The Passing of Heaven and Earth

Apocalypse on Earth, view from the sun on the planet Earth torn in half and fragments of the Moon in orbit. Decline of civilization. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

/NASA urls:
https://images.nasa.gov/details-GSFC_20171208_Archive_e002131.html
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/when-exoplanets-collide
(https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/bd20307_fnl_lynettecook.jpg)
 https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/exoplanet-apparently-disappears-in-latest-hubble-observations
(https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/stsci-h-p2009b-f-6000x3466.jpg)
https://images.nasa.gov/details-GSFC_20171208_Archive_e000868.html
https://images-assets.nasa.gov/image/PIA11735/PIA11735~orig.jpg
(https://images.nasa.gov/details-PIA11735.html)
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/langley/first-sage-iii-atmospheric-data-released-for-public-use
(https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/sage_iii_poster_a_16x20.jpg)

Many Christians believe heaven and earth will literally be destroyed at the second coming, based on the following statement by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse. After describing the Son of Man coming on clouds of glory, Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:30, 35).

But is that really what Jesus had in mind, that heaven and earth would literally be destroyed one day?

First, on purely logical grounds, such a literalistic interpretation makes no sense. After all, Jesus not only said earth would pass away, but he also said heaven would pass away. Yet why would God destroy heaven? I could imagine God destroying the earth because of mankind’s sins…but heaven? There has never been sin in heaven, and there never will be (Isa. 57:15, 1 Cor. 6:9–10)!  So why would God destroy it?

Moreover, in destroying heaven, God would be destroying his own dwelling place (Deut. 26:15, Ps. 102:19); and he would be doing that because of sins committed by people on earth! Such self-destructive behavior would make no sense. It would be like an earthly king destroying his own palace because of crimes committed by his subjects in their own communities. I could imagine an earthly king punishing these evil people by destroying their communities…but his own palace? Such self-destructive behavior would make no sense from an earthly king, let alone from the perfectly rational God of the universe.

Second, if “heaven and earth” has not passed away, then that means every single part of the Old Covenant/the Law must still be kept…including the Sabbath, physical circumcision, dietary restrictions, feast day observances, and everything else. After all, Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18). Not the smallest part (“jot or tittle”) of the Old Covenant could pass away until “heaven and earth” passed away.

Just about all Christians acknowledge that the Law has passed away, but if that’s true—and it is (see Heb. 8:13)—then “heaven and earth” must have passed away too, per Jesus. And if “heaven and earth” has passed away, then “heaven and earth” cannot possibly refer to the physical planet.

Third, “heaven and earth” is a Hebraism—a Jewish idiom or expression—that refers to God’s method (“heaven”) of relating/dealing with his people (“earth”). And what method was God using to relate to his people when Jesus said “heaven and earth will pass away” (Matt. 24:35)? The Old Covenant. This was the heaven and earth that Jesus said, in AD 33, would pass away within “this generation” (vv. 34–35), and this was the heaven and earth that did in fact pass away in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed. The temple symbolized the Old Covenant age (Heb. 9:8-9), and when the temple was destroyed, it meant the Old Covenant (heaven and earth) had officially passed away. Since that time, God has been relating to his people through a new method/system called the New Covenant, aka: the “new heaven and earth”–and the new heaven and earth is here to stay!

All this can be proven is many ways. For example, consider the context leading up to Jesus’s statement: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Jesus began this discussion, the Olivet Discourse, by telling his disciples that the temple would be destroyed. “Not one stone will be left upon another” (vv. 1–2). Then, the disciples asked when it will happen: “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (v. 3, italics mine). The reason why the disciples automatically thought “end of the age” after Jesus had mentioned the destruction of the temple is because the temple symbolized the Old Covenant age (see Heb. 9:8–9). Without a temple, Jews would not be able to keep the vast majority of the requirements of the Old Covenant, such as animal sacrifices, priestly duties, pilgrimages to the temple three times a year, etc. In fact, without a temple, only 77 positive and 126 negative commandments can be observed—out of 613![1] In essence: no temple, no Old Covenant. The destruction of the temple would mean the end of the Old Covenant age.

Jesus’ apostles also associated the destruction of the temple with Jesus’ second coming (v. 3). Why? Because to a biblically literate Jew in that day—which the disciples clearly were (as their many Old Testament quotations show)—such destruction and judgment equated to a “coming of the Lord.” The Old Testament is filled with examples of such comings of the Lord (Isa. 13:9–11, 19:1; Mic. 1:3–4, etc.). Therefore, since Jesus mentioned the destruction of the temple, the disciples automatically thought “coming of the Lord”–and they wanted to know when it would happen.

After the disciples had asked about the timing of these events (Matt. 24:3), Jesus listed the various precursors—such as false messiahs, persecution, great tribulation, etc. (v. 4–29)—and said it would all happen within “this generation” (v. 34). Then, Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (v. 35). What Jesus essentially meant here is: the Old Covenant (heaven and earth) will pass away, but the New Covenant (“my words”/the new heaven and earth) will never pass away. This interpretation fits the context perfectly. This is exactly what the disciples had originally asked about: the timing of the end of the Old Covenant age (v. 3).

This interpretation also fits well with what the Old Testament saints had prophesied would one day happen. The “heaven and earth” of Jesus’ day, the Old Covenant, had been around for about 1500 years, ever since Moses returned from Mt. Sinai with the ten commandments in hand (Exodus 34).[2] Eight hundred years after that, in approximately 700 BC, Isaiah looked back at this event and described it as the creation of heaven and earth:

“15 But I am the Lord your God,

Who divided the sea whose waves roared [the parting of the Red Sea]—

The Lord of hosts is His name.

16 And I have put My words [the Old Covenant / the Law] in your mouth;

I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,

That I may plant the heavens,

Lay the foundations of the earth [creation of heaven and earth],

And say to Zion [Israel], ‘You are My people’” (Isa. 51:15–16, italics mine).

As noted, the “dividing the sea” (v. 15) refers to the time when God had parted the Red Sea in order to save the Israelites from the pursuing Egyptian army.[3] The passage continues: “I [God] have put my words [the Old Covenant] in your mouth” and “planted the heavens” and “laid the foundation of the earth” (v. 16). This was the creation of heaven and earth, a.k.a.: the Old Covenant. Keep in mind, this cannot possibly refer to the creation of planet earth because this event happened after the Red Sea crossing. Obviously, the planet had to have already been in existence. This creation of heaven and earth refers to the creation of the Old Covenant. This fits both the context and biblical history.

Notice, also, how God says “I have put my words into their mouth” (Isa. 51:15, italics mine). “My words” refers to Old Covenant. Compare this to what Jesus says in the Olivet Discourse: “Heaven and earth [the Old Covenant] will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35, italics mine). “My words” in this case refers to the New Covenant. The Father put his words (the Old Covenant) into Israel’s mouth; and Jesus put his words (the New Covenant) into Christians’ mouths.

After describing the creation of heaven and earth, Isaiah goes on to say in chapter 65–66 that the heaven and earth (Old Covenant) would one day pass away and be replaced by a new heaven and earth (New Covenant): “For behold, I [God] create new heavens and a new earth; and the former [heaven and earth] shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isa. 65:17; see also 66:22). And when would this new heaven and earth (New Covenant) be created? When the Jews rejected the Lord, and the Gentiles sought the Lord:

“I [the Lord] was sought by those who did not ask for Me [Gentiles];

I was found by those who did not seek Me.

I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’

To a nation that was not called by My name [Gentile nation].

I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people [Israel],

Who walk in a way that is not good,

According to their own thoughts;

A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face…

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;

And the former [heaven and earth] shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isa. 65:1–2, 17, italics mine).

As Isaiah says, the new heaven and earth (New Covenant) would be created when the Jews rejected the Lord, and the Gentiles sought the Lord—which happened in the first century! In fact, the apostle Paul quoted this very passage during his ministry because it was finally coming to pass:

“I [the Lord] was found by those who did not seek Me [Gentiles];

I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me…

All day long I have stretched out My hands

To a disobedient and contrary people [the Jews]” (Rom. 10:20–21).

The reason Paul quoted this passage from Isaiah is because it was finally coming to pass. The new heaven and earth was finally being created. Elsewhere, Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, italics mine). The apostle John, too, spoke of the new heaven and earth: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…Then he who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Rev. 21:1, 5). By this time, AD 65, the new heaven and earth was at hand: “Do not seal up the words of this prophecy because the time is at hand” (v. 22:10).

There are many other New Testament passages, too, that refer back to Isaiah 65’s motif of “the Jews rejecting the Lord, and the Gentiles seeking the Lord.” For example, John said “the Lord came to his own [the Jews], but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11); therefore, the Gospel went out to the Gentiles (v. 12). Likewise, Acts says, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you [Jews] first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we [apostles] turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 13:46-47).

Keep in mind, although many Jews rejected the Lord, not all did. Jesus himself was a Jew (John 4:9), as were Paul (Acts 23:6) and the other apostles. In fact, the first Christians were all Jews. There is even a special name given to this first generation of Jewish converts to Christianity: firstfruits (see Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 16:15; James 1:18). There were 144,000 of these firstfruits, symbolically speaking (see Rev. 14:1–5 and 7:4).

Still, most of the Jews rejected Jesus; so the gospel went out to the Gentiles, just like Isaiah had prophesied would happen at the time of the new heaven and earth (Isa. 65:1–2, 17; above).

What else did Isaiah say would happen during this same time period? The judgment of the wicked! “I [the Lord] will not keep silence, but will repay—even repay into their bosom—your [Israel’s] iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together” (Isa 65:6–7). This would be a multi-generational judgment. It would be a judgment of “your [Israel’s] iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together.”

Now compare this to what Jesus said (in AD 30) would happen within a generation:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matt. 23:29–36, italics mine).

Just like Isaiah, Jesus prophesied a multi-generational judgment that would avenge all the innocent blood ever shed, from the blood of righteous Abel—the first person murdered in the Bible—to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom Israel murdered between the temple and the altar. (Many commentators beleve Zechariah was someone in Jesus’ day.) This is the same multi-generational judgment that Isaiah had prophesied about, and Jesus said it would happen within a generation (v. 36). Note: a generation is forty years (Heb. 3:8–10; Num. 14:30–34; Neh. 9:21), which means it would happen by around AD 70.

Peter, too, spoke about this multi-generation judgment on the eve of its fulfillment. In around AD 64, Peter said that Jesus was “ready to judge the living and the dead…The time has come for judgment to begin” (1 Pet. 4:5, 17). 

As mentioned above, Jesus had also spoken about this judgment in the Olivet Discourse (AD 33), and once again said it would happen within “this generation” (Matt. 24:1–34). Jesus then added, “Heaven and earth [the Old Covenant] will pass away, but my words [the New Covenant / new heaven and earth] will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Notice how Jesus said the new heaven and earth “will never pass away.” This, too, matches perfectly with what Isaiah had said seven hundred years earlier regarding the everlasting New Covenant / new heaven and earth: “I [the Lord] will make with them an everlasting covenant. Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people” (Isa. 61:8-9, italics mine)…“For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; and the former [heaven and earth] shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create” (Isa. 66:18, italics mine).

Isaiah and Jesus were clearly talking about the same destruction of heaven and earth (Old Covenant) and creation of the new heaven and earth (New Covenant)—and Jesus said it would happen within a generation. In fact, Jesus tied it to the destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:2, 34–35), which happened in AD 70!

Fourth, the book of Hebrews—which was written in AD 62–63—also confirms (1) that the new heaven and earth refers to the New Covenant, and (2) that it arrived in the first century. In fact, Christians were already receiving it, in part, when Hebrews was being written:

 “22 But you [Christians] have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I [God] shake not only the earth, but also heaven [heaven and earth].’ 27 Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:22–28, italics mine).

Notice the references to the New Covenant and the “shaking of heaven and earth.” Moreover, notice the present tense statements: “you have come…” (v. 22)…“things that are being shaken” (v. 25)…“we are receiving” (v. 28). This was already happening when Hebrews was written in the early AD 60’s. What exactly was happening? Heaven and earth (the Old Covenant) was being shaken (destroyed); and the new heaven and earth (New Covenant), which cannot be shaken, was being received.

Like many Christians, I used to think the new heaven and earth would suddenly come in one cataclysmic moment. But the writer of Hebrews shows it came gradually (“we are receiving”). This was a forty-year process that began during Jesus’ earthly ministry in AD 30 and was completed at his second coming in AD 70, when the temple, which represented the Old Covenant age (Heb. 9:8–9), was destroyed. This is when heaven and earth officially passed away in full…and the new heaven and earth officially arrived in full (see Heb. 8:13).

Consider, also, how the writer of Hebrews says “yet once more I [God] will shake not only earth, but also heaven and earth” (Heb. 12:26, italics mine). This sort of thing had happened before. While the writer of Hebrews does not say when, Peter does. It happened when Noah’s “world” perished in the flood (2 Pet. 3:6). And it was about to happen yet again when the book Hebrews was being written in AD 62/63: “Yet once more I [God] shake not only the earth, but also heaven” (Heb. 12:26–2). This time, God would destroy the Old Covenant world (heaven and earth) and replace it with the new heaven and earth (New Covenant world).

Notice, also, the references to spiritual and covenantal changes. Just prior to describing the “shaking of heaven and earth” (v. 26), the writer of Hebrews says:

“You [first-century Christians] have not come to a mountain that can be touched…but you have come to Mount Zion,[4] to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 12:18–22, italics mine; see also Heb. 11:16).

Hebrews is describing spiritual and covenantal changes. Christians were coming “to a mountain that cannot be touched…to the heavenly Jerusalem…to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.” That’s what the new heaven and earth is all about, the changeover to the New Covenant! The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that Christians in that day were receiving an everlasting covenant: “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will” (13:20–21).

These passages from Hebrews teach (1) the new heaven and earth refers to the New Covenant, (2) the new heaven and earth arrived in the first century, and (3) the new heaven and earth is here to stay! This matches beautifully with what Jesus had said back in the Olivet Discourse: “Heaven and earth [the Old Covenant] will pass away, but my words [the New Covenant / new heaven and earth] will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35)…all these things will happen within “this generation” (v. 34).

Fifth, still another reason we know the passing away of heaven and earth does not refer to the destruction of planet earth is because of Isaiah’s description of what life would be like in the new heaven and earth. People would build houses, work, procreate, sin, and die:

“17 For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;

And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;

For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,

And her people a joy.

19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,

And joy in My people;

The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,

Nor the voice of crying.

20 No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,

Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;

For the child shall die one hundred years old,

But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;

They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 They shall not build and another inhabit;

They shall not plant and another eat;

For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,

And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

23 They shall not labor in vain,

Nor bring forth children for trouble;

For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord,

And their offspring with them” (Isa. 65:17–23).

According to Isaiah, those in the new heaven and earth would procreate (v. 20), build houses (v. 21), work (vv. 21, 23), sin (v. 20), and die (v. 20). In other words, life would continue on in the new heaven and earth—only it would be immensely better than in the old heaven and earth. Why? Because sin will have finally been dealt with. Mankind’s broken relationship with God because of sin—which had begun on the day Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit/sinned (Gen. 2:17, 3:6)—will have finally been restored.

Prior to Jesus and the New Covenant, there was no forgiveness of sin: “Death reigned from Adam to Moses” (Rom. 5:14). The blood of bulls and goats—the Mosaic covenant—could not take away sin (Heb. 10:4). In fact, the Old Covenant actually intensified sin (Rom. 5:20). The Law condemned everyone to eternal death and separation from God because all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). This is why the Old Covenant was called “the ministry of death written on stones” (2 Cor. 3:7).

But in the New Covenant age—the new heaven and earth—God’s people would have their sins forgiven (Heb. 9:26). Man’s broken relationship with God will have been restored, so there would be rejoicing forevermore (Isa. 65:18). Mankind would once again have access to the Tree of Life. As Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:51–54)! Therefore, God’s people would not have to weep at funerals like unbelievers do (1 Thess. 4:13–14). In other words, there would be “no more weeping and crying,” just like Isaiah had said would happen in the new heaven and earth (Isa. 65:19).

There is an interesting background to this “weeping and crying” language. When the Israelites in Egypt were in bondage to Pharaoh (c. 1500 BC), they cried and groaned: “The children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage” (Ex. 2:23). So God compassionately used Moses to lead Israel out of this bondage…and into the promise land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 20), where Israel could rest from their labors (on the Sabbath).

As important as this exodus was in Israel’s history, it pales in comparison to the second exodus, in which Jesus led the faithful—Jews and Gentiles alike—from the bondage of sin into the true promised land, the church, where there is forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and rest from the Law (Matt. 11:8). Moses led the first forty-year exodus (Num. 14:34), and Jesus led the second forty-year exodus (AD 30–AD 70). The first exodus was the type/shadow (foreshadow); the second exodus was the ultimate spiritual reality.

Notice, also, Isaiah’s reference to (New) Jerusalem: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth…But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create [New] Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem” (Isa. 65:17–19, italics mine)

While Isaiah does not specifically use the words “New Jerusalem,” that’s clearly what he is referring to. Compare this passage with Hebrew 12’s description of the heavenly Jerusalem and the new heaven and earth: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…Yet once more I [God] shake not only the earth, but also heaven” (Heb. 12:22, 26; italics mine). The reason for “shaking heaven and earth” was to replace it with the new heaven and earth. This is the “new heaven and earth” and “(New) Jerusalem” that Isaiah had prophesied about, and it was finally arriving when Hebrews was written in AD 62/62!

The book of Revelation, too, mentions these very same motifs on the eve of fulfillment:

“Now I [John] saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Rev. 21:1–5)…“Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand” (Rev. 22:10).

Same “new heaven and earth.” Same “New Jerusalem.” Same “no more tears.” This is the fulfillment of Isaiah 65! And by the time Revelation was written in approximately AD 65, it was “at hand”!

What exactly does “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven” refer to? The church! We can be sure of this for many reasons: One, Hebrews 12:22–24 says exactly that: “But you [Christians] have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn” (italics mine). The New Jerusalem is the church. Two, Revelation describes the New Jerusalem as “a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:1–2). And who is this husband and bride? Jesus and the church (Rev. 19:7–9; Eph. 5:25–27). Three, Revelation describes the New Jerusalem as a tabernacle (Rev. 21:3). The tabernacle was the portable sanctuary (place of worship) constructed by Moses for the Hebrews during their forty-year wandering in the wilderness. This tabernacle was the precursor to the temple, which was a type/shadow of the New Covenant temple/church. Four, Jesus also alluded to the New Jerusalem when speaking to the Samaritan woman whom he met at a well: “A time is coming, and now is, when people will no longer worship God in [physical] Jerusalem; rather, they will worship God in spirit and truth [in New Jerusalem]” (John 4:19–24, paraphrase). This is an obvious reference to the heavenly Jerusalem, the church! While the church had already arrived in part in Jesus’s day (“now is”), it still needed to come in full (“a time is coming”). The latter consummation happened in AD 70, when the physical Jerusalem and physical temple were destroyed and replaced with the heavenly Jerusalem and temple coming down from heaven, per Revelation.

This was also “the place” that Jesus “went away to prepare” at his ascension: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3, italics mine). Compare Jesus’ statement about “preparing a place” to Revelation’s description of “the city/New Jerusalem prepared as a bride for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). Both passages describe something being prepared. Keep in mind, both passages were recorded by John. This is the same event! Consider, also, the passage in Hebrews about “the heavenly city/Jerusalem prepared for his people” (Heb. 11:16). All three passages talk about the same prepared city/New Jerusalem—the church—which Revelation said (in AD 65) was about to come down from heaven. This New Jerusalem did in fact come down from heaven in AD 70, when the physical Jerusalem and physical temple were destroyed and lost their significance.

Possible objection: Revelation said there would be “no more death” in the new heaven and earth (see Rev. 22:1-5 above). How could this have already happened?

Response: Both Jesus and Paul affirm this was fulfilled in the first century. Jesus said “whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26). Likewise, Paul said Jesus “abolished [past tense] death” (2 Tim. 1:10). The kind of death that was abolished, of course, was spiritual death.

See my book The End is Here (available summer 2024) for a detailed discussion about this topic and much more.

Alex Polyak, The Bible Fulfilled 11/3/24


[1] This tradition is first recorded in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b.

[2] There was also a “heaven and earth” prior to this one. See Scriptural evidence below. 

[3] Ex. 14:5–23

[4] Mt. Zion is what the Old Testament saints all longed for (Mic. 4:3; Isa. 2:2, 25:6, 65:25). It was the goal of Scripture. So when the writer of Hebrews says “you have come to Mt. Zion,” he was saying the goal of Scripture had arrived.