Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark
"Heaven and earth shall pass away."
"Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth."
As God spoke heaven and earth into existence in the beginning, so He will bring into existence "new heavens and a new earth". Satan rebelled against God and defiled not only this earth but also this heaven, the very sanctuary of God; consequently, both are to be destroyed. The apostle Peter gave the following description of how this will take place: "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with a fervent heat. The earth also and the works that are in it shall be burned up" (2Pet. 3:10).
Perhaps there are some who will ask, "Why will there be a new earth?" The answer to this question becomes obvious once God's promise to Abraham is understood. "The Lord," as you recall, "said to [Abraham] 'Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever'" (Gen. 13:14-15). The land that Abraham surveyed was the land of Canaan, as God made clear when He renewed His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:8), "I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession."
But the earthly "promised land" was only a symbol, a shadow of the ultimate fulfillment of God's promise, for we are told that Abraham "sojourned in the land of promise, as if in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, joint-heirs of the same promise. For he was waiting for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:9-10). If earthly Canaan was the real "promised land", then Abraham would not have been looking for another country, and a city built by God.
The children of God will inherit the real "land of promise", not the earthly land of Canaan, but that "new earth" for which Abraham kept looking, and for which all faithful followers of Christ still look.
This inheritance, this eternal "promised land", is promised to those who believe in Christ Jesus. Paul said, "The promise that Abraham should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham or his seed through the Law [the Jews] but through the righteousness of faith [believers in Christ] . . . to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed . . . As it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations'" (Rom. 4:13-17).
So, we become heirs of God's promise to Abraham by receiving Christ. By receiving him, we are made a part of Abraham's seed (Christ), to whom the promise was actually made. In Galatians 3:7, Paul said, "Those who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham," and then he goes on to say, "if you belong to Christ, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
For God to fulfill His promise to Abraham, there must be a resurrection, for the prophet Ezekiel said this (37:12-14): "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel [the new earth]. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land. Then shall you know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it', says the Lord." Thank God for the promise of the resurrection! "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable," wrote the apostle Paul. But since we have a sure hope of a resurrection from the dead, and the promise of an eternal home on the new earth, we must be of all men most happy!
This present earth was made for man, and this heaven was made for God, as David said: "The heaven, even the heavens, is the Lord's, but the earth He has given to the children of men" (Ps. 115:16). Just so, the new earth will be for man; specifically, for those redeemed by Christ. They will live forever on the new earth after reigning with Christ a thousand years on this old one, during which time the "marriage supper" takes place and the saints, with Christ, judge the wicked. At the end of the thousand years, the wicked will receive this sentence from the mouth of the Lord: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." And then, the saints will be given that new earth and enjoy eternal peace.
Peter gives us this warning concerning the promise of which we speak: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are in it shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness" (2Pet. 3:9-13).
By referring to heaven as the future home of the redeemed, many unwittingly contradict this great promise of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the same promise Jesus affirmed when he said to his disciples, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Mt. 5:5).
In a vision, John saw the fulfillment of God's promise of a new earth, giving us the following narrative, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away" (Rev. 21:1). David showed his confidence in the promise of inheriting the new earth by counseling us to "Wait on the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land. When the wicked are cut off, you will see it" (Ps. 37:34).
Solomon once said that "the blessing of the Lord, it makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it" (Prov. 10:22). What is the blessing of the Lord? Saints of a previous generation, with good reason, frequently referred to the baptism of the holy Spirit as "the Blessing". With this in mind, let us read this scripture from Psalm 37:22: "For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth, and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off."
Now, my dear reader, have you received the Blessing of the Spirit? If so, Isaiah gives you these encouraging words: "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and those who dwell in it shall die in like manner, but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished."
"The wicked," we are told by wise king Solomon, "shall not inherit the earth" (Prov. 10:30). And from the pen of Solomon's father, David, we receive this testimony concerning the fate of the wicked, "But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs. Into smoke they shall consume away" (Ps. 37:20). Yes, children of God, after the destruction of the wicked and of this present heaven and earth, the new earth will be given to God's faithful children for an everlasting inheritance. And there, thank God, they will never be misunderstood or persecuted again.
We who have received "the Blessing" and who have been given the promise of an eternal inheritance on the new earth must live free from sin in this life, for nothing unclean will be permitted to exist in that "promised land". Jesus and the apostles declared often and very plainly that only those who do the will of the Father will be allowed to enter into eternal life (Mt. 7:21; Rom. 2:5-10).
After reading this tract, no honest person of fair intelligence can fail to understand that God will give a new earth to His children who are faithful to Him. May God help us to live a consecrated life so that we may be among them and receive that eternal inheritance.
Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions" (Jn. 14: 2). Later, Paul spoke of these "mansions", saying, "We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2Cor. 5:1). These heavenly "houses" are the glorified bodies which the faithful will receive "in the twinkling of an eye" when Jesus returns for them. Speaking of this event, Paul wrote that Jesus "will transform our lowly body into the likeness of his glorious body" (Phip. 3:21). My friend, these mansions, the glorified bodies Jesus will give us, will never grow old, sicken, or die. They are eternal, and we will live in them on an eternal, new earth.
On the new earth there will be no wickedness or natural disasters to cause fear or destruction. When God destroys sin and death, "He will make an utter end. Affliction shall not rise up the second time" (Nah. 1:9). Thank God, we will have new homes (new bodies) that neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor death can ever touch. As Isaiah tells us, "God will wipe away tears from off all faces. And He will take the rebuke of His people away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken it. And it will be said in that day, 'Lo! This is our God; we have waited for Him'" (Isa. 25:8-9).
My friend, if you are as yet unprepared to meet God in peace, don't hesitate to turn to Him now while He is speaking to you. Let the salvation of your soul dwarf all other interests in this life, for if you are not given a part on the new earth, you will be given a part with the damned and be cast away "into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Judgment is coming, and God has forewarned us that the new earth is prepared only for those who are faithful to Christ Jesus. My prayer is that we all will be faithful and that we will meet someday in that beautiful "city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."