NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH
THEIR LITERAL LOCATIONS
Our speech is often ambiguous but, in general our friends understand what we mean to say. They are aware of our idiosyncrasies and where we are coming from. Nevertheless, our speech is rarely specific and we assume that our hearers can place the content in proper context. For example, at a funeral we might say “Dave has gone to be with the Lord” or a believer might say “I will be going to heaven”. We well know what has been loosely implied but, as believers in the Word of God, haven’t we always been in His presence and haven’t we always been sitting in heavenly places anyway? As the Scriptures declare, we already are the temple of the Holy Spirit and are seated with Christ in heavenly places; and didn’t Jesus say that the kingdom of God is within you (1 Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:1-3; Hebrews 12:22)?
“You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
We assume that our hearers know what we mean. People will recognize that what we really meant to say was that Dave’s soul has been spiritually transported to a new location into the personal presence of God in heaven where he will be transformed into his resurrection body.
In discussing the ‘New Heaven and the New Earth’ I, therefore, wish to be specific. When God says that He will create a New Heaven and a New Earth He means exactly that – two distinct places. The creation of a New Heaven and a New Earth is referred to at least 7 times in the New Testament and at least 9 times in the entire Bible.
The prophet Isaiah declared, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind” and “For, as the new heavens and the new earth, your seed and your name remain” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).
Since there will be two locations it is surely legitimate to ask, “Who will live where”? Who will live in the ‘New Heaven’ and who will live on the ‘New Earth’? To answer this question we must begin with the first prototype of the kingdom of God, Eden and the Garden of Eden, and compare it with what Jesus said to the thief on the cross,
“And Jesus said to him, truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Had Jesus spoken in ancient Hebrew instead of Aramaic or Greek Jesus would have said, “Today you shall be with me in Eden”. These two names refer to the same place. They are synonymous. Eden refers to a luxuriously vegetated walled garden such as ancient kings in Persia might have had. Paradise is a Persian word. As a Bible teacher once said on TV, the Bible begins with Eden and ends with Eden. In other words, according to the book of Revelation, what Adam and Eve forfeited will not only be redeemed but be re-created in greater splendour.
CONSIDERING THE DIFFERENT LOCATIONS IN THE ACCOUNT OF EDEN
There are three distinct locations mentioned in the biblical account of Eden. Firstly, there was the expanse of Eden in which was located the Garden of Eden towards the East. The Tree of life was in the midst of the Garden. The Tree of Life represented resurrection life. Had Adam and Eve eaten of it they would have been condemned to live eternally in resurrection power while still bearing their sin (Genesis 3:22). They would have ended up in hell.
In His mercy God evicted them from the Garden and prevented their return by posting fiery cherubim to guard the gate. Adam and Eve exited into Eden but not before being clothed by God with fresh skins (a blood sacrifice, speaking of the beginning of their redemption). Much later on Cain forfeited that protection by despising the blood offering, and walked away from his parents into the world.
What is the third location that is clearly evident in this account? Adam and Eve heard God walking (Strong’s Hebrew Halak, H1980) in the Garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). In the early chapters of Genesis, in particular, the verb Halak has the connotation of present continuous in the sense of habitually walking in the Garden, such as ‘in a river flowing’ or as in ‘Noah walking daily with God’ (Genesis 2:14; 3:8; 5:22; 5:24; 6:9; 8:3; 12:9, etc). It implies that Adam and Eve had lived for quite some time in the Garden of Eden and that they regularly received visitations from God for fellowship. Randy Alcorn of Eternal Perspective Ministries puts it this way,
“There’s no definitive proof, but the passage’s implication (of Genesis 3:8) seems clear to me. I think it would be odd for God to first come walking in the garden with Adam and Eve only after they had sinned. God walking with people normally suggests closeness and intimacy and fellowship. The natural connotation, to me, is that God often did this, perhaps daily ‘in the cool of the day’, but what was remarkable this time was that man was afraid because he had sinned”.
Under normal circumstances Adam and Eve would have been delighted to share their discoveries in the garden, especially the interesting names Adam would have given to the animals. Thus, Adam and Eve spent several days in the Garden of Eden which I have more precisely specified on my website in the 15 articles on the true age of the earth, in the last article in particular.
We surmise that God Himself did not reside in the Garden of Eden nor even in Eden which He made. God was above all that. He came down from heaven for his daily visitations as He certainly did every time He presented Himself in the Tabernacle of Moses.
Therefore, in the book of Genesis we read about three specific locations –
- A walled garden within Eden (Genesis 3:23-24)
- The expanses of Eden outside
- Heaven above.
DURING THE 1000-YEAR MILLENNIUM IN PARADISE
The Millennium is a 1000-year period of rest in the presence of Christ, referred to in Revelation 20:2-7, Hebrews 4:8 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. According to God’s reckoning of time, 1000 years on Earth per one of God’s days in Heaven (2Peter 3:8), Jesus prophetically spoke of a coming three days,
“And he said unto them, Go ye and tell that fox; behold, I cast out devils and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” (Luke 13:32).
This cannot possibly be about His three days in the grave, but was prophetic of the three thousand years lying ahead. Only the redeemed and Jesus will be in the Millennium, in total peace, in their perfected resurrection bodies. During the same period Satan will have been bound in chains for 1000 years (one ‘Day’) but then will be released briefly before being finally cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:7-10). The Lake of Fire/Gehenna is the eternal location of hell, as opposed to Sheol/Hades which is the temporary ‘waiting room’ for hell where people are awaiting their final judgement (it also is a place of no return, Luke 16:19-31).
The prophecy given above by Jesus about His three days are an exact mirror of Hosea 6:1-2,“Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight”. These three days correspond to 3000 years, the third day referring to the 1000-year Millennium.
In addition to 2 Peter 3:8 and Psalm 90:4, together with all the evidence provided on the true age of the Earth, there is a tantalizing parallel in Psalm 84:10,
For a day in Your courts (Heaven) is better than a thousand (On Earth). I would rather be a
doorkeeper in the house of my God (Heaven) than dwell in the tents of wickedness (On Earth).
This is in keeping with the teachings of Jerry Wells and countless others.
A CRITICAL VERSE, REVELATION 20:9. THREE LOCATIONS
“And, when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of Heaven, and devoured them. And the devil, that deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10, NKJV).
All the redeemed have already been celebrating in the presence of Christ for 1000 years on this earth. During this time believers no longer experience grief or terror, nor burning heat or frigid cold, for there is no more sin. Christ and His church are like Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden except that this second Eden is far more glorious and is accessible to hosts of holy angels. Now take note of the three locations we can discern in verse 9 above (in green). Remember that Jesus promised to those who used their minas well that they would be rulers over cities or villages (Luke 19:11-19), these will be scattered around the ‘beloved city’ in Paradise (see my Kindle book on the ‘New Jerusalem’).
Therefore, there are
- A city, the holy city (the tabernacle/temple in prototype).
- A ‘camp’ (villages/smaller cities) surrounding the city.
- God the Father in Heaven who sends out fire to protect the kingdom of the Son – Christ and the church.
“But to the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom”’ (Hebrews 1:8).
Is this layout, in the book of Revelation, not reminiscent of the layout of the church in the wilderness in the days of Moses?
Does the pattern revealed here provide an answer as to who will occupy the New Heaven and who will occupy the New Earth? When all of this is finalized the Son will place His kingdom under the wings of the Father for all eternity.
“Then is the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He makes to cease all rule and all authority and power; for it is right for Him to reign until He has put all the enemies under His feet. The last enemy made to cease is death. For He put all things under His feet. But, when He says that all things have been put under His feet, it is plain that it excepts Him who has put all things under Him. But, when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subject to Him who has subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all things in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
This topic and the early prototypes of the New Jerusalem are more extensively developed under the various subheadings of ‘The New Jerusalem’ in my Kindle book “Supernatural Visions and Dreams: Personal Experiences”.