2 Peter 3: The New Heaven and the New Earth!

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Bible Study from 2 Peter 3:13-14

The New Heaven and the New Earth!

by I Gordon


We have seen so far that the context of chapter 3 deals with the last days and the Lord's return. More specifically, we saw in the last study that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in these last days, catching out a world very much asleep to the things of God. We saw also that there is a threefold purpose for the day of the Lord -
to judge a sinful world, to bring about revival, and to break Israel's natural strength so as to bring them to the place where they will cry out for their Messiah to return. This brief study moves us one step further on in God's plan. We are simply going to focus on two verses in 2 Peter chapter 3 and we'll just ask ourselves a few questions that logically arise from this. Let's have a look at the passage.

There is a New World Coming!

2 Peter 3:13-14 'But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.'

From the passage before us, we see that a promise is made. This brings up the following questions...

1) Who is making this promise?
2) What is the promise?
3) Why is there a need for this promise?
4) What are we called to do in view of this promise?
5) What hope and expectation can we have regarding this promise?

Ok, simple enough hopefully! Onto the first question...

1. Who is making the promise?

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that the promise of a new heaven and a new earth is made by God Himself! Seeing that He is the one who made the first heaven and earth, it kind of stands to reason that He is the only one capable of promising another one! Now, a promise is only as good as the character of the one making that promise. If a con-artist promises you a great deal then beware. If I promise to do something then I'll definitely do my best but a chance remains that it won't come to pass (unfortunately... sorry 'bout that!) But if God promises something then that is a whole different story. His character and His ability to carry out what He has promised make it a 100% guarantee of fulfilment.

2. What is the promise?

Another no-brainer hopefully. The promise is that we are going to get a new heaven and a new earth! Things are not always going to be like they are now! You may remember that we saw in the previous study this passage from Isaiah -

 Isaiah 24:20 'The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls - never to rise again.' 

This current earth will fall. It is pictured as being weighed down by sin, and as Isaiah prophesied, it will not rise once it has fallen. But thank God that that isn't the end of the story! He has made a greater promise to us that there will be a whole new heaven and earth!  [1] 

3) Why is there a need for this promise?

Ok, so I have already half answered this above. The promise of a new earth is a necessity because of the state of this current earth... It is wearing out! The Psalmist spoke of this very thing in Psalm 102:25

 'In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain;  they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded  . But you remain the same, and your years will never end.  The children of your servants will live in your presence  ; their descendants will be established before you.' 

While it is slightly off the topic, here is an interesting quiz question for you...Who is speaking in Psalm 102:25 above? It is the Psalmist speaking about God creating heaven and earth right? Um, wrong. Check out the footnote on this very interesting passage!  [2] 

Ever had a favourite shirt that you just hoped was going to last forever? Sure enough, it gets stretched, stained, holes appear and though you go on wearing it for far too long you know that it's soon going to become your favourite dust rag! Well, the Bible declares that this earth is like that garment. It, like you and unfortunately me, is getting old and it's getting tired. Creation, the Bible says, is groaning! (See Rom 8:18-23).

4) What are we called to do in view of this promise?

So, what do we do with the promises of God?  [3]  What does the verse say? It says 'Therefore beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless...' (vs 14 NASB)

So, first of all it says 'look'. To look is to turn your gaze upon something. We may not look for this promise of a new heaven and a new earth with our physical eyes, but we can with our spiritual eyes!  [4]  You look spiritually when you take the time to stop, think, and meditate on that which God has prepared for those who love Him. The second command is also crucial. 'Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless...' Don't go to sleep! Keep alert and abide in Him. As John tells us in 1 John 2:28  'And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.' 

Finally, let's take a brief look at the characteristics of this new world that is coming!

5) What can we expect regarding this promise?

Well, firstly, we can expect righteousness! Complete righteousness! You know all those fleshly attitudes that run in your veins and pull you in all sorts of directions? Yeah, you know... the ones that have you filled with pride one day and full of self pity the next! Well, it will be gone! The greed, the lust, the spiteful words...the self absorbed nature that we currently have... all gone! Righteousness, Peter tells us, will be at home! It will be permanently at home! John gives us an even better glimpse of what we can expect (and he should know because he was given a vision of the whole thing!)

Rev 21:1-5 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said, Write: for these words are faithful and true.

When Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away but His words would never pass away, He meant it! He knew that this earth would pass away. But how much better is the description that we read above! A new heaven and a new earth! No more tears, no more sickness, no more pain, no more death  [5]  ! All of that stuff, in God's view, was just the first order of things. We live with them every day but they were never intended to exist forever! And they won't. Solomon once said that there was nothing new under the sun. But there is something new under THE SON. In Christ, we are new creations, we look for our new bodies, long for the new Jerusalem, and will dwell in the new heaven and new earth.

In closing, I would just like to draw your attention upon the two things specifically that John tells us 'behold:

Firstly, he says behold this - the dwelling place of God is with men! Far out! If you have got a glimpse of the awesomeness of God then that statement should blow you away somewhat. That was God's plan from the very beginning - that He would dwell with us and be our God. Great thought.

Secondly, John tells us to behold this fact - God will make all things new. Now, something can be new in regards to time or character. The new heaven and the new earth will be both. It will be new in regards to it being a brand new creation that God will make in a point of time. But it will also be new in regards to its character. It will not be like this world in terms of its character. As we saw earlier - it will be the home of righteousness... the home of peace... the home of joy. Let's close with Peter's words again...

' But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.'

[1] ↩  Even the Old Testament spoke of this. The prophet Isaiah who spoke the fall of this current earth again spoke by the word of the Lord saying ''Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.' (Isaiah 65:17-19)

[2] ↩  When you read through Psalm 102 you could be forgiven for thinking that it is expressing the thoughts of the Psalmist towards God. But it's not! The Psalmist, writing by the Spirit of God, is recording is a conversation within the trinity! In the verse before us, Psalm 102:25, the writer of Hebrews specifically states that this passage records God the Father speaking to His son Jesus! Now that makes the whole thing very fascinating! See Hebrews 1:5-10. William MacDonald, in his Bible Believers Commentary, writes on Psalm 102 'Here as nowhere else in the Bible we are enabled to listen in on a conversation that took place between the three Persons of the trinity when the Lord Jesus was making expiation for the sins of the world.' He also provides the following key that should help as you read and study this psalm (yes, you are going to read and study this psalm!)

Verse 1-11 The Lord Jesus, hanging on the cross, speaking to God.
Verse 12-15 The Father replies to His beloved Son (compare verse 12 with Hebrews 1:8)
Verse 16-21 The speaker is unidentified, but we are safe in assuming that it is the Holy Spirit, describing the future restoration of Israel under the Messiah
Verse 23-24 The Saviour is heard once more as He suffers at the hands of God for our sins.
Verse 24b-28 Again by comparing this section with Hebrews 1:10-12 we know that the Father is speaking to His Son.

[3] ↩  When a Pastor asked this question to his congregation one day, a dear old lady replied 'I underline them in yellow!' Nice answer! I like that. But there may be a little more too it than that!

[4] ↩  As an example, consider Abraham. He was called to leave his home not knowing where he was going! His motivation? Well, we read of that in Hebrews 11 'He was looking for a city whose architect and builder is God.' He was 'looking' to his heavenly home and that made it possible to endure.

[5] ↩  My old car had some serious problems. It had been broken into 6 times, stolen twice and had had its locks punched out three times. It also leaked and ran like a dog (... but I loved that old girl!) Well anyway, when I got my new car, I kept thinking that all my old problems were still there. For instance, when it started to rain, I'd be thinking, 'Ah, the boot's gunna get water in it again'. And I'd have to tell myself 'No, you have a new car, all those old problems are gone!' When it was cold I'd think 'Mmmm, wonder if she will start, or whether I'll be back firing down the road!' And again I'd have to say 'No, think, that is all passed. You've got a new car!' Well strangely, this went on for a while. I guess what I'm trying (a tad poorly) to say, is that there was this great sense of relief that all the full list of problems that I had were gone in one swoop when I got the new car. All these things that I had worried about were all wiped out. And one day, all of the problems you and I currently have will be dealt with forever, instantaneously. We will never have to worry about them ever again. 'Behold I make all things new' says the Lord. 'The old order of things has passed away'. I like those words.