We Look For New Heavens And A New Earth
The natural longing which exists within each one of us to "better our situation" and improve upon our lifestyle, grows out of a deeper instinct within the human soul. Our parents wanted us to "have it better" than they did, and we want out children to "do better" than we have. One gets the impression that we human beings are either impossible to please, or else there is an instinct that resides within us which points us to-ward another and incomparably better future than anything we are ever able to enjoy here in this world. I am convinced that the latter is the case. Like the patriarchs of the book of Genesis, "We have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come" (Heb. 13:14). So, no matter how good we have it now, we are never satisfied, nor shall we ever be, this side of heaven.
Peter speaks of the consummation of this present world, with its very elements dissolved, yet concludes upon a clear note of hope:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 3:10-13).
The prospect of being stripped of what we have by the "death knell" of this present universe should give us no joy. After all, there are some very good and pleasant aspects of our beautiful planet which we would hesitate to sacrifice to fiery destruction. Yet, if we could be assured, with absolute certainty, that this is merely a trade-off, and we will come out the better for it, then we could "look for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God." That is the idea. It is not what we lose that is important. It is what we gain in the transaction. This is what really counts.
Peter points out four things we ought to appreciate in order to keep this terrible and wonderful future time in proper perspective:
These things are all to be dissolved. All earthly things, material possessions, earthly power and prestige, worldly accomplishments and ambitions, will be no more. As Christ said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). Some things really matter, while others actually do not. We must keep our perspective: "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth (Col. 3:1-2).
What manner of persons ought we to be? Realizing that this world and its possessions and attainments have no long-term future, no permanency, places the emphasis where it belongs: upon developing Christian character: "holy living and godliness." What will abide is what we send on ahead of us into eternity (Matt. 6:19-20), and the qualities we allow God to develop in us, while here, which make us fit citizens of the heavenly kingdom: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof' (Gal. 5:22-24).
We ought to look for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. As the writer of the Hebrew epistle said: "They that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own . . . they desire a better country" for they are truly "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb. 11:13-16). As the old hymn says, "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through; my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue." We must have the outlook of John who, when robbed of all earthly moorings and sent to the prison-isle of Patmos wrote, "He who testifieth these things saith, `Yea: I come quickly.' Amen: come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
According to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth. The Christian keeps his anchor tied securely to the promises of God. No earthly loss, discouragement or frustration can break the chain. We see beyond this world, its treasures and achievements. There is ahead a destination where we truly can say, "The first things are passed away," and where God will say, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:4, 5). When we consider the terrible evils we will put behind us, "we who are spiritual" can appreciate with great anticipation "new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." How can we? Because God promised! As a popular expression has simply but majestically articulated it: "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."
Guardian of Truth XL: 7 p. 5