Lesson 91

New Heavens and New Earth

"Then I saw the new heaven and the new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away; and the sea is no more."
Revelation 21:1 (Moffatt Translation)

Many teachings of the Bible use symbolic language. In our scripture text the word heaven is used to represent the various religious or spiritual powers. The earth is symbolic of the lower or social order of things. Mountains represent earthly governments and the seas represent the restless and discontented masses of people of the earth.

When John was given a vision of the new earth he saw the same physical earth with a new social order—a better way of life based on God’s righteous rules and principles.

When John saw the vision of the new heavens he was not seeing God’s throne in a new place. The heavens here referred to are the religious systems in the world all claiming to be the one "right" religion. These will give way to the establishment of Christ’s kingdom of truth and righteousness.

Christ’s kingdom is the third "heavens and earth" or "the world to come." The first was the world that was overflowed with water, the great flood of Noah’s day. It had been under the rule and influence of the angels (2 Peter 3:6).

The second world (or social order) was then begun and will end in the great time of trouble. This is also called the "present evil world" because of the prevalence of Satan’s power and influence; indeed, he is called "the prince of this world" (John 12:31). The new heavens and the new earth in the world to come will be based on love and justice rather than might and oppression, and righteousness will prevail.

The blotting out of evil will be gradual and will need all of the thousand years of Christ’s kingdom to be accomplished. This will be a time when "the righteous shall flourish" (Psalm 72:7), and "the willing and obedient will eat the good of the land" (Isaiah 1:19). Eventually all evil men will be cut off (Psalm 37:9 New Interntional Version).

Mankind has been hoping and praying for these conditions since our Lord’s first advent when he taught his disciples to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10), a wonderful promise—and yet to come true!

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