By Christina M Wilson
22 For as the new heaven and the new earth, which I make, remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your seed and your name continue. 23 And it shall come to pass from month to month, and from sabbath to sabbath, that all flesh shall come to worship before me in Jerusalem, says the Lord. 24 And they shall go forth, and see the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh. (Septuagint Isaiah 66:22-24)
New Heaven and New Earth
Before being able to recognize a new heaven and a new earth, readers must understand the major characteristics of the old heaven and the old earth.
Old Heaven and Old Earth
The defining moment of the old heaven and old earth occurred when God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden. The first verse below indicates that before that moment, the Lord habitually walked in the garden in the cool of the day and spoke with Adam and Eve.
Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (ESV)
When he cast them out of the garden, certain changes occurred. The first change was the introduction of death for human kind.
Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (ESV)
Second, death spread to all creatures and plants when God cursed the ground and sent Adam and Eve away from his presence.
Genesis 3:17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (ESV) (See Romans 5:12.)
Finally, an impassable chasm separated God from man when Adam willfully disobeyed God.
Genesis 3:24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (ESV)
The entire Old Testament bears witness to the mighty separation between God and humankind. Even those who remained faithful to the intent of God’s law knew nothing of a “personal” God. Occasionally, by God’s choice alone, God spoke to prophets and commanded them to relay his words to others. Further, the offering of a countless number of animals over the course of millennia brought a temporary respite from God’s impending judgment. Nevertheless, the wrath of God towards his creation hung over the Old Testament like a clinging veil of death.
People for the most part walked alone, unaware of God. All evidences of God’s presence remained outward. The outward evidences of God’s presence among them included the Law of Moses, the words of the prophets, the signs and symbols inherent in the structure of the tabernacle and later the temple, the celebrations and observances of holy days, and finally, the events of history itself, as God repeatedly rescued the Israelites from the hand of their enemies and from natural disasters, such as drought and famine. Relatively speaking, those days were dark.
New Heaven and New Earth
Even two thousand years later, it remains impossible to overstate the magnitude of the changes the advent, sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension of God’s Servant, his Christ, his Son, effected. No millennial kingdom is necessary to complete the work of this amazing being. As Jesus of Nazareth God’s Servant himself spoke from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Listed below are the major changes.
- First, God bestows a permanent holiness upon believers in his Son (Hebrews 10:10).
- Second, the veil of separation between people and God’s throne in heaven has been torn asunder and permanently removed. The chasm separating God and humankind has been bridged. God encourages all believers in Christ to boldly approach his heavenly throne to ask for grace and help (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 4:16).
- The veil of death hanging over all life has been lifted now, already, for those who believe in Jesus Christ (John 3:15-16; 6:54; 10:28; 17:2, 3; Acts 13:48; Romans 6:23; 1 John 2:25).
- Most wonderful of all, God is now “with us.” The very name Immanuel means, “God with us.” During his incarnation, Christ, God’s Servant in Isaiah, lived “with us.” After he ascended, he sent his Holy Spirit, the third Person of the triune God, to live within and among believers. This is incomparable treasure for all who believe. God now lives within human hearts.
Acts 19:2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit”… 5 they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (ESV) (See also John 14:18; Acts 1:8; 2:38; Colossians 1:27; Jude 1:20).
All the blessings listed above are those we have in Christ now. These already constitute a “new heaven” and a “new earth.” To summarize, for everyone who believes–and all are welcome, “whosoever will” (Revelation 22:17 NET, Matthew 11:28-30)–the following are “new”.
- Heaven is now open in Christ, not shut.
- Earth and heaven have been joined in Christ by his Holy Spirit living both within and among each and every believer in him.
- Humankind are no longer separated from the presence of God. In Christ, God, as a loving Father, welcomes all to approach his throne of grace.
- The curse has been declared null and void for those who believe and receive God’s Servant. Eternal life is here now.
… Not Yet
Some of Isaiah’s promises remain to be fulfilled. One day, this last age of history will end. A final judgment will come. And, the earth itself, all creation, will be reborn into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The earth itself will be “new.”
Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (ESV)
And those who live now in accord with God’s ultimate plan of salvation in his Servant, his Son, will receive new, eternal bodies.
Romans 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (ESV)
1 Corinthians 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (ESV)
Your Name and Your Seed
In the next post, Lord willing, we will continue the discussion of Septuagint Isaiah 66:22.