The Future of Planet Earth

Revelation 21:1

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
October 2012

We come today to the final topic in the Book of Revelation.  It is the climax of the book.  Let’s review where we have been in Revelation.

1) The first topic is the letters to the seven churches. Jesus wrote a personal letter to seven churches in John’s day in Revelation 2-3. Some of the churches were good and some were bad.  Some received blessings from Christ and some received warnings of judgment if they did not repent.

2) The second topic is the Tribulation Period in Revelation 6-18. It describes three series of Judgments on the earth (seals, trumpets and bowl judgments). It also described the rise of the beast and the false prophet.

3) The third topic is the Marriage of the Lamb. That describes the long-awaited union of Jesus with his people. That is found in Revelation 19.

4) The fourth topic is the Second Coming of Christ in Revelation 19. Jesus returns from heaven on a white horse, followed by millions of armies also on white horses.

5) The fifth topic is the First Resurrection of believers and Millennium. Revelation 20 describes Jesus reigning for a thousand years with his saints.

6) The sixth topic in the book is the Second Resurrection and the Great White Throne Judgment.This is also found in Revelation 20. Millions of people are raised from the dead to stand before God. Two sets of books are opened and the wicked are cast into the Lake of Fire (what John calls “the second death”).

7) The seventh and final topic in the book is the passing away of the old earth and the creation of a new heaven and earth. There are two eternal destinies. Satan, the followers of the Antichrist and all of the unsaved from the beginning of time will go to the Lake of Fire. That is their home. All of the saints from every age will find their home in the New Earth. Those are the only two destinies. You can either spend eternity in the Lake of Fire or you can spend eternity in the New Earth. What will be your destiny?

What will happen to the old earth?  John says that he saw a new heaven and a new earth.  What happened to the old earth?  Will it still be around (perhaps in a better form) or will it be completely gone?

What Will Happen to Planet Earth?

Revelation 20:11 says that it “fled and is seen no more” (20:11 GNT).  Revelation 21:1 says that it “passed away” (21:1).  It will be gone.  Many other verses in the Bible say the same thing.

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. (Psalm 102:25-26)

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; THE HEAVENS WILL VANISH LIKE SMOKE, THE EARTH WILL WEAR OUT LIKE A GARMENT

and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.(Isaiah 51:6)

“You look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about THE DESTRUCTIN OF THE HEAVENS BY FIRE, and the elements will melt in the heat” (II Peter 3:12)

 HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL PASS AWAY, but my words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35)


I tell you the truth, UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH DISAPPEAR, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:18).

Let’s try to summarize what all of these verses are saying.  We can summarize it all in five basic points.

The Earth in Biblical History

1. God created the earth.

The heavens are the work of His hands.  The earth didn’t create itself.  It is in existence because God created it.

2. The earth is old.

We don’t know exactly how old but they have been around for a long time.  Science teaches that the earth is old.  Exactly how old is a matter of debate.

3. The earth is wearing out.

It is showing signs of decay, deterioration and disintegration.  Modern science confirms this fact (the second law of thermodynamics)

4. The earth will not last forever.

The earth will eventually be destroyed It will vanish like smoke.  It will burn up.  Science tells us the same thing.  The Sun is slowly expanding and brightening.  Seven billion years from now, many scientists predict that the sun will reach its maximum size as a red giant and will swallow up the earth.

5. God will create a new heaven and a new earth.

Three biblical writers mention the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1).  Isaiah, Peter and John all mention a new heavens and a new earth in their writings.  Isaiah says that God is going to CREATE a new heave and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).

This will be exciting because we will actually see it.  We did not see God create the first heaven and earth.  We weren’t around.  We weren’t born yet.  Some of the angels saw it but God specifically said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone? (Job 38:4-6).

Will the Earth be Destroyed or Renovated?

Some believe that the earth will not be destroyed but renovated and transformed.  They believe that the earth cannot be destroyed because Ecclesiastes 1:4 says that “the earth abides forever”.  It remains forever (cf. Psalm 78:69; 104:5).  That is what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe and teach.  It is highly that the earth will be renovated and not destroyed (contra Beale) for several reasons.

1) Revelation says that the old earth will pass away.

It does NOT say that the earth was changed, renovated or made better.  The earth will be renovated but that will take place during the Millennium when Jesus rules and reigns on the earth with his saints but Jesus said, “heaven and earth will pass away”.  He did not say that it will last forever.

Skeptics see this as a contradiction.  One verse says that the earth will last forever and one verse that it will pass away.  Which is correct?  They both are.  The word “forever” in Hebrew (olam) does not always mean forever.  It is used of many things which do not last forever (e.g., Leviticus 24:9; II Chronicles 2:4).

2) Isaiah says that God is going to create something new.

God is going to create a brand new earth, not just going to cleanse the old earth.  The word “create” means to make out of nothing.  It is one thing to make something but only God can create something.  He created the old earth out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3) and He will create the new heaven and earth out of nothing.

3) The reference to fire indicates that it will be destroyed.

If you want to renovate a house, you don’t burn it up.  That is what you do when you want to start over and build a new one.  Revelation 20:9 describes a final rebellion on earth against Jesus and it will be resolved by fire.  Fire will not make the rebels better, it will destroy them.  God is not going to use fire just to destroy these rebels but to destroy the entire planet.

What does the word “new” mean?  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1).  We use the word “new” in two different senses.  The word new often means different.  New is in contrast to old.  There are many times in the Bible where the Greek word “new” (καινη) means different[1].

New is used of NEW CLOTHES (Mark 2:21-22).  When we get new clothes, they are different from what we had before.

The Pharisees called some things that Jesus taught a NEW TEACHING (Mark 1:27).  It was different from what they were used to hearing.  They had not heard anything like it.

Jesus gave his disciples a NEW COMMAND (John 13:34).  What does that mean?  The command to love people was not new.  It was part of the OT.  We are to love our neighbor as ourself but this command was new.  It is not a command to love you neighbor.  It is a command to love fellow believers.  It is a command to love Christians.

We will have a NEW NAME in heaven (2:17).  That name apparently will be different from the one we have now.

We will sing a NEW SONG in heaven (5:9).  It will be different from any song we have sung on earth. The word new can also mean, not only different, but better.  New does not always mean better.  Sometimes you buy something new and it does not work as well as the brand you had before.   Other times, new means not just different but better.  The new covenant is different from the old covenant and better than the old covenant.

The old covenant is the Law of Moses.  It was a conditional.  It was a covenant that brought death (II Corinthians 3:7).  It condemned people.  No one was ever saved by keeping the law.  It was also a temporary covenant.  It is no longer in effect.

Paul said that it was done away.  The new covenant brings life.  It results in the knowledge of God (Jeremiah 31:34) and the forgiveness of sins (Jeremiah 31:34; Matthew 26:28).   It is a better covenant.  It is not conditional and it lasts longer.

That is what we see in Revelation 21.  The old earth is gone and John sees a new earth.  The new earth that John sees will be radically different from our world today.  It will even be different from the Millennium.  It will be different from our world today, radically different.

It will also be very different from the Millennium.  It will be a completely different world.  If you think life will be the same at both times, you are wrong.  I want to begin by looking at differences between the eternal state and the Millennium.  What are some of the differences?

Differences Between the Eternal State and the Millennium

The Millennium The Eternal State
Old Jerusalem New Jerusalem (22:1)
Old Earth New Earth (22:1)
Lasts One Thousand Years (20:4) Lasts Forever (22:5)
Sinners Present No Sinners Present (21:8)
A Rebellion will take place No Rebellion Will take place
Death will exist No Death (21:4)
Seas will exist No Sea (21:1). No more big seas or oceans.  That is seventy percent of our planet.   Most of our planet is covered with salt water but not the new heaven.  However, “no sea” here does not mean “no water”.  There will be water in heaven (21:6; 22:1), just no oceans
Night will Exist No Night (21:25). Philo in his book On Joseph called heaven “an eternal day, where there is no night or any kind of shade because around it will shine without ceasing unquenchable and undefiled beams of light” (24.146). Does this mean that there will be no sleep as well?  We do not know if there will be any sleep in heaven but we do know that we will not get tired in heaven.
Sun and Moon will exist No Sun and Moon (21:23; 22:5). There will be no natural lights (no Sun or Moon), which may mean that there will be little or no gravity in heaven.  It makes you wonder what the new heaven will look like without the Sun or Moon.
Marriage will take place No Marriage (Matthew 22:30)
Children will be Born No children born
No Streets of Gold Streets of Gold (21:21)
No River of Life River of Life present (21:6)
No Tree of Life Tree of Life present (22:19)
Salvation Possible Salvation Not Possible (22:11)
A Temple will exist in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40-48) No Temple in Jerusalem (21:22).  That is very different.  It is difficult to conceive of a Jerusalem that is holy without a temple.
Satan in the Abyss Satan is in the Lake of Fire (20:10)
Artificial Lights Exist No artificial lights (22:5). We have all kinds of lamps today (desk lamps, floor lamps, table lamps) but we will not need any of them in heaven.  There will be no need for a light bulb in heaven.  Jesus is the bright and morning star (22:16; cf. 21:23).  He will shine.  The city will shine brightly (21:11) and we will shine brightly (Matthew 13:43).  There will be light everywhere.

The new earth will not just be different from the old earth, it will be better than the old earth.  The city will be pure gold (21:18).  That is a bit of an upgrade from our present earth.  It will have streets of gold (21:22).  Gold is rare today and it is expensive but then it will be so common, the streets will be paved with it. We will walk on it.

The new earth will be so much better than the old earth that we will not even think about the first heaven and earth.  “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).


What is the application that this world will be destroyed?  It should change the way you live.  If everything in this world will be one day burn up, we should not live for this world.  All of our possessions will be gone.  America one day will burn up.  California and New York will be gone but so will the rest of the planet.  “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly live” (II Peter 3:11)


[1] Some argue that the word νέος means new in time and καινός means new in quality but this distinction is not absolute.  The problem is that the two words are used interchangeably in the NT.  Luke 5:38 says, “new (νέος) wine must be poured into new (καινός) wineskins”.  In that passage the two adjectives are used synonymously, not only in the same verse but even in the same sentence.

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