New Heavens and a New Earth

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." 2 Pet. 3:1313Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13).
The final part of the 2nd epistle of Peter is very solemn and at the same time very blessed to the believer.
The judgment of God is to fall upon the earth, and in such a manner that at the end everything shall be destroyed. The characteristic feature of the last days is alluded to here, and we find scoffers asking, "Where is the promise of His coming?" When scoffing and mockery become general, we may be sure that the end is nigh; and the Apostle speaks not only of the setting up of the power of Christ when He shall come to reign, but looks at the whole period of judgment (embracing the millennial reign) as going on to that day when the heavens shall pass away with noise, the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
In the midst of the existing state of things, the believer looks for new heavens and a new earth; he belongs already in spirit to an entirely new order of things, and it is of great importance that all his conduct in the present time should be a practical test to this blessed expectation.
When public mockery as to God's great dealings and the Lord's coming in judgment becomes general, then we have a certain sign of the last days. At one time the doctrines of Voltaire carried away the upper classes, but we are living in a time when scoffing has infected every rank of society. The fall of man is denied; the deluge is questioned, and it is publicly taught that the solemn intervention of God by the flood was only a "local inundation" alluded to in tradition as the flood of Deucalion. Men are willfully ignorant; that is, they will not admit that a holy God once destroyed the whole world by water, and that a still more terrible judgment is yet to come, when the heavens and earth shall be destroyed by fire.
We live in the midst of a scene which shall close in one vast conflagration. Some one suggested once that a fire insurance company would have said that there was not much to fear for Sodom-there was so much water in that fertile plain-but Sodom was burned, and so shall this earth perish. I recollect some years ago passing through Paris with an old Christian, and saying that it seemed difficult to picture to oneself that all the beautiful city should be burned up; still, so it is, and we are living in the last days, and though our hope be heavenly, and we are waiting for our Lord to come to call us out of this scene before judgment falls (our hope is alluded to in the 1st chapter of this epistle), yet it is a very solemn thing to be living as witnesses for God amid the present state of infidelity.
Now I will say a few words about the new heavens and new earth. I believe that it refers here in Peter to the eternal state; no doubt the passage is quoted from Isa. 45, and there it applies to the Millennium.
But Peter goes further and, to understand the verse I have quoted, I think we should compare Rev. 21:11And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Revelation 21:1): "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." The Word of God opens before us a vista of eternal stability and blessing. The eternal state of things in Rev. 211And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Revelation 21:1) is seen by John, in the Spirit, after the close of our Lord's reign, after the judgment of the great white throne, when the last enemy, death, is overcome. It has often been pointed out that the Church is shining out in the very pristine beauty that she had before the thousand years began; no change can take place in the eternal splendor of the holy city, new Jerusalem, and she is represented again here as coming down from God out of heaven in all her beauty.
What I wish to call attention to is this: that, great as the blessing and glory of the new earth will be, we belong to a still higher sphere of glory and blessing; and when the eternal state shall have begun, the new Jerusalem is presented as coming down from God out of heaven. With this in mind, we shall be kept from any wish to follow the spirit of the present age.
What a difference between the new earth and the present earth grown old in iniquity! There will be no more sea, no more fluctuating uncertainty, no more revolutions, but all will be established in eternal stability. The judgment is at hand. Men may speak of their eternal city, of the forty centuries of the Pyramids, of the unchanging sphinx, etc.; but the end is nigh, and all the glory of the earth in its present state is about to perish, and certain judgment fall upon everything.
Are we really looking for "such things," beloved brethren? Has not all God's discipline had this happy effect upon us, that is, to separate us in power from all that is perishable, and to make us diligent, that we be found in Him in peace without spot and blameless?
He has formed us already for a new and eternal state of things; in spirit we belong to it; we are a new creation. As we go on through this iniquitous world, where every day fresh exercise awaits us, we sigh for the time when righteousness shall dwell where iniquity is now rampant; we await the new heavens that shall be illuminated by the glory of the new Jerusalem descending from God, and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. May all our conduct, our lives, our words testify that this is indeed the case!