A New Earth and New Heavens

We are continuing to meditate on the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth (scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts).  Under the inspiration of the Spirit, the prophet Isaiah (65:17-25), writes a second time about the time when there will be great changes on the Earth:

17“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. 24Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord (Isaiah 65:17-25).

The Lord says that there will be a new earth and new heavens, too. What is meant by these words? At first glance, we could interpret the passage as saying that we will all be moved to a new planet, but that is not the meaning. Randy Alcorn in his book, Heaven, says that the expression “Heaven and Earth” is a biblical designation for the entire universe. He says:

When Revelation 21:1 speaks of “a new heaven and a new earth,” it indicates a transformation of the entire universe. The Greek word kainos, translated “new,” indicates that the earth God creates won’t merely be new as opposed to old, but new in quality and superior in character. According to Walter Bauer’s lexicon, kainos means new “in the sense that what is old has become obsolete, and should be replaced by what is new. In such a case the new is, as a rule, superior in kind to the old. It means, therefore, “not the emergence of a cosmos totally other than the present one, but the creation of a universe which, though it has been gloriously renewed, stands in continuity with the present one.” Paul uses the same word, kainos, when he speaks of a believer becoming “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The New Earth will be the same as the old Earth, just as a new Christian is still the same person he was before. Different? Yes, But also the same.[1]

The way the Earth has been for centuries will be changed and hardly remembered (v.17). It will be a time of complete renewal and restoration. The new heavens, perhaps, refer to the destruction of the enemy’s habitation in the invisible realm where he has waged his campaign against humanity. Up to that point, Satan is called the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Luke in writing the Book of Acts, says that Jesus “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (Acts 3:21). The earth will be restored to its pristine beauty and fertility. Those who are alive during the Millennium will long enjoy the fruit of their work, what they plant they will harvest. What they build will be theirs in which to live.

After the rapture and resurrection of the saints, and the wrath of God is poured out, the angels will weed out of Christ’s kingdom all evil. “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil” (Matthew 13:41). This is a period of restoration before the final judgment. It will be a blessed time with people living, in most cases, many hundreds of years as they did in the book of Genesis. Adam lived for 930 years (Genesis 5:5), Seth lived for 912 years (Genesis 5:8), and Methuselah lived for 969 years (Genesis 5:27). The saints, those born again by the Spirit of God, will never die. They are imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:52). I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to that!

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

[1] Randy C. Alcorn, Heaven, published by Tyndale Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2004, Page 149.

The Thousand Year Peace.

We are continuing from our study yesterday on the topic of the Millennium. The thousand-year reign of Jesus on Earth. In the third study of Insights into eternity (In the middle column), we talked about the resurrection of the saints at the return of Christ. Those who are born again and walking with Christ will receive an imperishable body, a body of power that is immortal. This body will be like Christ’s resurrection body, a body that had been sown in dishonor, but raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:43). The saints are given authority to reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4; 1 Corinthians 6:2) and Satan will be bound and thrown into the Abyss (Revelation 20:1-3).

1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. 4I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6 Emphasis mine).

Theologians and scholars call this thousand-year reign of Christ, the Millennium. The word millennium means a thousand. There are three beliefs about the Millennium. The first is called Amillennialism. An Amillennialist believes that the thousand years mentioned five times in the passage above is not a literal number but a symbolic number and represents the time we are in now, the church age. Secondly, there is postmillennialism.  Postmillennialists also believe that the 1000-year period mentioned in the passage above, is not literally 1,000 years. In their view, the church will bring in a golden age of Christian ethics and that Jesus’ Second Coming will come after that period of time. Thirdly, there is premillennialism, to which I personally hold. A premillenialist believes that Jesus’ coming will be after a time of tribulation, that He will raise the saints, those who have been born-again of the Spirit, and that the saints will rule and reign with Him in a literal thousand-year reign on the earth.

The dragon, that ancient serpent that appeared in the Garden of Eden, also called the devil and Satan, will be bound, verse three tells us, in the Abyss (Greek word is Abussos, a word that means bottomless, unfathomed; enormous; unbounded; immeasurable depth). There will be no more war until the 1000 years are up, and after that Satan must be released for a time. Imagine what our world will be like with Satan bound. What changes do you think will come about for those living on earth in total freedom from satanic influence?

For the saints, the Body of Christ, in their new resurrection bodies, there will be no temptation towards evil and sin, and no more deception at work on the earth (Verse 3). Our resurrection bodies will take away all fear of harm. There will be no fear of death. From the point when Jesus returns, the saints are immortal. Our sin nature, also, will be taken away, and there will be no desire to sin at all. Because we will be operating in a totally free capacity, our creativity will be unleashed. We will see our bodies, souls and minds operating at a totally different level, free from constraint. We will experience life as God intended us to know it. Oh, how I look forward to it! I hope you are too.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Millennium. Keith Thomas

We Shall Be Changed

We are continuing to meditate on 1 Corinthians 15, the topic of the Resurrection Body (scroll down for other meditations), exploring as to what it will be like. When that Day comes, that which God has been shaping us to be on the inside by His Spirit, will be revealed. It won’t be the same as our old nature; Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (Verse 50). It will no longer be perishable but imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53). We won’t all sleep; (not all Christians will die and be separated from their bodies). Those who are still alive at the coming of Christ will be transformed instantly without going through the experience of death. When Christ comes, in a flash, in the wink of an eye’s time, we will be changed from having a perishable body to being clothed with an imperishable body (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Paul the apostle writes in a different place about this transformation of our bodies:

…the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21).

This word that is translated transform is the Greek word Metaschēmatizō. It is a construction of two Greek words. Meta means a change of place or condition, and schēma means shape, or outward form. To transform, change the outward form or appearance of something, refashion, reshape.[1]

An imperishable body means that it won’t age or get sick. Our new bodies will be glorious all of the time. You will always have youthful strength and be radiantly beautiful with God’s glory radiating from you. I believe that just as Jesus walked through walls into the upper room where the door was locked for fear of the Jews (John 20:19), we will also be able to pass through walls and travel instantaneously, not bound by the physical realm. Our new bodies will not be limited to only one sphere of existence. We cannot comprehend this now, as we are limited to this dimension on earth,  but just as a huge, sprawling oak tree could not be compared to the seed from which it grows, our spiritual bodies will transcend what we can imagine. We do not have anything to compare it to.

Paul says that our new body will be like Christ’s glorious body (Philippians 3:20). This radiance that accompanies us will be both authoritative and beautiful. Jesus said that, “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father (Matthew 13:43. Emphasis mine). Those that are Christ’s will command respect, a respect that is born of wisdom that is from above. There will be a kindness and joy that will be ours. It will also be a powerful body (1 Corinthians 15:43). I don’t think that this speaks only of strength, although that certainly will be part of it. I think that there will be a power and authority to work the miraculous just as Jesus did and still does. We will participate with Him to not only worship Him, but to do His will. Our bodies will be raised and we will see His face and be transformed into His image. Daniel the prophet also speaks of that time in this way:

1“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:1-3).

Daniel says that this will happen at a time when there will be a time of distress such as never before. But at that time everyone whose name is written in God’s book–will be delivered. I believe that what Daniel is talking about is the rapture of the saints at some time during the tribulation or time of distress. Daniel says that those who invest their lives to touch others for Christ, will be like the stars for ever and ever. I cannot comprehend what it would mean to shine like a star, but it sure sounds like a reward that would be wonderful, worth my effort and devotion to Christ in this life! That which God has been doing on the inside of you and through you will be made known and it will be glorious, the chrysalis of this old decaying body will put on an immortal body, just like our Lord’s. It will be time to go home! Graduation day at last! Far from being the end that we see when we look at the death of an earthly body, there will be a glorious new beginning which one day will manifest physically in a body like His own glorious resurrection body, for He is the First Fruit, and we shall be like Him. May you be found in Him in that day, and worship with us.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Resurrection Body. Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Page 1651.

Part 2. The Seed of the Body (Scroll further down for Part 1)

We are continuing in our meditation of what the resurrection body will be like. Paul the apostle wrote using the analogy of a seed and a plant in his first Corinthian letter (1 Corinthians 15:35-57). He wrote about Adam, the first man, being a living seed to bear all of us in his image. He then went on to say that the Last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit (Verse 45). Paul had already written earlier that what happened to Adam happened to us all. He was representative of all of us because he was the federal head of the human race. It may not seem fair for all of his progeny to inherit his sin nature, because the life of that seed, Adam’s sin nature, was passed to all of us. But Christ has come Himself to be the federal head for all who receive His full pardon. In this way, God brings new life through another seed, one that is perfect and free from sin. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). Just as Adam gave us our physical body, and with it, our sin nature, Christ also gives us this seed of new life planted in our hearts. He came to give us life!

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

The body that is sown in the ground is completely different from the one raised. Our resurrection body will be raised imperishable, which means that it cannot perish. It will not wear out, grow old or ever get sick or diseased. Just as we received life in the physical realm from Adam, our forefather, so Christians receive spiritual life from the last Adam. Christ is called the Last Adam, to say that we should not expect another. As we have put on Adam’s likeness, thanks be to God, we will also put on the likeness of the glory of Christ.

50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:50-57).

Oh, how I long for that Day to arrive. Death has been conquered by our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to His glorious name!

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Resurrection Body. Keith Thomas

The Seed of the Body (Part 1)

We are continuing our thoughts on what the Resurrection body is like that we are given at the coming of Christ (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). The apostles John and Paul wrote about this transformation in this way:

  1. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).
  2. Just as our physical life was inherited from Adam in that we became like him, in the same way we will also be like the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, at the Resurrection: 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49).
  3. But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, that there will be varying degrees of glory between believers that occurs at this change (vv. 38-42). He likens it to differing degrees of brightness between planetary stars and planets. Our physical bodies have been created by God to live in the physical realm, however, this body is to be redeemed and changed into the spiritual and physical body that God has planned for us to put on. Those who are Christ’s will shine with God’s glory according to how much of the character of Christ is in us.

The life that we received from Adam, is not enough for us to enter this heavenly kingdom without this addition of the life we receive from Christ—the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). I believe that God’s plan for redeemed humanity, the Church of the Living God, is for the saints to be able to live in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm, just as Christ did in the 40 days after His resurrection. Christ Jesus has not left His body on Earth somewhere; He abides in heaven with a physical yet spiritual resurrected body. Isn’t that true of Enoch, the man of God? God enjoyed his company so much that he took him up to heaven in his physical being: “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).

We are told the same thing of Elijah. He, too, was taken up to heaven still clothed with his physical body (2 Kings 2:11). Some say that Enoch and Elijah are the two witnesses that are mentioned as testifying to the world’s sin as mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11:3). These two individuals have yet to die once (Hebrews 9:27), so it is possible that they come from heaven to testify of God’s grace and then are killed. Of course, three and a half days later God raises them from the dead much to the anger of Antichrist’s followers (Revelation 11:11). Spiritual life only comes at the death of the physical seed planted; the Lord Jesus Christ was that heavenly spiritual seed that gave His life for us as a seed:

23Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:23-25).

We’ll carry on this thought of the seed of the body tomorrow.

Taken from the series Insights into Eternity found in the middle column. Click on the study The Resurrection Body. Keith Thomas