Thursday, 27 February 2020
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13
In the Greek, the stress is not on “we,” but on “new.” A direct translation would be, “New, however, heaven and earth new.” And more, the word translated as “new” requires further explanation.
There are two different Greek words translated into English as “new.” The first is kainos. It signifies something new in quality. One might say, “It was not seen like this before.” The second is neos. That signifies new in age. One might say, “This was not seen before.” The difference is that the first existed but has changed, whereas the second is completely different. The first is what is being referred to by Peter. The heavens and the earth are new in the sense of being the same heavens and earth, but they are completely changed.
This is also the same word used in Revelation 21:1 which speaks of “a new heaven and a new earth.” The universe is not being recreated, but rather it is refreshed to a state which did not previously exist. This is the state that Peter speaks of. And he says that it is “according to His promise.”
Peter’s words now are based on the promise of the Lord from the Old Testament. In the book of Isaiah, this state was prophesied about –
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17
He also refers to this in Isaiah 66:22. However, it must be noted that the descriptions of Isaiah and Revelation do not match entirely. For example, Isaiah 65 also says –
“No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.” Isaiah 65:20
There, Isaiah prophesies of a time when people will live to great ages, but there will be death. However, Revelation goes on to say, “
“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.” Revelation 22:3, 4
God slowly and progressively reveals His plan of redemption to man. What Isaiah foresaw was certainly the time of the millennial reign of Christ. What John saw included that time (Revelation 20), but he then goes beyond it to a time of complete renewal.
Peter’s words may (and probably do) only go as far as the millennium as prophesied by Isaiah. This is what Israel had anticipated, and it would be what Peter is speaking of. John’s revelation came later and is the final fulfillment of the plan of the ages. No matter what, the plan of redemption is now laid out in its entirety for us to know what is coming in both the millennium and into the final, eternal state.
Peter’s speaking of this new heaven and new earth, which is based upon his previous words of destruction, only align properly with the change from the current state to that of the millennial reign. There must be a destruction by fire, where things melt in heat (see Zechariah 14:12 and other OT cataclysmic passages to understand this better) in order for that to come about.
Life application: The things we treasure now will be completely burned up. Because of this, we are told time and again in the Bible to not let ourselves become attached to earthly things, nor to let them run our lives. Rather, we live here, use the world while taking care of it, but we should be willing to look beyond what we have now to that which is eternal. And God won’t fail to surprise us!
He promises new heavens and a new earth. And what He has prepared is surely beyond anything we can imagine or hope for. Best of all though, it will be an earth where righteousness dwells. Think on that for a moment… Even the things we cherish most can’t keep us happy. This is because we live in an unrighteous world.
The showy car we spend so much time on is bound to get scratched or dented by a person jealous of what we have. The large house with expensive delights in it is susceptible to robbery, leaving us with a sense of being violated. The whopping bank account we saved diligently for, and which we relied on for our “golden years,” is lost in a moment when some hacker replaces our personal information with his own. Even our unrighteous governments seize what has been earned, taking from the rightful owners and handing it over to those who haven’t worked for it.
The list can go on to everything we have, every person we love, every hope we have stored up for. In the end, this world of unrighteousness will be replaced with a world where contentment reigns, where justice is established, and where peace and joy are the hallmark of our dealings with others.
Best of all though is the prospect of sharing eternity with Jesus – the One who made it all possible. His work destroyed the devil’s work, and it allows us access once again into the paradise lost so long ago. What a great and wonderful Lord!
Yes, Lord Jesus! How wonderfully splendid will be the day when we share in Your eternal kingdom – one established in righteousness and with all the heavenly delights we once had with you at the beginning. May we never become consumed with this temporary and fallen world when that which You have prepared for us is yet future. Amen.