

    ...

    Since the New Covenant so drastically altered the way in which man communes with God (through Christ, and not the temple/priesthood/sacrifices), it is seen as the passing away of an "old world", and being replaced by a "new world".
    Here I'd like to suggest my own understanding of the phrase "new heavens and new earth". It's not so much that the way man communes with God has been forever changed for the better (this is true, praise His name!), but that, like how the creation account in Genesis 1 is about God assembling a dwelling place, so too the Mosaic covenant was given for God to find a resting place (which was found faulty), as was Christ's covenant (which stands for all ages). We have been assembled in Christ, in God rests in our midst: thus, we are a new creation, and the new covenant has brought about new heavens and a new earth. What do you think?

    Blessings buddy!
    analyze. synthesize. repeat.

    *It is the next chapter of my life, whether I'm ready or not. My time here in these forums has come to its close. I bless you as I go!*

  5. #5
    That's a good point, too. The redemption of God's creation isn't Scripturally required to be a physical re-creation (i.e. God causing the current universe to not-exist, and then creating a whole new universe).

    When the Second Temple was desecrated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Jews didn't need to tear down the temple and build a new one... it was reconsecrated by cleaning it out and anointing it anew. In this same way, when the whole of the physical creation is redeemed, the Second Coming of Christ would be the ultimate reconsecration of God's Cosmos-Temple.

  6. #6
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    Markedward: This is clearly a description of the Exodus: God defeats Egypt, he parts the Red Sea for his people to cross, he forms the Israelite nation and called them “[his] people”, and gave them his “words”, being the Law of the Covenant. But this event is also described as the time when God “stretched out of the heavens” and “laid the foundations of the earth” [51.13], as “establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth” [51.16]. To put it simply, the Exodus is described as a creation event; when God established the Old Covenant, he also established a “new heavens and new earth”.
    I don't see Isaiah 51 as a description of the Exodus. What I see is God reminiscence of the Red Sea event and also another reminiscence of the creation event. The passage seems to be a prediction and an encouragement to captive Israel that God will bring them out of exile.

  7. #7
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    Markedward, this study for me is a first. I admit I had never considered this all in the way you have presented it. But, it sure does fill in lots of missing pieces to the puzzle I have worked on so many years. There just seemed to be pieces that I could not quite fit together.

    I do agree with your thesis.

    And Bro. Rog, God did, already 'bring them out of exile'. (Just as he does for us today.) From my studies of the Old Testament events, now that markedward has pointed out how much Isaiah 51 describes the Exodus...it seems to fit to me.

    Now I can see clearly another LARGE reason there will never be another temple, or sacrifices offered, etc. Its all in and through and about the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ Jesus at that old cross on Calvary!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diggindeeper View Post
    Markedward, this study for me is a first. I admit I had never considered this all in the way you have presented it. But, it sure does fill in lots of missing pieces to the puzzle I have worked on so many years. There just seemed to be pieces that I could not quite fit together.

    I do agree with your thesis.

    And Bro. Rog, God did, already 'bring them out of exile'. (Just as he does for us today.) From my studies of the Old Testament events, now that markedward has pointed out how much Isaiah 51 describes the Exodus...it seems to fit to me.

    Now I can see clearly another LARGE reason there will never be another temple, or sacrifices offered, etc. Its all in and through and about the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ Jesus at that old cross on Calvary!
    Judah was in exile in Babylon at the time of writing of Isaiah.

  9. #9
    That's... not true.

    Isaiah was writing in the late 8th-century BC and the early 7th-century BC.

    Judah went into exile in 6th-century BC, over 100 years later.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    When the reader reaches Revelation 21, the first few verses commonly prompt an interpretation such that John is seeing a new physical universe. But I consider it more probable that John is, instead, referring to the “new world” of the New Covenant. Rather than simply reading the passage at face value and leaving it at that, or grasping at air for a less than obvious perspective, this is based on Scriptural study.
    What about Revelation 21 itself? I understand that some of the language regarding the new covenant is similar to the language describing the new heavens and new earth but I believe you're taking that too far. When John describes the new heavens and new earth he said, "the first heaven and the first earth were passed away". The first earth did not pass way in any way, shape or form in 70 AD. It's still here. It doesn't say "first covenant", it says "first earth". Another thing John says about the conditions that would be found in the new heavens and new earth is that "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.". People are still dying and experiencing sorrow and pain, so the new heavens and new earth have not yet been ushered in.

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward
    In 1 Thessalonians 5.1-4, Paul (also referring to the imminent “Day of the LORD”, like Peter) says that it “will come like a thief in the night” (just like Peter). Paul elaborates: “sudden destruction will come upon them”. He goes on to say, “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief”, in complete agreement with Jesus Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24. Paul was referring to the same event that Christ was: the destruction of Judea in 70 AD. Since Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 3 so closely resembles Paul’s, and Paul’s so closely resembles Christ’s, I find no reason to doubt that Peter, Paul and Christ were all three prophesying about the destruction of Judea in 70 AD.
    Do you believe 1 Thess 5:1-4 is directly related to the verses that come directly before it (1 Thess 4:13-18)? If so, do you believe 1 Thess 4:14-17 is already fulfilled as well?

    If Paul was talking in that passage about the destruction of Judea in 70 AD then why would he be warning the church in Thessalonica about that? He indicated that it would not overtake them because they were not in spiritual darkness. It seems that you would say it would not overtake them because they were not in Judea. Can you address this?

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward
    Thus, when Peter expects a “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”, he is looking forward to the full replacement of the Old Covenant by the New Covenant (via the Old Covenant’s dissolution with the permanent dissolution of the temple building, the priesthood, and the repeated sacrifices). Since the New Covenant so drastically altered the way in which man communes with God (through Christ, and not the temple/priesthood/sacrifices), it is seen as the passing away of an “old world”, and being replaced by a “new world”.
    Are you suggesting the the new covenant was not in effect until 70 AD? If so, I completely disagree. It was put in effect at the cross by the shed blood of Christ. Also, if Peter was speaking of the old covenant and new covenant then why wouldn't he have just called them the old and new covenant (or first and second covenant) like it does everywhere else in scripture? Was he trying to be purposely confusing by referring to the new covenant as the new heavens and new earth? Why not just call it the new covenant?

    With this in mind, several of Peter’s other statements make far more sense with an imminent fulfillment looming over the recipients of the letter. Peter rebukes the scoffers who claim that Christ’s judgment coming wouldn’t happen in their lifetime like Jesus and his Apostles had predicted. [2 Peter 3.3-7] Peter admonishes his contemporary generation to live righteously in light of the imminent judgment [2 Peter 3.11,14], lest they get caught up in the outpouring of Christ’s wrath (the same warning Christ send to Pergamum, Sardis and Philadelphia, in Revelation 2.16, 3.3 and 3.11).This also explains Peter’s comparison to the flood of Noah’s day.
    Why would people in Asian provinces need to be concerned about being caught up in judgment brought upon Jerusalem?

    Peter doesn’t use this comparison because it was a global catastrophe; he uses it the same way that Jesus did, in comparison to the divine judgment of Judea in that generation’s lifetime. The destruction of Judea and the Second Temple would be completely unexpected by the wicked (and hence the “scoffers”).
    I completely disagree with this. Let's look at 2 Peter 3:3-7.

    3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
    4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?
    for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
    5For 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:
    6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
    7But 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.

    First of all, it should be clear that "the world that then was" refers to the world as it was at the time of the flood. Agree? So, he's not referring to the old covenant there and contrasting it to the new covenant. There's no basis for seeing it that way. He's contrasting "the world that then was" in the time of the flood to "the heavens and the earth, which are now" (in 60 AD or so). What did he say about "the world that then was"? It was overflowed with water and perished. The entire earth was overflowed with water and all the people on the earth, except Noah and his family, perished. In contrast to this Peter said, "the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire".

    Now, I doubt anyone would argue that verse 6 is not referring to literal, physical water or that the world is not referring to the entire earth. So, what basis is there for thinking that "the heavens and the earth, which are now" are not also referring to the literal heavens and earth? It says by the same word that "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" that "the heavens and the earth, which are now" are "reserved unto fire". Since we know the water was literal, physical water I see no basis for thinking the fire is not also literal fire. It will burn up the heavens, the earth and the things on it and the result of that will be the "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness". Since he specifically points out that the new heavens and new earth will be a place "wherein dwelleth righteousness" it seems to me that he's implying that it will not be a place "wherein dwelleth" wickedness. That would go along with Revelation 21:4 which indicates that in the new heavens and new earth "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.".

    So, I think you've needlessly turned something relatively simple into something very complicated. I appreciate your efforts, but I simply disagree with your conclusions.

  11. #11
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    John146,

    Well saying. Amen

    In Christ
    Rev. 22:20 -Amen!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by John146
    Are you suggesting the the new covenant was not in effect until 70 AD? If so, I completely disagree.
    Hurrah for reading selectively:

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward
    The New Heavens & New Earth: The New Covenant
    Quote Originally Posted by markedward
    However, the “new heavens and new earth” began breaking in upon us in 30 AD with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins.
    If you have a problem with me claiming that the New Covenant began in 30 AD, while the Old Covenant didn't disappear until 70 AD, you still have to answer to Hebrews 8.13, which says the basic same thing, just without the specific dates I have assigned to it... namely, that the two Covenants overlapped for a brief period.

    Quote Originally Posted by John146
    People are still dying and experiencing sorrow and pain, so the new heavens and new earth have not yet been ushered in.
    You're just masterful at reading selectively:

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward
    I say that John’s vision is not “solely the future”, because John does indicate to us that there are things we still await fulfillment on. Whereas Isaiah 65-66 indicates the existence of death ongoing (hence the present New Covenant era, in which people still physically die), John’s vision presents death as non-existent. This ultimately brings us to the common “already-not yet” teaching found in many “amillennial” groups. This is to say, Revelation 21 reveals to us something is ultimately future for us (following the Second Coming of Christ), but which we presently “taste in” because we are already in Christ. Compare this to the issue of salvation. We “already” have salvation and eternal life. [Ephesians 2.5; 1 John 5.11] But we also “not yet” have salvation and eternal life. [Hebrews 9.28; Romans 2.6-7]

    The “old heavens and old earth”, referring to the Old Covenant, passed away with the temple system in 70 AD. And this is what was being referred to by the likes of Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, the author of Hebrews, etc. However, the “new heavens and new earth” began breaking in upon us in 30 AD with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. We are already in the prophesied “new heavens and new earth”, but we are not yet received the fullness of that promise. We still await the physical redemption of creation itself, alongside the redemption of our bodies, as was described in Romans 8.18-25.
    Quote Originally Posted by John146
    If Paul was talking in that passage about the destruction of Judea in 70 AD
    And regarding this... you've done this twice now. You ignored my response to this last time, too. I said before (in another thread) that the events leading up to and culminating in the "Day of the LORD" in 70 AD involved more than just Judea. Judea was the focal point of God's judgment, but there were still events going on around the world that had a bearing on those events. Wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, and persecutions of Christians throughout the Empire. You're trying to take one thing and claim that I said that that was all there is to it. Which it isn't. The destruction of Judea was the culmination, but that doesn't diminish the gravity of the other events alongside it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    Hurrah for reading selectively:
    Your post(s) was very long. So, I don't think you should be offended that I missing something you said. I asked a question for clarification, but you're acting like I made a definitive statement.

    And regarding this... you've done this twice now. You ignored my response to this last time, too. I said before (in another thread) that the events leading up to and culminating in the "Day of the LORD" in 70 AD involved more than just Judea. Judea was the focal point of God's judgment, but there were still events going on around the world that had a bearing on those events. Wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, and persecutions of Christians throughout the Empire. You're trying to take one thing and claim that I said that that was all there is to it. Which it isn't. The destruction of Judea was the culmination, but that doesn't diminish the gravity of the other events alongside it.
    But we're talking about 1 Thess 5 in particular. It speaks of sudden destruction coming down. You said this:

    Quote Originally Posted by You
    Paul elaborates: “sudden destruction will come upon them”. He goes on to say, “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief”, in complete agreement with Jesus Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24. Paul was referring to the same event that Christ was: the destruction of Judea in 70 AD. the destruction was upon Judea in 70 AD.
    Paul told the Thessalonian believers that that day of destruction would not overtake them as a thief. So, with that in mind why would he have told that to them if the destruction was not going to take place in Thessalonica but rather in Judea? Your previous responses did not answer this question.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by John146 View Post
    Your post(s) was very long. So, I don't think you should be offended that I missing something you said.
    The last two paragraphs? I can understand missing something in the middle, but this was literally the very end. Did you skim that last part, or skip it entirely, or... what? I'm not offended, I'm just confused as to how you could have completely missed an entire two paragraphs.

    Paul told the Thessalonian believers that that day of destruction would not overtake them as a thief. So, with that in mind why would he have told that to them if the destruction was not going to take place in Thessalonica but rather in Judea? Your previous responses did not answer this question.
    Like I said before: "Judea was the focal point of God's judgment ... but that doesn't diminish the gravity of the other events alongside it." It's the same as when Christ told the church in Sardis, If they didn't repent, he would personally come against them ("like a thief") in judgment. This looming punishment was set in the same time frame as the punishment upon Judea. Judea was the focal point, but any churches that were unrepentant as well, Christ would allow to get caught up in his wrath. I don't mean that the church in Sardis or Thessalonica arbitrarily went to Jerusalem and received judgment there, or that the Roman troops at Jerusalem went and sought out Sardis or Thessalonica... simply that, while Christ's judgment was being poured out upon Jerusalem, unrepentant churches would be facing their own judgments in whatever manner Christ decided to dispense it, whether by allowing them to be arrested, mobbed, earthquake, whatever. I trust that Christ carried out his promises when he said he would do it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    The last two paragraphs? I can understand missing something in the middle, but this was literally the very end. Did you skim that last part, or skip it entirely, or... what? I'm not offended, I'm just confused as to how you could have completely missed an entire two paragraphs.
    I'm not going to argue about this with you. If you don't want to accept that I was unclear on your position and that's why I asked the question then I can't help that. Did you notice I asked a question instead of making an accusation? Does that make no difference to you?

    Like I said before: "Judea was the focal point of God's judgment ... but that doesn't diminish the gravity of the other events alongside it." It's the same as when Christ told the church in Sardis, If they didn't repent, he would personally come against them ("like a thief") in judgment. This looming punishment was set in the same time frame as the punishment upon Judea. Judea was the focal point, but any churches that were unrepentant as well, Christ would allow to get caught up in his wrath. I don't mean that the church in Sardis or Thessalonica arbitrarily went to Jerusalem and received judgment there, or that the Roman troops at Jerusalem went and sought out Sardis or Thessalonica... simply that, while Christ's judgment was being poured out upon Jerusalem, unrepentant churches would be facing their own judgments in whatever manner Christ decided to dispense it, whether by allowing them to be arrested, mobbed, earthquake, whatever. I trust that Christ carried out his promises when he said he would do it.
    You seem to be avoiding my point. Can you show me any real evidence that the sudden destruction Paul talked about had anything specifically to do with Thessalonica? You said yourself that "the destruction was upon Judea in 70 AD". Now you're saying the destruction went beyond that? Again, where is the evidence of that?

    You've been criticizing me for being selective in what I address from your posts. Maybe I can say the same towards you then? I wonder why it is that you didn't address the bulk of what I said in post #10?

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