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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 19

New Heavens

II PETER 3:1-17

This age will end with the coming of Christ and the destruction of the entire created universe (heavens) including the earth itself. The elements which will melt with a fervent heat has reference to the many celestial bodies in this great universe. According to verse 13, they will be replaced with new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

The Old Testament likewise confirms the destruction of the heavens and the earth. “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.” Isaiah 51:6. Read also Psalm 102:25-26.

HEAVENS AND EARTH DEFILED

In our carnal imagination we simply think of heaven as some beautiful place where the righteous will live forever after this life. Our saying that heaven is more of a state than it is a place does not set well with those who have been taught to think in terms of streets of gold and gates of pearl. But the truth is, all of God’s universe, including the heavens, has been affected by the fall. It’s going to take the fire of God’s eternal judgment to purge, purify, and destroy the evil that has contaminated the whole creation.

Even in the heavenly realm (heavenlies) there is a warfare going on between forces of good and evil. Although Satan’s head was bruised at Calvary, most of mankind is still ignorant of the victory that was wrought there. Colossians 2:15. It will be the preaching of the cross by a revived and rejuvenated church that will spell Satan’s final defeat. I Corinthians 1:18. Our Lord, the head of the Church, has already triumphed over Satan and the time is near for the Church, his body, to do likewise.

AS A THIEF

We do not know the day nor the hour of his coming which will be like a thief in the night for most of the world. I Thessalonians 5:1-4. “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.”

Because we are so time-oriented, eternity seems far away in a dim vague future. But the truth is, it is just a step beyond us. We will soon be marveling that we lived so much for time and so little for eternity.

In the new creation it will be time that will grow dim and fade from our memories. Isaiah 65:17 says, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

MAN’S GREATEST REGRET

However there will be a time of heartrending remorse and regret when those living in unbelief realize at last their opportunity for eternal life is gone forever. Matthew 13:40-43 says, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth will be the awful result of grim reality that eternity has dawned at last and all hope of salvation is gone. Not only will the lost face eternity with terrible regret but the saved will also stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

The certainty of judgment for all mankind is brought out in many scriptures. Matthew 12:36-37. Romans 2:2-6. Romans 14:10-12. I Corinthians 4:5. Perhaps Revelation 20:11-15 gives us the most vivid picture of the saved and the lost standing before God on that last great day of judgment. This is the day when all men will face the record of their earthly lives.

Those whose names are not found in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. The other books, no doubt, contain the records of the works done in the flesh. Although the righteous are saved from eternal damnation in the lake of fire, many of them will suffer loss. I Corinthians 3:12-15. What we do or fail to do in this life will certainly affect our rewards and our position in eternity. Revelation 22:12. Matthew 25:14-30.

CURSE LIFTED FOREVER

Though we do not as yet know God’s great plan for the ages to come, we can rejoice knowing that the curse will be lifted forever. And greatest of all, the cross will forever stand between the redeemed and the fall such as Adam experienced.

Revelation 21:3-8. “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 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. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful, And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

According to II Peter 3 the world as a whole will not be looking for nor anticipating the coming of Christ. I believe this also includes most of the professors of Christianity as well as the non-professors. No doubt this will be the result of unbelief in general and misinterpretation of the scriptures.

Since we have already dealt with the question of the great deception that surely will and even now exists concerning the coming of Christ, very little more can be said here. However, I might add that many scriptures generally believed to be fulfilled in some far distant future have already been fulfilled and they knew it not. As also stated elsewhere, many scriptures looking to be fulfilled concerning the Jew and Israel have already been fulfilled in the first coming of Christ and the birth of the Church at Pentecost.

Recently a brother asked me, “What about that nation that will be born in a day?” He was simply repeating the popular notion that Isaiah 66:8 had reference to the Jew being restored as the nation Israel in the earth. I told him this was what took place at Pentecost when the Church was born.

I Peter 2:9 says, “ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:”

According to the scripture above we, the Church, the spiritual Jew, are that “holy nation.” This is the nation that was born in a day. And that day was Pentecost.

Another example of this misinterpretation of scripture is the belief in the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem prior to the supposed millennial reign of Christ on earth. It is very evident from a casual study of Peter’s explanation of this scripture in Acts 15:13-17 that the tabernacle of David referred to here was merely a type which pointed to and was fulfilled in the Church.

One thing I am sure of: our world today, though much of it is very religious, is in just as great a darkness as the Jews were at his first coming.

How much scripture is yet to be fulfilled, I certainly do not know. Perhaps far less than we realize. One thing is certain, God is speaking to a little remnant that has ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. It has always been this way. Most religionists are either looking back at what has been or looking forward to what is supposed to be. Blinded by their denominational creeds, doctrines and religious programs they are never able to hear or see what God is doing now.

May I conclude this last chapter (of the original book, that is), which is a feeble effort to share some of the things we believe to be of God, by quoting Paul in II Corinthians 6:1-2. “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”

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