New Heavens & New Earth – Isaiah 65

New Heavens & New Earth - Isaiah 65I had always thought of “new heavens and new earth” as a description of heaven. Look what today’s chapter holds:

17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth – so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore. 18 Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more. 20 “No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only sinners will die that young! 21 In those days, people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. 22 It will not be like the past, when invaders took the houses and confiscated the vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees and will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains. 23 They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the LORD, and their children, too, will be blessed. 24 I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! 25 The wolf and lamb will feed together. The lion will eat straw like the ox. Poisonous snakes will strike no more. In those days, no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Descriptions of heaven like this, I can really relate to. When the Bible goes on about the precious jewels, streets of transparent gold, a pearl as big as a gate, I simply can’t relate. It sounds really nice, but I guess I just can’t picture it. I’ve never had those things or even been around them. Jewels and gold have never meant much to me.

However, when I read descriptions such as the one in this chapter, I get very excited. No more tears? No more goodbye? No more pain? I CAN relate to these things…and I long for heaven.

Now – having said all that…

After reading this section over and looking at a few commentaries on the chapter, I have a few questions. If this is indeed talking about heaven what about some of these things:

I’m confused in verse 20 where it says, “No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only sinners will die that young!” If this is “heaven” what is this about sinners? In heaven people will live to be more than 100, but only sinners will die young. (kinda ruins the Billy Joel song, doesn’t it?)

Furthermore, if this is describing heaven – we’ll live in houses we build? drink wine from vineyards we have to keep up? And what are these hard-won gains we will live to enjoy? Building our own houses? Hard-won gains? Work in vain? WORK? We will be blessed and our children, too? We’ll have children in heaven? Does this mean there will be sex in heaven?

One of the beauties of dBrag and blogs like this is that we get to discuss the scriptures, kinda like they did in the Bible times. I took these questions to a good pastor friend of mine. Here’s his response (he gave me permission to quote him):

Now for the easy part, GOODNESS! I DON’T KNOW! I will propose a hypothesis, however. Possibly one of two things is going on here. One, this is a reference to the Milennial reign of Rev. 20. Not much is known of this time period, except that satan is bound and apparently the nations still exist because he will be released to tempt them again after this 1000 years. Perhaps with satan bound all the rules of life and death are different not unlike the earth before the flood when people lived such long lives. But this would not be an actual physical new heaven and earth, becasue that comes in Rev. 21, only a new way of existence on the old one. Keep in mind that for the Hebrews, heavens usually meant the air and sky where birds fly, and sometimes space where the stars are.

Possibility Two: This is the one I lean towards most as of 11:13 AM CST of 4 Dec. 2006. (Prone to change at any moment) The Jews didn’t have much of a concept of eternal life in the OT. And No idea of a heaven (where God dwells) vs. Hell. So their idea of a perfect existence revolved around living in a place without all the things that plague and hurt them most. The best concept they had of heaven would be a place where you didn’t die young, the old didn’t die without reaching an age considered a full life; If you built a house, you benefitted from it, dug a vinyeard, you enjoyed its fruit. This would be a life in a world free of doom and misfortune (v.24) and a place where the lion would lie safely with the lamb. the punishment of sin from Adam will be lifted and the enmity placed between animals after the flood will be gone. In their limited way of thinking, this would be “heaven” to them. Thats the only way the Holy Spirit through Isaiah could describe it so as to give them an idea of how wonderful it will be. Will there be death as mentioned in v.20? I don’t think so, but for the hebrews of that day the thought of living in a world where those who die young would die at 100 would have been considered Paradise!

I would suggest that our understanding of heaven is probably considerably limited as well. Streets of Gold? Pearly Gates? Many Mansions?? Why would God care about these things? But these are the best we can imagine in OUR limited thinking so they become our image of heaven. Truth be told, there is NO description of heaven that can do it justice. Paul was caught up to heaven and could not describe it.

Makes sense. It’s good to have wise friends, no?

I’m trying to learn how to consider scriptures within the context they were given. In other words, the Jewish culture in the times these verese were written is very different from our American, 21st century culture. You have to consider what was going on around them. You have to consider that they didn’t know Jesus Christ and the whole new covenant in a personal way, they’ve only read about it coming some day.

Good stuff to think about.

Have any thoughts? Please feel free to comment.

peace,
e

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  1. #1 by Joseph on July 5, 2007 - 12:41 pm

    And then I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth….

    I read your article and if you don’t mind, I’d like to offer you my opinion. Feel free to object or agree. Either way, I’m only offering you an opinion based on my studies of this.

    The New Heaven and New Earth are different from the former, but based on exactly as your Minister indicated in “possibility #2”. From a Jewish perspective, things were horrible to them. They were in captivity, many died at such a young age from sickness, plagues, diseases, and torture. When the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and destroyed the city, that time onward to Christ, and even 70AD, contained a great deal of torment, slavery, war, sickness, and death. So from their perspective, righteousness didn’t exist, except in a few whom the prophets spoke to, to include the prophets themselves. Even they (the prophets) were subjected to the same difficulties. Tthe normal life expectancy during the age of their captivity was pretty young; most didn’t reach a ripe old age. Also, keep in mind that the Jewish calendar is not the same as ours. We use the solar calendar, but Jews used a lunar calendar. So a person 30 years old according to our calendar may be 35 years old in Hebrew reckoning.

    Now reading the passage in Isaiah, you must understand that animals are often figures for man. For instance, the Beast of Revelation is a man (or Empire to many) but his (or its) characteristics are that of a Beast. Christ is often referred to as a Lion. But why a Lion? A Lion is a symbol for a King with a loud voice (or roar). What about a lamb, fox, goat, sea creature (Leviathan), sheep, and so forth? I would recommend that anytime you come across a passage speaking to a people (In the Old or New Testament), and you see animals being mentioned, look for the connection because animals are not often considered a direct fulfillment to any prophesy; animals are figures used and applied to mankind. Let’s use another teaching as an example.

    Christ explains to the Apostles, the separation of sheep from goat; the goat on the left hand, and the sheep on the right hand. Just reading this alone should key on two important things:

    1. Goats vs. Sheep
    2. Right Hand vs. Left Hand

    First the goat. Goats, as we know, are destructive and lazy gluttons; they love to eat. These are animals which only think on feeding. And like cat-fish, they are scavengers, eating nearly anything that’s in front of them; as humorous as this sounds. These also are nearly are not easily trained and are not well known for listening to their masters. Well, Christ often referred to the evil Pharisees and Scribes as “shepherds feeding only themselves”. These were those who enforced strict laws governing tithes and offerings to the temple service of worship. This also implies to ministers who’s only goal is to abuse the tithes and offerings provided to them for sustenance, but are actually being exploited for personal gain. Thus, the goat is a representation of false shepherds or greedy people, enslaving strict guide-lines on the poor in order to sustain them.

    Second, the sheep. Sheep are known as quiet and peaceful followers of their shepherds. These eat the green grass which lies in the fields where ever the shepherd leads them. Sometimes sheep are known to wonder, and like a good shepherd, he ensures their return and safety. The sheep in the teaching of Christ are the faithful sheep, which follow their shepherd and obey his voice (His commands via the Holy Spirit). They enjoy peace and safety, and are not afraid in the face of danger because their shepherd will faithfully take care of them. But the false shepherds above (otherwise known as the goats) fled when ever danger appeared. So a fox endangering the flock were lost because the shepherd cared only for himself. But these sheep maintain faith in their shepherd and obey His voice, so they are kept in safety, through a faithful shepherd who will not leave or desert them at the face of danger.

    Thirdly, the Right hand of God. We know that the “Right Hand” of God is God’s working hand. God is Spirit and cannot be seen, and we know he doesn’t physically have a right hand, but signs of His works are given to show that his “right hand” is at work in our daily lives, and for all generations. When scripture teaches that the sheep were placed at his right hand, this is because the sheep are known as God’s creation; God’s doing and workmanship. Scripture says, “For you are God’s creation, which God prepared beforehand, to do good works….” indicating that our good works (If any) are not of ourselves, but of His Grace, teaching, and instruction. When someone gives alms from the heart, he or she does so because of the Holy Spirit (Divine Inspiration). Thus, the sheep at the right hand are symbolic for God’s workmanship and God’s accomplishments via His grace.

    Lastly, the goats on the left hand. As stated before, goats are useless consumers who only take, but never give. Thus they are judged as those who turn a cold heart to those in need, and they do not have a shepherd to guide them. (Now this is important) You’ll never read a passage speaking of God using his left hand. Now you may have heard of Satan being left handed, but there’s no scripture that I know of which supports this. But for argument reasons only, we’ll say that Satan is left handed. Well, just as the sheep are known to be God’s working right hand, the goats are those who represent the Devil and Satan. Just as the sheep are known as the workmanship of God, the goats are the workmanship of the Devil.

    Now I explained this in order to show you how merely taking words at face value often leave one with many questions. But when you read in context of the passage, asking who, what, where, when, why and how, and as long as you pay attention to the metaphoric expressions (animals, heavens, sun, moon, stars, hills, mountains), things become clearer and will make sense.

    Therefore, what does Isaiah mean when he speaks of the Lion abiding with the sheep, fox, ox, or what ever other creature? Think about it, and have fun learning this on your own. That’s how I was instructed to do so that your happiness and joy comes from God and not man. Pray, read, and research, but don’t merely look for answers, or you’ll end up trying to choose the one you like the most. Read and be blessed.

    The Grace of God is with you my friend.

    Joseph from SC.

  2. #2 by Lea on September 18, 2007 - 12:57 am

    This is one of my favorite bible passages, so I just had to say something! I think it is talking about a time when God will renew the environment, just like he did in Noah’s time. I think it is a picture of the world as it should be. When people will enjoy the result of their work without someone else taking it from them. When sickness and death are rare events. When even the animals are friends. It is talking about the earth when Jesus is the king in Jerusalem…God’s holy mountain. While the saved Christians are living the eternal life that they are promised the rest of the world will benefit as well. I personally don’t have a problem with ‘working’ in God’s kingdom…. without ‘work’ we would all be depressed and unmotivated. The difference is that this ‘work’ is worthwhile.

  3. #3 by Angel on February 9, 2008 - 8:00 pm

    Isa 65:17 is the literal earth, I can give you the answers you seek by way of scriptures From Gods word, ONLY if you really want to learn the truth.

  4. #4 by Mr.Choice on December 29, 2009 - 11:20 pm

    Hey, there will be NO MORE death in the new heaven and earth. In fact, death and hades are cast into the lake of fire by God when Jesus Christ returns. Once one makes it to heaven, he escapes death forever.

    Revelation 20:14.

  5. #5 by Barry on January 2, 2010 - 7:12 pm

    I believe it’s a description of the new earth not of the new ‘heaven’ where God dwells. Heaven (singular) where God dwells is already perfect. New heavens here refers to the air & possibly space. The new earth is similar to what earth was when God created Adam. Notice that in Genesis the heavens were different from what they are today. There was no rain for the first almost 1000 years!

    It seems hard to accept that there will be people on this physical earth who will reproduce, die, build houses etc, but that is what the Bible says here. To say that this is the only way to describe ‘heaven’ to Hebrews is ridiculous! Firstly it never mentions ‘heaven’ (it’s ‘heavens’), and this is a literal description of the new earth and specifically the new Jerusalem.

    Further scripture about the new heavens and new earth is in Rev 21 which also mentions the leaves of the tree of life which are for the healing of the nations (non Jews).

    So it seems there will be different places in the new creation. A new earth, a new Jerusalem which descends from heaven, nations, etc

    So when it says there will be no more death, tears, sickness etc we have to ask where? In the New Jerusalem? Yes, those things definitely apply to the New Jerusalem. Let’s look at Rev 22

    “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

    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”

    So the context here (in Rev 22) is the New Jerusalem! Isaiah 65 doesn’t mention the New Jerusalem, just Jerusalem. So we can see that Isaiah 65 describes Jerusalem on earth in the new creation and Rev 22 describes the New Jerusalem descending from heaven in the new creation. Two different places!

    No need to try an explain away verses of scripture if you don’t understand them. Just accept that if it seems to be a contradiction at first that there are probably some details you still need to research. Jesus went to prepare a place for us (his children) which is the New Jerusalem. For the Jews (His servants) who are not yet resurrected and still alive they have the Jerusalem on earth where Isaiah 65 gives us the details.

    God’s covenant with Israel is an everlasting covenant (from generation to generation) and without a current generation there can’t be a next generation, hence we see Jews in the new creation on earth reproducing, building houses, and enjoying the blessings of the covenant.

    I pray the Lord gives us all understanding by the Holy Spirit.

  6. #6 by Cris on April 15, 2013 - 4:44 pm

    I agree. The Bible talks about thre different places when it refers to the New Creation. 1) The earthly Jerusalem, 2) The Heavenly Jerusalem coming down as a bride and the rest of the nations…

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