By Christina M Wilson
A New Heaven and a New Earth: Christ the Fulfillment
As in so many other ways, the advent and events of the life of God’s Special Servant, his Son, fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 65:17.
For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth: and they shall not at all remember the former, neither shall they at all come into their mind. (Septuagint 65:17)
After the actions of Adam and Even in the garden, they were expelled from the presence of God. Angelic beings and a flaming sword prevented their re-entry into that place (Genesis 3:24). Eden, their first home, is where they used to meet with God face to face in the afternoon (Genesis 3:8). After that horrible disobedience (Genesis 3:1-6f), God no longer communicated face to face with humankind. Instead, he chose mediators (Job 33:23; Isaiah 43:27) to represent him. These were prophets, angelic beings, and his written Law.
A New Heaven
Through his death on the cross, resurrection from the grave, and ascension into heaven, Jesus Christ, the Servant, opened a doorway into God’s presence that never existed before.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (ESV)
Scripture reveals Christ as a human person, a man. And yet, he permanently dwells with God (1 Timothy 2:5; Mark 16:19; Acts 7:56; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:12; 1Peter 3:22.) This is new. Never in all the Old Testament nor ever in humankind’s entire history was there a human being seated on a throne next to God Almighty. All human beings, every single one, may choose in and through Christ to appear before God’s throne to ask for grace.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)
Christ’s sacrifice is permanent, once for all. No longer do we need the blood of bulls, goats, and sheep to have our one on one conversation with God (Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26; 10:10). In and through Christ, we are free and welcome to talk with God as often as our hearts desire.
Heaven is a spiritual place. It is the name we give the abode of God. A “new heaven” therefore must have a spiritual fulfillment. Christ accomplished this for us. We now have a new heaven we access through him.
John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (ESV)
Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” (ESV)
A New Earth
Likewise, the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, God’s Servant, opened the way for a “new earth.” In the old earth, the earth that existed during the days of Isaiah and throughout all the Old Testament, God did not dwell among his people. He lived in heaven. Now, however, God dwells with us.
Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (ESV)
During the thirty-three years of Christ’s life with us, people saw him, walked with him, spoke to him, and interacted with him daily. God with us–this is indeed new. Earth had not felt the footsteps of God since the fall of humankind in the Garden.
John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us–3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (ESV)
THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES
After Christ’s ascension, he sent his (and his Father’s) Holy Spirit to live on earth in and among his followers. The Holy Spirit is God. He is the third divine Person of the Trinity. “God with us” (“Immanuel, God with us”–Matthew 1:23) continues to this day.
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (ESV)
The divine Son maintains a physical body here on earth–his people.
Romans 12:5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (ESV)
Just as in a human body the thoughts of the mind are not physical, so in the body of Christ on earth, the thoughts of the head–who is Christ–are not physical but spiritual. Yet, the body which carries out his will, does so physically. These physical acts of Christ include caring for the sick and elderly, visiting those in prison, preaching with physical mouths the word of God, feeding the hungry, and so forth. The body of God on earth, indwelled by God’s Spirit, is new–this did not exist in the Old Testament in Isaiah’s day. Christ’s body on earth–the presence of the Holy Spirit among humankind–has changed the face of the earth. It is a new earth.
One More Great Change
I personally believe that Christ will come again (Acts 1:11; John 14:3; Revelation 22:20). When Christ comes, death will cease. The end of the ages will have arrived. The eternal state will be ushered in.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– (ESV)