Bibliano and Amigo: Discussions on Eschatology (Lesson #5, The New Heaven and New Earth in Revelation)

AMIGO: In our last two studies, you convinced me that the New Heaven and New Earth as described in Isaiah 65-66 and 2 Peter 3 is not about a shiny new planet. But I have a hard time digesting the idea that the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21 is about AD 70 like the other passages. First, if Revelation was written after AD 70, it is probably not about the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem.

BIBLIANO: Revelation was written in the mid-60’s AD while Nero was emperor of Rome, not in AD 95, as many think. The evidence for this is overwhelming. There are over 30 passages in Revelation that tie its fulfillment to AD 70. Over 130 authors have been identified as holding to the early date of Revelation. But just as a teaser on this, notice that the book begins and ends with imminence statements: “must shortly take place,” “the time is near,” “I am coming soon,” etc.

AMIGO: OK, let’s assume that the book was written early and is John’s expanded version of the Olivet Discourse. I’ve studied this enough to see how that fits. But perhaps the New Heaven and New Earth is a different one than those expressions in Isaiah and 2 Peter.

BIBLIANO: Peter and John, in the New Testament, almost certainly draw their discussion of the New Heaven and New Earth from Isaiah. They are not inventing a new concept. It is all about the new covenant order, which was ushered in with finality with the judgment upon Old Covenant Israel in AD 70 when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.

AMIGO: Maybe the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation is about heaven.

BIBLIANO: The New Heaven and New Earth is not about heaven. Notice, it still has unrighteous people in it (Revelation 22:14-15). The New Heaven and New Earth is a symbolic representation of the post AD 70 spiritual order of the planet. We have to constantly remember that the truths of Revelation are communicated by way of symbols. The planet is a “new creation” similar to how the Bible describes believers as newly created in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because of Christ’s first century work—the cross, resurrection, and the Parousia—we are in the new world order, so to speak.

AMIGO: What about the declaration of no more death and no more tears?

BIBLIANO: Indeed, Christ has already conquered death for believers! When we die physically, we continue to live—in heaven in a new state. “No more tears” is a reference to the fullness of personal relationship that each believer has with God. It is a reference to Isaiah 25-27 in which God promises to wipe away the tears with his salvation, foreshadowing the Messiah’s completed work in the last days of the Old Covenant.

AMIGO: Could Revelation be speaking of a future millennium?

BIBLIANO: No. In the context of the entire book of Revelation, the events of Revelation 21 and 22 were, at least, essentially fulfilled in AD 70. The ending chapters of Revelation describe a series of events that are consummated together: the new heaven and new earth and New Jerusalem, which are the New Covenant church order, the dissolution of hades, the final defeat of death and Satan, and the Parousia—marking the beginning of the established and victorious eternal reign of Christ. Premillennialists expect a future literal thousand-year period in which Christ reigns in a political kingdom. This is the same error of the Jews, who expected the Messiah to be a political king. Further, it is impossible to believe that Christ is not reigning NOW. As put by David Chilton, “The notion that the reign of Christ is something wholly future, to be brought in by some great social cataclysm, is not a Christian doctrine.” Christ reigns victorious.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply