The new earth will be the eternal home of the redeemed. God's plan of salvation includes the transformation of the earth as well as the redemption of man. Christ and His glorified saints will dwell upon this planet which will be cleansed, purified, and transformed into the paradise of God.
The Bible contains many prophecies concerning the new earth and God's plan for this planet. "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. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:1, 2). "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" (Isa. 65:17, 18). "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" (Isa. 66:22, 23). "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:13).
I. The Earth Will Abide Forever
The Bible pictures the earth as the future home of the redeemed and teaches that the earth will abide for eternity. God created this planet for a specific purpose, and His plan eventually will be realized. Isaiah wrote, "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" (Isa. 45:18). "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever" (Eccl. 1:4). "Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever" (Psa. 104:5). "Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth" (Psa. 119:90). According to these verses, the earth will abide forever. This planet will be purified and transformed, but it will not be destroyed.
II. The Inheritance of the Saints
In His Word, God promises believers that they will inherit the earth. Jesus taught, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). "His seed shall inherit the earth" (Psa. 25:13). The major refrain of Psalm 37 is that the wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will inherit the earth. "For evildoers shall be cut off : but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" (Psa. 37:9). "The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psa. 37:11). "The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever" (Psa. 37:18). "For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off " (Psa. 37:22). "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever" (Psa. 37:29). "Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it" (Psa. 37:34). "The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men" (Psa. 115:16). "The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth" (Prov. 10:30). "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth" (Prov. 11:31). Jesus taught the disciples to pray: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). Christ's Kingdom will be on earth; the saints will dwell in that Kingdom with Christ. "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him" (Dan. 7:27). "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10).
Inheritance of the earth has been promised to believers through the Abrahamic Covenant. God promised Abraham and his seed the land of Canaan (Gen. 13:14, 15; 17:7, 8) and the world (Rom. 4:13) for an everlasting possession. Christ is the one specific Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16), and through Him the promises will be fulfilled. Through conversion to Christ, believers become Abraham's seed also, joint-heirs with Christ, and heirs to the promises. "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29).
III. Christ's Kingdom Will Be on the Earth
This planet, earth, belongs to God. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods" (Psa. 24:1, 2). God has the right to give the earth to whomever He desires. God has given this planet to His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as His inheritance and possession. "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Psa. 2:6-8). The earth will be the inheritance of Christ not only because He is the Seed of Abraham and the Heir of the Abrahamic Covenant, but also because He is the Son of God.
Christ's future Kingdom will be upon earth. He will occupy David's throne (Luke 1:32, 33; Isa. 9:6, 7; Acts 2:30), with Jerusalem as His capital city. (Matt. 5:35; Isa. 2:2, 3; Zech. 14:16; Rev. 21: 2-27; 22:1-5.) Christ's future Kingdom is described as being "under the whole heaven" (Dan. 7:27) and as covering the entire earth. "And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:14). "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth" (Psa. 72:8; also Zech. 9:10). As King, Christ will reign on the earth and will execute judgment in the earth. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" (Jer. 23:5). Our Saviour, according to these verses and many other texts, will reign on this planet as its Owner and King. Glorified believers will be joint-heirs with Him and will reign with Him on earth. (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 3:21; 5:10; 20:4, 6; 22:5.)
IV. The Earth Made New
The new earth will be this planet which will be cleansed and transformed. The earth in its present condition is referred to as "the first earth" (Rev. 21:1) and "the heavens and the earth, which are now" (2 Pet. 3:7). Through future divine judgment, the earth will be renewed and transformed. The earth needs to be purified because it has been polluted and misused by sinful mankind. Man's spiritual disruption is the cause of earth's physical disruption. We know that, because of man's sin, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom. 8:22). God's plan of salvation, however, includes the redemption of the earth, and, eventually, this planet will be transformed into a paradise. "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:19-21).
"He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Note that God said, "I make all things new." He did not say that He will make all new things, but all things new. The earth will not be annihilated; it will be renewed. God will not burn up this planet, remove the ashes from this spot in the solar system, and then put a different planet in its place. God will not make a new planet; He will make this planet new. In redemption, God will take the things which man has misused, perverted, and twisted, and make them new. God will take this planet and will purify and transform it.
V. God's Glory in the New Earth
The new earth will be the setting for the eternal revelation of God's glory. This planet, which was scene of paradise lost, is destined to be the scene of paradise restored. Earth will be made heavenly; it will be pervaded through and through with glory. Unbelievers complain that Bible prophecies make heaven earthly; according to God's plan, however, He will make earth heavenly. These persons assert that these prophecies make glorious things materialistic; God's Word teaches, however, that some day He will make material things glorious.
As sinners, saved by the blood of the Lamb, will be testimonies of God's amazing grace (Eph. 2:7) through ages of eternity, so this planet, purified and transformed into the paradise of God, will be the "theater of the universe," the setting or scene for the revelation of His eternal glory.
God promised, "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord" (Num. 14:21). Habakkuk, the prophet, predicted, "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). After describing the glory of Christ's future Kingdom, David, the psalmist, exclaimed: "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen" (Psa. 72:18, 19).
(Adapted from Systematic Theology, by Alva Huffer, published by Church of God General Conference, Oregon, Illinois 61061, U.S.A.)
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