|Chapter 27: THE NEW EARTH
Seventh-day Adventists Believe...
On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will
provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect
environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in
His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His
people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The
great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more.
All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is
love; and He shall reign forever. Amen.--Fundamental
THE NEW EARTH
After a close brush with death a boy said in relief, "My
home's in heaven, but I'm not homesick." Like him, many feel
that at death heaven is a preferable alternative to the
"other place," but that it runs a poor second to the reality
and stimulus of life here and now. If the views many have
about the hereafter were true, this feeling would be
justifiable. But from the descriptions and hints Scripture
provides, what God is preparing for the redeemed to enjoy so
outshines the life we live now that few would hesitate to
give up this world for the new one.
The Nature of the New Earth
A Tangible Reality
The first two chapters of the Bible tell of God's
creation of a perfect world as a home for the human beings
He created. The Bible's last two chapters also speak of
God's creating a perfect world for humanity--but this time
it's a re-creation, a restoration of the earth from the
ravages sin brought.
Over and over the Bible declares that this eternal home
of the redeemed will be a real place, a locality that real
people with bodies and brains can see, hear, touch, taste,
smell, measure, picture, test, and fully experience. It is
on the new earth that God will locate this real heaven.
Second Peter 3 tersely summarizes the scriptural
background of this concept. Peter speaks of the antediluvian
world as "the world that then existed" and was destroyed by
water. The second world is "the earth which now exists," a
world that will be cleansed by fire to make way for the
third world, "a new earth in which righteousness dwells"
(verses 6, 7, 13).(*1) The "third" world will be as real as
the first two.
Continuity and Difference
The term "new earth" expresses both a continuity with and
difference from the present earth.(*2) Peter and John
envision the old earth cleansed by fire from all defilement
and then renovated (2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1).(*3) The new
earth is, then, first of all, this earth, not some alien
place. Though renewed, it will remain familiar, known--home.
That's good! It is, however, new in the sense that God will
remove from the earth every blemish sin has caused.
The New Jerusalem
The New Jerusalem is the capital city of this new earth.
In the Hebrew language, Jerusalem means "city of peace."
The earthly Jerusalem has seldom lived up to its name, but
the name New Jerusalem will accurately reflect reality.
A Connecting Link
In one sense that city links heaven and the new earth.
Primarily, the term heaven means "sky." Scripture uses it to
refer to (1) the atmospheric heavens (Gen. 1:20), (2) the
starry heavens (Gen. 1:14-17), and (3) the "third heaven,"
where Paradise is located (2 Cor. 12:2-4). From this
connection of "heaven" with Paradise, it became synonymous
with Paradise, the place of God's throne and dwelling.
Hence, by extension, Scripture terms God's realm and
rulership and the people who willingly accept His rule the
"kingdom of heaven."
God answers beyond all expectations the petition in the
Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven" when He relocates the New Jerusalem to
Planet Earth (Rev. 21:1,2). He not only refurbishes the
earth, He exalts it. Transcending its pre-Fall status, it
becomes the capital of the universe.
The Physical Description
John uses romantic terms to convey the beauty of the New
Jerusalem: The city is like a "bride adorned for her
husband" (Rev. 21:2). His description of the physical
attributes of the city portray to us its reality.
1. Its light.
The first specific attribute John noticed as he viewed
"`the bride, the Lamb's wife'" was "her light" (Rev.
21:9,11). God's glory illuminates the city, making the light
of sun and moon super-fluous (Rev. 21:23,24). No dark alleys
will mar the New Jerusalem, for the walls and streets are
translucent and "there shall be no night there" (Rev.
21:25). "They need no lamp, nor light of the sun, for the
Lord God gives them light" (Rev. 22:5).
2. Its construction.
God has used only the very finest materials in building
the city. The wall is of jasper, a "most precious stone"
(Rev. 21:11,18). The foundations are adorned with twelve
different gems: jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald,
sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase,
jacinth, and amethyst (Rev. 21:19,20).
These gems are not, however, the primary building
material. For the most part, God has made the city--its
buildings and streets--of gold (Rev. 21:18,21), using that
precious metal as freely as people now use concrete. This
gold is finer than any now known, for John calls it "pure
gold, like clear glass" (Rev. 21:18).
Twelve gates, each made of a single pearl, grant access
to the city. "Pearls are the product of suffering: a tiny
irritant slips inside an oyster's shell, and as the little
creature suffers, it transforms that irritant into a
lustrous gem. The gates are of pearl. Your entrance, my
entrance, God provided at infinite personal suffering as in
Christ He reconciled all things to Himself."(*4)
Just as meaningful today as the list of materials that
went into the construction of the city is the fact that the
angel who showed the city to John measured its walls. That
they could be measured, that they have height and length and
thickness, conveys to the modern, data-oriented mentality
the city's reality.
3. Its food and water supply.
From the throne of God in the center of the city flows
the "river of water of life" (Rev. 22:1). And like a banyan
tree with multiple trunks, the tree of life grows "on either
side of the river." Its twelve fruits contain the vital
element the human race has gone without since Adam and Eve
had to leave Eden--the antidote for aging, burnout, and
simple fatigue (Rev. 22:2; Gen. 3:22). Those who eat the
fruit of this tree need no night in which to rest (cf. Rev.
21:25), for in the new earth they will never feel tired.
Our Eternal Home
The Bible makes clear that ultimately the saved will
inherit this earth (Matt. 5:5; Ps. 37:9,29; 115:16). Jesus
promised to prepare for His followers "dwelling places" in
His Father's house (John 14:1-3). As we have noted,
Scripture locates the Father's throne and heavenly
headquarters in the New Jerusalem, which will descend to
this earth (Rev. 21:2,3,5).
The New Jerusalem is the city for which Abraham looked
(Heb. 11:10). Within that vast city Christ is preparing
"mansions" (John 14:2), or as the original word indicates,
"abiding places"--real homes.
But the redeemed will not be confined within the walls of
the New Jerusalem. They will inherit the earth. From their
city homes the redeemed will go out into the country to
design and build their dream homes, to plant crops, and
harvest and eat them (Isa. 65:21).
At Home With God and Christ
On the new earth the promise Jesus made to His disciples
will find eternal fulfillment: "`That where I am there you
may be also'" (John 14:3). The purpose of the Incarnation,
"God with us," will have finally reached its goal. "`Behold,
the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with
them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be
with them and be their God'" (Rev. 21:3). Here the saved
have the privilege of living in the presence of the Father
and the Son, of fellowshipping with them.
Life in the New Earth
What will life on the new earth be like?
Reigning With God and Christ
God will involve the redeemed in the affairs of His
kingdom. "The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the
city, and his servants will serve him....And they will reign
for ever and ever" (Rev. 22:3-5, NIV; cf. 5:10).
We do not know the extent of their rule. However, we may
safely assume that as an important part of their role in the
kingdom, the redeemed will serve as Christ's ambassadors to
the universe, testifying to their experience of God's love.
Their greatest delight will be to glorify God.
Physical Activities in the New Earth
Life in the new earth will challenge the most ambitious
for eternity. The glimpses of the categories of activities
available to the redeemed there whet our appetites, but do
not even begin to delimit the possibilities.
We have already seen the scriptural promises that the
redeemed will "build houses and inhabit them" (see Isa.
65:21). Building implies design, construction, furnishing,
and the potential for remodeling or rebuilding. And from the
word "inhabit" we may infer a whole spectrum of activities
relating to daily life.
The underlying motif of the entire new earth existence is
the restoration of what God had planned for His original
creation. In Eden God gave the first human beings a garden
to "tend and keep" (Gen. 2:15). If, as Isaiah said, in the
new earth they shall plant vineyards, why not orchards and
grain fields? If, as Revelation indicates, they shall play
harps, why not trumpets and other instruments? It was, after
all, God Himself who implanted in humanity the creative urge
and placed them in a world of unlimited potential
Social Life in the New Earth
We will realize no small part of our joy in eternity in
1. Friends and family.
Will we recognize our friends and family after we have
been glorified, changed into Jesus' image? After Christ's
resurrection His disciples had no trouble recognizing Him.
Mary recognized His voice (John 20:11-16), Thomas His
physical appearance (John 20:27,28), and the disciples from
Emmaus His mannerisms (Luke 24:30,31,35). In the kingdom of
heaven, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob still bear their
individual names and identity (Matt. 8:11). We may safely
assume that on the new earth we will continue our
relationships with those we know and love now.
In fact, it is the relationships that we will enjoy
there--and not just those with family and current
friends--that makes heaven our hope. Its many material
benefits "will seem as nothing compared with the eternal
values of relationships with God the Father; with our
Saviour; with the Holy Spirit; with angels; with the saints
from every kindred, nation, tongue, and people; and with our
families....No more shattered personalities, fractured
families, or disrupted communion. Wholeness and
wholesomeness will be universal. Physical and mental
integration will make heaven and eternity the perfect
"The loves and sympathies which God Himself has planted
in the soul shall there find truest and sweetest exercise.
The pure communion with holy beings, the harmonious social
life with the blessed angels and with the faithful ones of
all ages...--these help to constitute the happiness of the
Some of Christ's contemporaries related the case of a
woman repeatedly widowed who had had seven husbands in all.
They asked Him whose wife she would be after the
resurrection. It takes but little imagination to see the
endless complications that would be introduced if the
marriage relationships of this earth were renewed in heaven.
Christ's answer reveals the divine wisdom: "In the
resurrection they neither marry; nor are given in marriage,
but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matt. 22:29,30,
Then will the redeemed be deprived of the benefits now
associated with marriage? In the new earth the redeemed will
not be deprived of any good thing! God has promised that "no
good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly"
(Ps. 84:11). If that is true in this life, how much more
will it be true in the next.
The quintessence of marriage is love. The epitome of joy
is in the expression of love. Scripture says, "God is love,"
and "in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand
are pleasures forevermore" (1 John 4:8; Ps. 16:11). In the
new earth no one will lack for either love or joy or
pleasure. No one there will feel lonely, empty, or unloved.
We can trust that the loving Creator who designed
marriage to bring joy in this present world will have
something even better in the next--something that will be as
superior to marriage as His new world will be to this one.
Intellectual Life in the New Earth
"The leaves of the tree [of life] were for the healing of
the nations" (Rev. 22:2). The healing Revelation speaks of
means more than "cure"; it means "restoration," since no one
there will ever become sick (Isa. 33:24, 20). As they eat of
the tree of life, the redeemed will outgrow the physical and
mental dwarfing that centuries of sin have brought about;
they will be restored into the image of God.
Eternity offers unlimited intellectual horizons. In the
new earth "immortal minds will contemplate with
never-failing delight the wonders of creative power, the
mysteries of redeeming love. There will be no cruel,
deceiving foe to tempt to forgetfulness of God. Every
faculty will be developed, every capacity increased. The
acquirement of knowledge will not weary the mind or exhaust
the energies. There the grandest enterprises may be carried
forward, the loftiest aspirations reached, the highest
ambitions realized; and still there will arise new heights
to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to
comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of mind
and soul and body."(*7)
Spiritual Pursuits in the New Earth
Apart from Christ, everlasting life would be meaningless.
Throughout eternity the redeemed will ever hunger and thirst
for more of Jesus--for greater understanding of His life and
work, for more communion with Him, for more time to witness
to unfallen worlds about His matchless love, for a character
that reflects His more closely. The redeemed will live for
and with Christ. They will rest, fully satisfied, in Him
Christ Himself lived to serve (Matt. 20:28), and He
called His followers to the same life. Working with Him now
is, in itself, rewarding. And the relationship it engenders
offers in addition the greater blessing and privilege of
working with Him on the new earth. There, with great joy and
satisfaction, "His servants shall serve Him" (Rev. 22:3).
Although the redeemed will have the opportunity of
investigating God's treasure house of nature, the most
popular science will be the science of the cross. With
intellects restored to the acuity God intended them to
possess, and with the blindness of sin removed, they will be
able to perceive spiritual truth in a way they can only long
for here. They will make the subject of salvation--a subject
that contains a depth, a height, and a breadth that
surpasses all imagination--their study and song throughout
eternity. Through this study the redeemed will see ever
greater vistas of the truth as it is in Jesus.
Week by week the saved will meet together for Sabbath
worship: "`And from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall
come to worship before Me,' says the Lord" (Isa. 66:23).
There Shall Be No More...
Every Evil Eradicated
Some of the most cheering promises about the new earth
concern what will not be there. "There shall be no more
death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be
any more pain: for the former things are passed away"
(Rev. 21:4, KJV).
All these evils will disappear forever because God will
eradicate every form of sin, the cause of all evil.
Scripture mentions the tree of life as part of the new
earth, but not once does it include there the tree of
knowledge of good and evil or any other source of
temptation. In that good land the Christian will never have
to battle the world, the flesh, or the devil.
The guarantee that the new earth will remain "new"
despite the influx of immigrants from the sin-polluted, old
Planet Earth is the fact that God will exclude the "vile,
the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice
magic arts, the idolaters and all liars" (Rev. 21:8, NIV;
22:15). He must--for whatever sin enters, it ruins.
"Every trace of the curse is swept away....One reminder
alone remains: Our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His
crucifixion. Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands
and feet, are the only traces of the cruel work that sin has
wrought. Says the prophet, beholding Christ in His glory:
`He had bright beams coming out of his side: and there was
the hiding of his power.' Habakkuk 3:4, margin... Through
the eternal ages the wounds of Calvary will show forth His
praise and declare His power."(*8)
The Former Shall Not Be Remembered
On the new earth, Isaiah says, "the former shall not be
remembered, nor come into mind" (Isa. 65:17, KJV). Read in
context, however, it becomes evident that it is the troubles
of the old life that the redeemed will forget (see Isa.
65:16). They will not forget the good things God has done,
the abundant grace by which He saved them, else this whole
sin-struggle would be in vain. The saints' own experience of
Christ's saving grace is the essence of their witness
In addition, the history of sin forms an important
element of the assurance that "affliction will not rise up a
second time" (Nahum 1:9). Thoughts of the sad results sin
has produced will serve as an eternal deterrent to anyone
ever tempted to choose that suicidal path again. But while
the events of the past serve an important purpose, heaven's
atmosphere cleanses those terrible memories of their pain.
The promise is that their memories will not evoke in the
redeemed remorse, regret, disappointment, grief, or
Value of Belief in a New Creation
Belief in the doctrine of the new earth brings a number
of very practical benefits to the Christian.
It Gives an Incentive to Endure
Christ Himself, "for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame" (Heb. 12:2). Paul
renewed his courage by contemplating the future glory:
"Therefore we do not lose heart....For our light affliction,
which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:16,17).
It Brings the Joy and Certainty of a Reward
Christ Himself said, "`Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad,
for great is your reward in heaven'" (Matt. 5:12). Paul
reiterates, "If any man's work abide,...he shall receive a
reward" (1 Cor. 3:14, KJV).
It Gives Strength Against Temptation
Moses was enabled to walk away from the "pleasures of
sin" and the "treasures of Egypt" because he "looked to the
reward" (Heb. 11:26).
It Provides a Foretaste of Heaven
The Christian's reward is not only future. Christ
Himself, by the Holy Spirit, comes to the Christian and
dwells in him as an "earnest" or down payment guaranteeing
the blessings to come (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14). Christ
says, "`If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will
come in'" (Rev. 3:20). "And when Christ comes He always
brings heaven with Him." Communing with Him "is heaven in
the heart; it is glory begun; it is salvation anticipated."
It Leads to Greater Effectiveness
Some view Christians as being so heavenly minded as to be
of no earthly value. But it is that very belief in the
hereafter that gives Christians a solid base from which to
move the world. As C.S. Lewis observed: "If you read history
you will find that the Christians who did most for the
present world were just those who thought most of the
next....It is since Christians have largely ceased to think
of the other world that they have become so ineffective in
this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth `thrown in'; aim
at earth and you will get neither."(*10)
"The wise man will give more care to the carving of a
statue in marble than to the building of a snowman."(*11)
The Christian, who plans on living forever, will naturally
structure his life with more care (and thus impact society
more constructively) than the person who thinks he's
disposable, born only to be thrown away.
The "occupation with celestial themes, which the Holy
Spirit fosters, has a mighty assimilating power. By it the
soul is elevated and ennobled. Its field and its powers of
vision are enlarged, and the relative proportions and value
of things seen and unseen are more clearly
It Reveals God's Character
The world as we now see it grossly misrepresents both
God's character and His original plan for this planet. Sin
has so damaged earth's physical ecosystems that many can
scarcely imagine a connection between this world and the
paradise portrayed in Genesis 1 and 2. Now a constant
struggle for survival characterizes life. Even the life of
the believer, who must do battle with the world, the flesh,
and the devil, does not accurately portray God's original
plan. In what God has planned for the redeemed--a world
untouched by Satan's influence, a world in which God's
purpose rules alone--we have a truer representation of His
It Draws Us to God
Ultimately, the Bible describes the new earth in order to
attract the nonreligious person to Christ. One person, on
hearing that "the earth restored to its Eden beauty, as real
as `the earth that now is,' was to be the final home of the
saints," where they would be "free from all sorrow, pain,
and death, and know and see each other fact-to-face,"
"Why," said he, "that cannot be: that is just what would
suit the world; that is just what the wicked would like."
Many "seem to think that religion, with...its final
reward, must be something for which the world could have no
desire; hence when any state of happiness is named, for
which the heart of man, in his fallen condition, would truly
long, they think it can be no part of true religion."(*13)
Nothing could be further from the truth.
God's very purpose in making known what He has prepared
for those who love Him is to attract individuals from their
preoccupation with this world--to help them discern the
value of the next and glimpse in the beautiful things
prepared the Father's heart of love.
In this old earth it is often said that "all good things
come to an end." The best of the good news regarding the new
earth is that it will never come to an end. Then will come
to pass those lyrics from the "Hallelujah Chorus": "The
kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and
of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever" (see
Rev. 11:15; cf. Dan. 2:44; 7:27). And, Scripture says, every
creature will join in the anthem: "Blessing, and honour, and
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever" (Rev. 5:13, KJV).
"The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no
more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and
gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who
created all flow life and light and gladness throughout the
realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the
greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their
unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is
1. See James White, "The New Earth. The Dominion Lost in
Adam Restored Through Christ," Review and Herald, Mar. 22,
1877, pp. 92,93.
2. The English word "new" translates two Greek words used
in the New Testament. Neos "expresses the idea of newness in
respect to time, and may be translated `new,' `recent,'
`young.' It is the opposite of archaios, `old,' `original,'
`ancient.'" Kainos, on the other hand, connotes "newness as
to form or quality, and may be translated `new,' `fresh,'
`different as to nature.' It is opposed to palaios, `old,'
`aged,' `worn out,' `marred.' Kainos is the term that is
used to describe the `new earth'" ("New Earth," SDA Bible
Dictionary, rev. ed., p. 792).
4. Richard W. Coffen, "New Life, New Heaven, New Earth,"
These Times, Sept. 1969, p. 7.
5. Neal C. Wilson, "God's Family Reunited," Adventist
Review, Oct. 8, 1981, p. 23.
6. White, Great Controversy, p. 677.
8. Ibid., p. 674
9. "Clusters of Eschol," Review and Herald, Nov. 14, 1854,
10.C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Westwood,NJ: Barbour and
Co., 1952), p. 113.
11.Fagal, Heaven Is for You, p. 37.
12."Clusters of Eschol," pp. 111,112.
13.Uriah Smith, "The Popular Hope, and Ours," Review and
Herald, Feb. 7, 1854, p. 20.
14.White, Great Controversy, p. 678.