The New Heaven and New Earth
July 14th, 1963 @ 8:15 AM
THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
7-14-63 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The New Heaven and the New Earth. If you will turn in your Bible to the Revelation, and to next to the last chapter, and keep your Bible in your hand, you can easily follow the exposition this morning. You can turn to the other passages that we shall read in the Bible. It will do your heart good to turn to them and to look at them as the pastor reads them and speaks of their meaning to us.
After these many, many years preaching through the Bible we have come finally to the closing, the consummating, the ultimate, the climactic vision. These last two chapters are divided into three parts. Chapter 21, the first eight verses describe a new heaven and the new earth [Revelation 21:1-8]; chapter 21:9-22:5, describe the new and heavenly city [Revelation 21:9-22:5]. Chapter 22, verses 6 to the end, comprise an epilogue [Revelation 22:6-21].
And in my preaching as I finish these many years of going through the Bible, this coming Sunday I shall preach on The New and the Heavenly City, then the following Sunday on The Epilogue. Then I have two other sermons that I want to prepare which will finish these many years of preaching through the Bible. I want to prepare a sermon on God’s Last Invitation, Revelation 22:17, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” God’s last invitation. Then I want to prepare the closing sermon of these many years of preaching through the Book, The Last Promise and the Last Prayer, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly,” the last promise, and then the last prayer, “Even so, come. Amen” [Revelation 22:20].
Now, the sermon this morning, Revelation 21, the first [seven] verses [Revelation 21:1-7], The New Heaven and the New Earth:
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.
And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, look, the dwelling place of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And He that sat upon the throne said, Look, look, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.
So these three new things: “I saw a new heaven, I saw a new earth, and I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:1-2]. Behold, said He that sat upon the throne, I make all things new” [Revelation 21:5].
A new heaven; there are three heavens that are mentioned in the Word of God. There is the heaven of the birds and of the clouds, the atmospheric heaven around this earth. There is a second heaven in the Bible, the heaven of the starry spheres, the great Milky Way, all that God has created in the vast chalice and firmament of the night. Then there is the third heaven, which is the abiding place, the house and home of God.
When the Scriptures here say, “God makes a new heaven,” I know that he refers to the heaven immediately above us. I think, in my own heart, that he refers to the heaven of the starry spheres. I am supposing that in the regeneration, the palingenesia, the palingenesis, the re-creation, I am supposing that those dead orbs and burned-out stars shall be remade in their primordial, and pristine, and eternal glory. But however it shall be there shall be a supernal splendor God shall give to His starry heavens above us.
I wonder what it will look like. It is so glorious now. The psalmist, looking, said, “The heavens declare the glory of God” [Psalm 19:1]. And there is not a soul, however infidel he may persuade himself to be, there’s not a soul but that could look up in the sky and feel in his deepest heart that surely the Creator was someone glorious in splendor and power. But however it is now, it will be more incomparably beautiful in the new creation.
And a new earth, a new earth [Revelation 21:1]; for these thousands of years, this earth has been plunged in a dark and deep apostasy from God. Sin has cursed it, and wasted it, and blotched it, and destroyed it. But there shall be, in the new creation, a new earth. And no longer will it have to be torn by rakes and iron teeth in order to make it yield its fruit and increase. And no longer will it be infested with briers and thorns and thistles. And no longer will it be cut by graves and cemeteries. And no longer will it be moistened by the tears of weeping humanity or stained by the crimson blood of our fellow men. There’ll be no funeral processions down its highways. “I saw a new earth”—paradise regained; a redeemed creation.
“And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem” [Revelation 21:2]. God shall have a new capital for all of the work of His hands. He shall build a glorious new city of God. It will be the glory of the Lamb; as the city of Babylon in the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation represented the glory of man in his pride, and uplifted spirit, and blasphemy against God [Revelation 18:1-24], so this city shall be the glory of the Lamb.
Come hither, and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
And he carried me in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
Having the glory of God: and her light like unto a stone most precious.
That’ll be our sermon next Sunday morning—The New City of God.
There shall be this glorious, new, redeemed creation [Revelation 21:1-5]. It was the nature of sin that it was destroyed, and cursed, and blasted [Genesis 3:17-19]. That was the nature of the Fall [Genesis 3:1-6]. We were dispossessed, and we lost what God had intended for us, we who were to have dominion over the works of His hands [Genesis 1:26-28]. But in the regeneration, God shall redeem all that has been lost and sold under sin [Revelation 21:1-2]. If that is not true, then the redemption does not go as far as the cursing. And God shall not fail us. How ever far and into whatever depths the Fall descended, just so far as the consequences of sin have taken us shall the ableness and the power of the redemptive purposes of God lift us up, and give us back these things that God hath intended for His children. What a glorious prospect when God shall restore us and our world again.
Now may I speak of what is meant by a “new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away”? Does that mean annihilation? “The first earth, the first heaven, were passed away; and I saw a new heaven and a new earth” [Revelation 21:1]—does that mean that what we now see as the handiwork of God shall be swept into nothingness, that God shall blot out and destroy all of this work of His hands, and He shall make a new creation in the sense of bringing into existence something that has never been before? Well, these are my interpretations. Now remember, as I speak and expound this passage of Scripture, I do not think it means annihilation, that this whole universe and creation of God, including our earth, shall be ultimately destroyed and swept away. I think it refers to a change, to a redemption, to a cleansing by fire. This universe physical was here, created by the hands of God [Genesis 1:1-19], before sin entered it [Ezekiel 28:15-16]. And it shall be here after sin is thoroughly burned and purged away. In my persuasion, the new heaven and the new earth [Revelation 21:1] is God’s handiwork as we now see it, cleansed and redeemed and made new and glorious as the Lord intended it and did make it at the beginning [Isaiah 45:18].
Now I have a whole lot of reasons for that that we’re going to look at. First, these passages in the Bible––and here’s one you can be turning to, the last verse in the First Gospel, in Matthew––these passages in the Bible that refer to the end of the world. Now this is one of them that I’ve chosen as typical: “And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” [Matthew 28:20]. That’s the King James Version. There are three Greek words for world. One is ge, g-e. You find that word in compounds like “geography” or “geophysics,” ge. That Greek word refers to the ground, to the earth, to this planet.
The second Greek word is kosmos. Kosmos in its original meaning referred to adornment. That’s where a woman uses the word “cosmetics,” comes from that word kosmos. Then as the Greeks began to refer to the beauty and order of God’s creation, the word “adornment,” kosmos, was finally applied to the world itself, and finally to the civilized order of life, the civilization of men, the inhabited world, kosmos.
Then the third Greek word that is translated “world” is aion. We’ve taken it in the English and pronounce it “i-on,” aion. Aion is an age. It is a duration of time. It is a dispensation. It is an order of things, aion. That is the word that is inevitably used when the Bible speaks of the end of the world. Like here, “I will be with you, even unto the end of the ge, of the planet earth, the terrestrial earth.” No. “I will be with you, even unto the end of the a ion, of the eon, of the age, of the dispensation, of this era; I will be with you all the way until the consummation of history” [Matthew 28:20]. But there is not in the Bible the idea of the annihilation and the extinction of the earth itself, of the ground. That word is not used.
Now let’s look again at this word “pass away,” parerchomai, “pass away.” For example, in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Mark and the thirty-first verse, “Heaven and earth shall parerchomai, pass away: but My words shall not pass away, parerchomai” [Mark 13:31]. Then that’s the word used here, “The first heaven and the first earth were passed away” [Revelation 21:1].
The primary and original meaning of parerchomai is this. Not that we pass into extinction or out of existence, but the word primarily refers to a change of place or condition like a man would pass through a door. He passes through the door. You may not see him anymore, but he does not come into extinction. He passes out of your sight. He passes through the door. Or as a ship would pass through the sea, it’ll go over the horizon, but it does not cease to exist. Now that is the fundamental, original, the first and the primary meaning of parerchomai. So when the Book says that the heaven, this old one, and the earth, this old one, passes away, it refers, I think, primarily, originally, and substantially, mostly, really to the change that this old creation is going through. The old things are passed away. They are changed, and there comes into being a new and a glorious regeneration [Revelation 21:1].
Now I have a whole lot of other reasons why I think that this refers to a rejuvenation, a cleansing, a redemption of what God has already created. Will you turn now to 2 Peter 3:6? Simon Peter here is referring to the destruction of the earth in the days of Noah by the Flood. Now look at what he says: “Whereby,” this is verse 6 in the last chapter, the third chapter, of 2 Peter:
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed by water, perished, perished; the world perished:
And the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
[2 Peter 3:6-7]
Now he says in that passage that the world perished. What perished? The ground? The orb? This terrestrial ball? This planet? No. “The world perished” [2 Peter 3:6]. He uses the word kosmos there for the world, the civilization, the order of man perished. If there were cities, they were washed away. If there were families, they were drowned. If there was life, it was snuffed out [Genesis 7:17-23]. The world, the kosmos, the order of civilization, the thing that man had done and the order and the beauty by which he had adorned it perished. But not this globe, not this earth, it still existed and still does exist. Then he says, “The heavens and the earth, which are now, are by the same word of God reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition [of] ungodly men” [2 Peter 3:7].
He says that in the day of the perdition, the judgment, of ungodly and sinful men, that this whole earth and this whole heaven above us is going to be purged by fire [2 Peter 3:7]. That’s exactly what John says in the day of the great white throne judgment of ungodly men, in the last of the twentieth of Revelation, “I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” [Revelation 20:11]. That is the day Peter says in that day of judgment of ungodly men, that is the day when God shall purge this whole universe by fire [2 Peter 3:7]. And in the next vision he says, “And I saw the new heaven and the new earth” [Revelation 21:1], cleansed, redeemed, wherein righteousness dwells [2 Peter 3:13] like waters cover the sea [Isaiah 11:9].
All right another discussion of that, revelation of that, in the Bible; in the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, Matthew 19:28, “And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye who have followed Me . . . when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory in the regeneration,” in the palingenesia, and we’ve taken that Greek word paligenesia and brought it bodily and letter by letter into English. There is an English word palingenesia, the regeneration, the new birth, the making again; in the palingenesia, in the palingenesis, in the regeneration of this earth. Now the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans will describe that. And there is not a more beautiful or meaningful passage in the Bible than this one in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, beginning at verse 19, let me read it. Follow it in your Bible if you’d like. Underscore it:
For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
For the creation was made subject to vacuity, to emptiness, to despair, to futility, to vanity, not because it chose, but by reason of Him who did it in the hope of a greater redemption.
Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
The winds mournfully howl in a minor key. The lightning flashes. The continents are blasted by deserts and by floods, seared by burning heat. And the animal world is carnivorous and cries in birth and in illness and in death.
The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only that creation, but we ourselves also—
God’s highest workmanship, mankind—
we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit—
namely, the resurrection—
the redemption of the whole purchased possession, which includes our bodies.
My, what a passage! This whole creation is going to be redeemed, all of it, all of it.
You know, when you get to thinking about that, you just, it just makes you wonder to what extent is the power of God going to resurrect, and redeem, and re-create this world. For example, ludicrously, humorously somewhat, when a little boy loses his dog, his dog is dead, got run over or somebody poisoned him or he died, little boy’s dog is dead. First funeral service ever held in my life; I gathered all of the mourners before me and they sat on little tin buckets. And there on a bedspring that we were using for a stretcher, there on the bed spring was old Shep, and he died.
And all my mourners were out there, and I preached the funeral sermon. I was about eight or nine years old. And as I preached, my mourners just wept and wiped their eyes over old Shep. You reckon in the regeneration all of this, all of this animal world is going to be redeemed? “The lion is going to eat straw like an ox”—not going to be carnivorous anymore—“the little child can play on the cockatrice’ den, and put his hand on the hole of the asp; and the leopard is going to lie down with the lamb; and the wolf and the little baby goat, going to play together” [Isaiah 11:6-8]. Oh, it just makes you wonder what’s God going to do in that new creation!
Well, let’s take one more. Let’s take one more. Look at that passage that we read out loud this morning, 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, this body in which we live, if this tabernacle, this house be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heaven. For in this we groan”—subject to ills, senility, age, death—“looking forward, desiring, hoping, for that new house, which God shall fashion for us in glory” [2 Corinthians 5:1-2], the new resurrected body.
Now does that mean the annihilation of this body? Does it? Now this is my persuasion again: if there is no continuity between my body and my resurrected body, then the resurrection is meaningless. It has no meaning for me. God’s going to give something else, but not this. There has to be continuity if resurrection means anything at all, otherwise the word is empty and vain and futile.
I, this I, I who live in this house and this house; if there is a resurrection then I have to be resurrected, who live in this body, this house. And that’s exactly what God’s Word says is coming to pass.
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ shall be raised first; and all of us shall be changed, redeemed, glorified, immortalized.
[1 Corinthians 15:51-52]
You and the house you live in.
Now I am arguing from comparison here. If God is going to do that to the house we live in, there’s a continuity in it. It’ll be this house redeemed, and glorified, and resurrected, just as it was in the body of our Lord—it was the Lord Jesus, even with the scars in His hands [Luke 24:39-40; John 20:25-27]. So there’s going to be a continuity in the redemption of this world. It’ll be the same heaven above us and the same glorious orb beneath us, but it’s going to be regenerated, and resurrected, and glorified, and redeemed [Revelation 21:1, 5].
Now that’ll fit all the promises of the Bible. For example, in Psalm 37, “Those that wait upon the Lord shall inherit the earth” [Psalm 37:9]; not as a temporary thing, but as God’s eternal gift, “They that wait upon the Lord shall inherit the earth,” the ninth verse. Now look at the eleventh: “But the meek shall inherit the earth” [Psalm 37:11]. That’s what Jesus said: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” [Matthew 5:5]. Look at verse 29: “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever, for ever” [Psalm 37:29], this earth, this planet, redeemed. Isaiah 60 has that same thing [Isaiah 60:21]. Daniel 2:44, “God has given to Jesus an eternal kingdom, down here where these people are.” And, of course, Matthew 5:5 says that.
So in my persuasion, when John sees a new heaven and a new earth [Revelation 21:1], it is not that this present heaven and this present earth have gone into extinction and been burned up like a cinder and thrown on a slag pile, but it is the regeneration, and the renovation, and the redemption, and the cleansing, and the remaking, the glorifying of what God’s hand hath already wrought.
Well, my time’s gone. I wanted to speak, “and there was no more sea” [Revelation 21:1]. And I wanted to speak, “and the skēnē, the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God is with men, and He will skēnoō, and He will tabernacle with them [Revelation 21:3], God with us” [Matthew 1:23]. And I wanted to speak of “the tears wiped away, and no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, and no more pain; all things new” [Revelation 21:4-5]. And I wanted to speak of “the fountain of the water of life” [Revelation 21:6]; and I wanted to speak of the fellowship with God: “And I will be his God, and he shall be My son” [Revelation 21:7].
Now listen, that’s just too meaningful not to mention. So we’ll just do that next Sunday. We’ll just do that next Sunday, “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying. No more pain; God wipe away the tears…I make all things new” [Revelation 21:4-5]. Oh, what a prospect does the Lord hold out for His children who love Him! [2 Corinthians 2:9].
Now, Brother Till, choir, dear people, sing our song of appeal. Somebody you give your heart to Jesus today; to come into the fellowship of the church; while we make this appeal and sing this song, sweet song, the by and by of God’s promise to His children, while we sing it, to give your heart to Jesus or to put your life with us in the church, would you come and stand by me, while all of us stand and sing together?