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THE NEW EARTH

Since the rebellion of man in the garden, which God had provided, the earth has been continually and progressively polluted by man's industry and ravaged by the exploits of war.

The Bible declares God's purpose for the earth is to be inhabited, not the sterile waste that man seems so determined to make of it. In both wartime and peacetime, human governments have failed to preserve this fabulous gift from God. The Psalmist writes,

"The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lords: but the earth hath He given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:16).

As we reflect on the sorry history of our earth, we are assured that God created the earth with the purpose to remain populated and that His words do not return unto Him void, as those of politicians who have good intentions but lack the power to carry out their plans for the better world they envision. Through His word He says,

"For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:18).

The same writer declares,

"So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please ... 11 (Isaiah 55:11).

What then is God's planned future for this earth? Destruction and chaos or restoration to the paradisiac conditions from which it began?

Restoration From Rebellion

After four thousand years of rebellion from God by the majority of mankind, God sent His Son, Jesus, to provide the needed sacrifice to reconcile wayward mankind to Himself. This first advent of the Messiah was self- sacrificing in a most literal sense. But He and His disciples after Him spoke of a second advent, a return to this earth. His second coming will be with power to restore the righteous government of God.

"Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom the heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time" (Acts 3:19-21 NASB).

Let's explore what the ancient prophets spoke about regarding the future earth. We will find in the Old Testament, prophetic writings concerning many aspects of life on the new earth.

Harmony In Nature

From the time of man's rebellion in Eden the animal kingdom for the most part has been hostile to men. The Bible tells of total peace not only among the nations, but also in all of nature. Speaking of this future time of Christ's rule, Isaiah writes,

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:6-9).

Today we can hardly realize what those conditions will be like. But the promise is sure. Finally, the thing that no man can even hope to do will be accomplished by our Lord, full harmony among those of the animals which are now natural enemies and total fearlessness between them and mankind.

What a contrast from present conditions. The next time you visit a zoo, think about how different it would be without the bars? No longer will it be necessary to protect these beautiful creatures from one another with cages. No longer will man feel so threatened that he must keep his distance or suffer the impending harm from what seems to be his natural enemies.

Harmony In Government

If human governments could find a way to use the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the sophisticated weapons of defense (war), the poor and hungry of the world could be well fed. The temptations to control the world's masses and natural resources, such as oil and strategic metals, have proven to be too great for modern man. The pages of history run red with the blood of man, each nation thinking they held the ideal answer for world government.

Whether the choice be communism, democracy, republics, or monarchies, we must admit all have failed to bring peace to a fearful world. Great statesmen with sincere and honest efforts to bring peace are forced to confess that the chances for peaceful solutions to the world's ills are remote at best. Greater is the likelihood of a third world war in which there will be no winners, and maybe no survivors, if man is left to his own wisdom.

It is with such a backdrop of history that we more greatly appreciate the promise of a world ruler who is righteous.

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end...(Isaiah 9:6,7).

Under His leadership the dreams of war ravaged men of good will are to be realized. Total peace. Hear the welcome promise from your Bible,

"And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).

It may appear strange to many that the nations only do this after God "rebukes many people." The satanically influenced nations of this world will not give up their nationalistic rule to the rightful King of Kings without a fight.

Satan in his last ditch effort to rule or ruin this earth will gather the nations to fight against God's appointed heir to the throne.

"For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty ...And He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Revelation 16:14,16).

It is amazing to the honest truth seeker today to learn how Jesus will be rejected by all the governments of this earth upon His second coming just as He was by Israel in His first advent. John foretells some of this eventful time,

"The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever ... And the nations were angry and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:15,18).

The first thing Christ will do upon His return to this earth is to raise from the dead all those who have died faithful to Him,

"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" (I Corinthians 15:22,23).

Next, those who belong to His church will be changed from the mortals they presently are to immortal bodies.

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; 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 shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (I Corinthians 15:51,52).

God does not raise His church from the dead and change those mortals to immortality without reasons beyond riding on clouds and playing harps as so many suppose. The Bible tells of work to be done. These immortal, ones will have a part in the restoration of the earthly governments to God. Their rule with Christ is described,

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).

And from where are they to rule? Not from some place in heaven as many suppose, but right from this earth as it is being restored. Read the words from your own Bible so you can be sure of His promise through John's writing,

"And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shallreign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10).

This one-thousand years of Christ's rule and restoration of the earth will not be just a mundane existence of drudgery. It will be a time when the earth will realize its full productivity as God desires. Under this new government the earth will flourish with vegetation even in the deserts as He promised,

"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as a rose ... For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy ... the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying" (Isaiah 35:1; 65:17-19).

Thus, in the beginning of this earth-wide restoration work, God describes it as a new heaven and a new earth. However, it will be one-thousand years before the new earth is completely made new. This will be a time when Christ and His church will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

Death will still be occurring during this phase of the new earth. Notice in Isaiah 65:20 that death is not yet abolished,

"There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years shall be accursed."

We discover here that during the restoration process infants will not die before having reached a mature age, but if they remain in sin (transgressor of God's laws), they will be accursed. The time of "no more death" comes later after the restoration is finished. We will address that point later.

Harmony In Worship

The prophet, Isaiah, describes Christ's return to the earth in the next chapter. It is most interesting what He will find and how He will deal with those who ignore His supremacy.

"For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with

all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many" (Isaiah 66:15,16).

Take note that this is not a prophecy of the past history of Israel. This is when God's judgment is brought to all the nations--all flesh. God's judgment is many times associated with fire in the Bible. So then the fire may or may not be literal, but the judgment is complete upon those who are rebellious to Him.

What has brought this response of anger from a righteous God? He knows their works and their thoughts to be defiant to His will. We can even read some of the specific ways in which they are out of step with their Creator.

"They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord. For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see My glory" (Isaiah 66:17,18).

There can be no doubt of the time period being prophesied here, it is definitely when Christ returns to rule. Those who have been ignoring practices of pure worship would do well to reflect upon what God sees as abominations.

Later in this same Bible chapter, God foretells of complete harmony of worship in the new earth.

"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 66:22,23).

During the millennium, the restoration of true worship will be accomplished.

But what will happen to those who still refuse this harmony of worship? Zechariah, another Old Testament prophet, foresaw the day of the Lord's return.

"Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city" (Zechariah 14:1,2).

It can hardly escape our notice today, when we read the daily news, how the nations seem to have already begun to gather against Jerusalem. The promised outcome is clear,

"Then shall the Lord go forth, and right against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle ... the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee" (Zechariah 14:3-5).

When the nations attack Jerusalem, God suddenly and unexpectedly intervenes in her behalf. He does so by natural phenomenon of a great earthquake which will divide mountains.

No modem armies will be able to successfully resist His anointed King and the saints who come with Him. Verse nine further promises,

"And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one."

No longer will He tolerate any form of idolatry. He alone is to be worshipped and recognized as sole ruler of the new earth.

Does this mean that God will make mankind a mass of robots or automatons to worship Him? No! If that was His intention, He could have done it in the garden of Eden. God will still give men free choice to worship Him and receive His protection, or to stubbornly refuse harmonious worship and suffer.

"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem [there will be surviving nations] shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that who so will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain" (Zechariah 14:16,17).

Many Christian people today deny that it is God's will that they keep His feasts as He had commanded ancient Israel. The above verses, however, clearly show they are to be kept during the restoration of the new earth.

Additionally, some will still refuse to observe them, but with more immediate consequences, no rain at first and then God will smite them with plagues if they remain self-willed. Verses 18 and 19,

"And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."

Thus, harmony in nature, government, and worship will, for the first time since the Edenic rebellion, come to this earth. It will be, as it were, a new earth for man's blessing.

Satan Bound

It is not popular in some circles today to affirm belief in a personal devil. However, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not only believed in his existence, He resisted his temptations and promised a time of total inactivity for him.

This evil spirit creature has been deceiving mankind since the day he lied to Eve in the garden of Eden, telling her she would not die. The apostle Paul called him, "the god of this world" who has blinded the minds of those who believe not the gospel of Christ. Paul further shows Satan as able to transform himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 4:4; 11: 14).

During the restoration period of the new earth, Satan's deception of the nations is interrupted for one-thousand years. "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season" (Revelation 20:13).

For a thousand years, the uncontested rule of the new earth will be in the hands of Christ, the King of Kings. Under Him will be the ones who died faithfully in His service.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4).

Those who survive Armageddon will continue the populating of the earth during the millennium. Nations will be brought into harmony with God without the deceiving influence of Satan, but this is not the new earth in its completed form. All those who were blinded to God's purpose and those who opposed Him from the time of Adam until Christ's return are resurrected at the end of the thousand years.

"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished ... 11 (Revelation 20:5).

Next, Satan is loosed to make his final effort at deceiving the nations. To what extent he is successful in this rebellion we cannot be sure. We are only told that his followers will be many, as the sands of the sea. This is not to be a literal number, of course, but rather is merely an unknown quantity.

"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 compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them" (Revelation 20:7-9).

Satan's final demise is recorded in the next few verses,

"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 ... and death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death" (Revelation 20:10,14).

This lake of fire is a metaphor, not necessarily a literal fire. It is clearly called, "the second death" in the above verse and also in 21:8,

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

Satan meets with the same fate as all those who followed his lead into rebellion, eternal death. "The wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23).

The Earth In God's Eternal Kingdom

Not until after the final judgment of the wicked can we rightly say the earth is completely restored. Only after the second death is finished could we rightly say, "there shall be no more death."

When the book of Revelation was originally written, it was not divided into chapters and verses as our texts today have been. While at times this is convenient, sometimes it causes us to isolate one chapter from another in our minds. Revelation 21 continues on to tell of the coming sequence of events following the white throne judgment. Notice how it speaks of the final phase of the new heavens 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" (Revelation 21:1).

The term "new earth" now takes on a different meaning than before. The difference is that there "was no more sea." What does this mean?

Some scholars have taught this to mean there will no longer be large bodies of water on the new earth. John, however, speaking under direction of the Holy Spirit, is showing the total unity in the new earth. Consider the following way he and other prophets spoke of the seas or the waters as being the wicked nations.

"But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt" (Isaiah 57:20).

And even more pertinent are the words of John, addressing the conditions just before Christ's return.

"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters ... And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Revelation 17:1,15).

So when the restoration of the earth is totally complete there will no longer be the national barriers to divide the inhabitants of the new earth.

Still speaking of this time period, John says,

"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" (Revelation 21:4).

Tears, crying, sorrow, pain, and death will not be done away with during the millennium, but only after it has ended.

It is at this point in time when the new Jerusalem comes down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adomed for her husband. The description of the bride of Christ shows the perfection of those worthy to be called "the Lamb's wife."

"And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21:9,10).

The restoration of this earth to the complete and perfect will of God is accomplished. It is now time for Christ, God's anointed, to return it to His Father without any signs of sin or rebellion. During Christ's rule, He has successfully put all enemies under His feet, the last of which is death. The only thing not under His authority at that time is the Father.

"Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (I Corinthians 15:24-28).

Unlike the prognostications of doom and gloom forecast by those without Bible understanding, we can look with great hope for the future of the earth. Instead of a nuclear cataclysm bringing destruction, God, through His Son and rightful King, will restore it to the paradise of Eden. Yes, even beyond Eden. With Satan destroyed, no longer will God's creation be under threat of being lead into rebellion and death that plagues mankind today.

If you have not already done so, join with those who will share in the new earth. Christ has promised you a share in ruling there if you are willing to let Him be your master now and from henceforth. There is nothing to turn back to in this present evil world ruled under Satanic influence. How can we hesitate to acknowledge Him as our eternal Lord and

Savior and let Him begin to rule in our hearts today. Our decision will have eternal consequences. Will He restore the earth with or without you?

 

Churchlight Publishing Association




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