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Bible verses about New Heaven and New Earth
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Isaiah 40:3-4

Verse 3 mentions “preparing the way,” one that God will be traveling: “make . . . a highway for our God.” This refers to the common practice of monarchs, who, before traveling into a new place, would send a party ahead of them to make sure that the road—the way—was easily passable. This crew would open up difficult passages, level out the road, make sure that it was as straight as possible, and remove any impediments to smooth travel. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (Diodorus of Sicily) gives an account of the marches of Semiramis into Media and Persia that illustrates this practice:

In her march to Ecbatana she came to the Zarcean mountain, which, extending many furlongs, and being full of craggy precipices and deep hollows, could not be passed without taking a great compass about. Being therefore desirous of leaving an everlasting memorial of herself, as well as of shortening the way, she ordered the precipices to be digged down, and the hollows to be filled up; and at a great expense she made a shorter and more expeditious road, which to this day is called from her the road of Semiramis. Afterward she went into Persia, and all the other countries of Asia subject to her dominion; and wherever she went, she ordered the mountains and precipices to be leveled, raised causeways in the plain country, and at a great expense made the ways passable.

In the gospels, Isaiah 40:3-4 is quoted in reference to John the Baptist, because this was his calling: He was to prepare the way for the uncrowned Monarch, and he did that by preaching a message of repentance. He told the people how to straighten out their lives to be prepared when the King arrived. He told the multitudes to bear fruits that indicated true repentance and advised them to be willing to share their goods with their neighbors. He warned tax collectors to stop being crooked and not to collect any more than was legally required. He instructed soldiers to stop being crooked through intimidating people, falsely accusing, and being discontent. While John did not actually use the word “crooked,” his message, in essence, was to equalize the areas of their lives that were askew (Luke 3:4-18).

We, too, are looking forward to the arrival of the King, and so we are also called to “prepare the way” within our own lives—though not, like Semiramis, to leave an everlasting memorial to ourselves. Isaiah 40:4 describes the preparation as bringing every valley up and every mountain down to the level of the road. The crooked places have to be made straight, and the rough places smoothed.

However, this prophecy does not say that the King will not arrive until we are ready. Rather, the King will arrive at the appointed time, and whether or not we have straightened our crookedness will determine if we face His wrath or His reward when He does.

We cannot straighten the crookedness of the world, but through God's power, we can straighten our own paths. God has given us the gift of His Word, which will help us to evaluate properly whether something in our lives will make the path crooked or straight. He has given us the example and teachings of the Messiah. He has given us inspired letters. He has given us laws, statutes, judgments, reflections, proverbs, praise, prophecy, and history. He has given us specifics and principles, all of which can be used to help us consider our ways: to consider whether a word or action is sin; whether we are asserting our will against another; whether something will make our path to the Kingdom more difficult; and whether our attitudes, approaches, or activities will make someone else's path crooked.

Another thing that God has given us in His Word is hope—because we can read about the future. We know that when God's plan is complete, nothing will be crooked. God will wipe away every tear; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for—to paraphrase Revelation 21:4—the former crookedness will have been straightened out. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be new spiritual bodies, and most importantly, new hearts.

God tells us, and shows us, how to be a part of that future. Right now, our responsibility is to make our paths as straight as possible—not just for our sakes, but also for the effect it has on others.

David C. Grabbe
Crookedness


 

2 Peter 3:10-13

Even though this comes on the heels of explaining God's longsuffering, nevertheless, the end will still come, and it will catch the world by surprise. I John 2:17 likewise tells us, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

The original heavens and earth came to an end due to God's judgment on the rebellious angels. The re-created world ended in the Flood because of His judgment on the wickedness of mankind. Soon, our world will be burned up in God's judgment, replaced by new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-8), in which righteousness dwells. That is remarkable in itself—when has the world ever been described as being where righteousness dwells?

This will be a brand new thing. Because our minds are still affected by this world, even the called of God may have a hard time imagining a righteous reality. Simply put, we have become desensitized to unrighteousness. Even though we are—hopefully—not directly participating in it, our minds have still adjusted to what we observe around us; to some degree, we have all adapted to the deviant perspectives of our culture.

As a result, we, too, might scoff at times—not at the promise of Christ's return, but at the ideals of righteousness. We know that we must allow God to make Christ's righteousness our own, yet when we see someone working toward this, our carnality may scoff instead of appreciating a place where some of His righteousness dwells. Christ's righteousness in others may seem unrealistic to us, just like His return seems unrealistic to unbelievers.

Peter gives a powerful description of the violence and dissolution that lies just ahead, adding tremendous gravity to his eventual question. All that we recognize of this world will be burned up. The ungodly will perish. The things that we see on a daily basis will dissolve—the cultures, the cities, the systems that man has developed. With this fiery end in mind, Peter asks, “What manner of persons ought we be in holy conduct and godliness?”

This world is passing away, and everything that is part of this world is of limited duration and meaning. What matters are those things that relate to holiness, godliness, and the next world. All the rest will disappear.

When Christ returns, our response to God throughout our lives will matter. Our house, car, and other physical accoutrements will not. The quality of our relationships with others will matter. Our popularity will not. Our character will matter. The trivia and fickleness of the culture will not. The reflection of God in our lives and our example of His eternal life will matter, but the glitz and glamour of this world are just so much smoke waiting to dissipate. Through God's Spirit, we have been given the discernment to evaluate what will matter when Christ returns and what is simply vanity and grasping for the wind.

As Christ suffers long with us, is our whole heart focused on the repenting that we still need to do? Or are we among those walking according to our own lusts? Are we are putting far off the day of doom, as Amos says (Amos 6:3), because much of this world does not seem too bad to us? Or are we earnestly longing for Christ's return, fervently praying, “Your Kingdom come”?

David C. Grabbe
How Much Longer Do We Have?


 

Revelation 21:1-4

Following this time of judgment, God will create "a new heaven and a new earth" - a clean, pure world fit for God the Father Himself. For all eternity, "there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." All those who have accepted God's way will have been glorified as members of the God Family, and they will live forever. Like God, they will create, beautify, and spread God's rule over the entire universe! With this wonderful potential ahead of us, we can eagerly echo the apostle John's words in Revelation 22:20: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Martin G. Collins
Holy Days: Last Great Day


 

 




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