The Heavens and the Earth, Old and New
Frequently people say when the views set forth herein are presented to them "Then you do not believe in a heaven." Of course for a person to say he does not believe in a heaven is to deny the greater part of the Scriptures. That there is a place called heaven, no one who believes the Bible can doubt, and that heaven in its highest sense is Godís holy and glorious habitation is abundantly shown. "Hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling place," says Solomon, and the prayer which our Lord taught his disciples begins with these words: "Our Father which art in heaven." The apostle Paul speaks of God as "dwelling in light, whom no man hath seen, nor can see, whom no man can approach unto." These testimonies show that heaven is a place, location, and can be thought of and spoken of separately from the earth and other parts of the universe. Heaven is generally spoken of from our standpoint as being up or above. The literal meaning of the word is "that which is heaved up," that which is above, which is high. "Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool," it is said, in which figure of speech it is represented as above the earth. That it is a place to which persons can go and from whence they can come is clear from the fact that of Christís second coming it is said: "The Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him." Since the Scriptures teach that before this coming takes place, he is at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and since Peter says that God "shall send Jesus Christ, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution," it follows that Christ, in coming from heaven to the earth, leaves one place and comes to another. Heaven is, therefore, a reality, a real place, Godís dwelling place. For Christ to leave the earth and go to heaven he had to ascend; he was taken up into heaven before the gaze of his anxious disciples, upon which occasion the angels said: "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go." Here we have him going and coming. All these and many other testimonies which might be given, go to show that heaven exists as a place, a locality.
THE MARVELOUS UNIVERSE
There is but little revealed to us of the greatness and grandeur of the vast expanse above and about us, the Bible not being a revelation for that purpose, but is fitted to the needs and necessities of only our own planet, which is as a mere speck in the great and marvelous universe. When heaven is spoken of in the Scriptures, its greatness is always either directly expressed or implied as if it were a matter of course; and the higher scientific achievements can ascend in the realms of the starry heavens the more marvelous appears the greatness thereof, and the more awfully real become the words of the Psalmist: "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork." God "sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers." It is "he that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in."
Within the great circle of the heavens, the earth, revolving upon its axis and gliding along its orbit, is but as a very small wheel in the great machinery of the fathomless and limitless universe, while to our short range of view it appears great and wonderful above all others of the worlds which float in the immensity of space. Small as it is, however, compared with Creationís mighty works, it fits its place and performs its part in maintaining the perfect equilibrium which the wonderful laws of the Creator so accurately govern. Scientists tell us that the slight unbalancing of this perfect equipoise would cause the crash of the universe. This might be true were it possible to conceive of the occurrence of such unbalancing with the Creator and upholder off His guard. No power but His could disturb the perfect equilibrium nor cause the smallest cog to slip in the machinery; but were he to see fit to remove or to destroy one or any number of the planets, surely a power and wisdom which could conceive and create such a marvelous system could also, if it were necessary, rearrange it, or see that the slightest change would not cause a crash. It is in the vain attempt to undermine the Bible in its account of Joshuaís long day and of miracles generally, that this supposed crashing result is assumed, and in this attempt the wisdom and power of the Creator are admitted and declared, it never seeming to occur to those scientists that laws so perfect and arrangements and adjustments so complete that the slightest disturbance would be attended with such tremendous results must have emanated from One whose wisdom and power answer exactly to the Bible description of God.
But will God ever destroy the earth? We may reasonably ask, why should he ever do so? Is it because evil has come upon it and unfitted it for perpetual existence? If so, has evil frustrated his purpose and made it necessary to blot out of existence a part and then rearrange and readjust the rest of the universe? This cannot be; for he has promised that the earth shall be filled with his glory as the waters cover the sea; and that its perpetuity is assured is declared in unmistakable language.
THE PERPETUITY OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH
Eccl. 1: 4--One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever.
Psa. 104: 1-5--Blessed be the Lord * * * who laid the foundation of the earth that it should not be removed forever.
Psa. 119: 90--Thy faithfulness is unto all generations; thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
The perpetuity and stability of the ordinances of the earth are compared with the certainty of the fulfillment of Godís promises; the one can no more cease than the other can fail.
To show the certainty of the
fulfillment of Godís covenant with
Jer. 31: 35-36--Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar: the Lord is his name: If those ordinances depart from me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.
Jer. 33: 20-21--Thus saith the Lord: If ye can break my covenant of the day and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day or night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne and with the Levites, the priests my ministers.
Nothing, therefore, can ever change the ordinances of the heavens and the earth, and we need have no fear of scientists who guess that some time in the distant future the supposed internal fires of the earth will break out and our abode go off in smoke; nor need there be an alarm at the delusions of some preachers who declare that the earth is to become a great bonfire and consume away.
When it is shown that God has promised the earth, not heaven, to the righteous as their everlasting inheritance we are often told that such is impossible because the Scriptures declare that the earth shall be burned up. It cannot be that God has lost sight of this final catastrophe which is supposed to await this terrestrial sphere and predicated the certainty of the fulfillment of his promises upon the perpetuity of the earth and its ordinances when, instead of its existence being perpetual, it is to explode and pass away in fire and smoke.
THE MISTAKE OF WORLD BURNERS
The mistake is with the theory of the world burners who refuse to receive the promises that "the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord," "The meek shall inherit the earth and dwell therein forever." "The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth." If the earth is to be the habitation for a few short years of a few good people who are to be taken to another world, and of many wicked who are to be taken to still another one, much worse than this, and then to be burned up, it would not seem far from right to say that it has been created in vain; and with such a view no room whatever would be found for the promises cited above to which many more might be added. But the prophet Isaiah declares, "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited." (chap. 45: 18). Surely his purpose in creating the earth to be inhabited was not limited to the dark and sinful past and present. The purpose must reach farther and higher than this. It must have in view a state of habitation that will be to the glory of God; and is this not what is contemplated by the words of the heavenly host who cried out: "Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace and good will toward men." (Luke 2: 14)?
Those who believe that heaven is to be their everlasting abode and who quote Scripture to prove the destruction of the earth forget that the same Scripture also declares the destruction of the heavens; and the fact that the Scriptures do declare the future destruction of the heavens and earth seems, when superficially viewed, to make Godís word contradictory. No one surely can persuade himself that God will destroy his own glorious habitation. Why should he do so? To entertain such a thought for a moment is both unreasonable and unscriptural; and since, as we have seen, the heavens and the earth with all the ordinances thereof, are used to represent stability, permanence and perpetuity the question is no more a doubtful or uncertain one. The eternal existence of the literal or physical heavens and earth, the marvelous and stupendous work of the Creator, is assured.
It is by failing to discriminate between symbolic and literal language that the Scriptures are made to appear contradictory on this question.
If we hold the unscriptural and unreasonable theory that the physical heavens and earth are to be destroyed we shall be in the same plight that Wesley found himself when he wrote the poem:
"When heaven and earth are fled and gone, O, where shall I appear?"
A comparison of Scripture with Scripture will remove any seeming contradiction, dispel all doubt and bring to view the poetic and symbolic beauty of Scripture language, language which is often borrowed by secular writers to great advantage in embellishing their literary work. The following quotation from Dr. Keith is an illustration of this, in which the reader will readily see with what forcefulness the words sky, tempest, convulsion, cloud, electricity, thunderbolt, atmosphere, storm, lightning, heavens, etc., are figuratively used.
Never, perhaps, in the history of man were the times more ominous or pregnant with greater events than at present. The signs of them are, in many respects, set before the eyes of men and need not be told; and they strike the senses so forcibly and come so closely to the apprehension of all that they may be said to be felt as well as to be seen. The face of the sky never indicated more clearly an approaching tempest than the signs of the times betoken an approaching convulsion--not partial but universal. It is not a single cloud, surcharged with electricity, on the rending of which a momentary flash might appear and the thunderbolt shiver a pine or scathe a few lovely shrubs, that is now rising into view; but the whole atmosphere is lowering. A gathering storm is accummulating fearfully in every region, the lightning is already seen gleaming in the heavens and passing in quick succession from one distant cloud to another as if every tree in the forest would be enkindled, and the devastating tempest before purifying the atmosphere would spread ruin on every side.
No sensible person reading the foregoing would look up at the sky and expect to see signs of a literal storm portending great convulsions in the physical heavens and earth. With ordinary common sense He would know that the writer was vividly describing the condition of the political heavens and threatening destruction of the evils of the world, socially and politically, as the same writer further says: "Such is the aspect of the political horizon. The whole world is in agitation."
Now, let us take a passage of Scripture to illustrate the same figurative use of language, and with ordinary common sense, which the Scriptures always presume its reader to possess, we shall find it quite easy to "rightly divide the word of truth" in a proper discrimination between literal and figurative language, and thus escape the evil of making the Bible appear a contradictory book.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF BIBLE FIGURES OF SPEECH
Isa. 34:--Come near ye nations to
hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear and all that is therein, the
world and all things that come forth of it * * * And all the host of heaven
shall be dissolved and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and
all the host shall fall down as the leaf falling off from the vine and a
falling fig from the fig tree, For my sword shall be bathed in heaven; behold
it shalt come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse to judgment.
The sword of the Lord is filled with blood; it is made fat with fatness
and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams; for
the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great
slaughter in the
Here is a striking illustration of the poetry and symbolism of the Bible in which, as Bishop Lowth says of prophecy generally, "A set of images is taken from things natural, artificial, religious, and historical; in the way of metaphor or allegory." Indeed, to deprive the prophets of this poetic and symbolical use of language would be to quench the fire of their tongues; for it is in this that the strength and beauty of the Hebrew, inspired by the Divine Spirit, consist; and as a means of forewarning of the terribleness of the punishments to be inflicted upon sinful nations and of the intensity of Godís indignation against such sinfulness the tone of the language used must necessarily be raised to the highest pitch in order that there might be a full realization of the importance of the matter described and foretold.
Happily, the descriptive power of
such language is not confined to the dreadful and terrible, but is beautifully
employed in the painting of pictures of the grandest and most glorious
blessings in store for the righteous. While almost the entire chapter from
which the foregoing passage is quoted (Isa. 34) is a vivid description of the
fearful and dreadful, the next chapter takes wings, as it were, and soars aloft
into heights of glory and blessings, in which even the poetic pen of the
prophet seems unable to do full justice; and in this, too, we have the highly
wrought figures of speech. As if to present a strong and striking contrast with
what he had already said the prophet exclaims: "The wilderness and the
solitary places shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and
blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and
singing; the glory of
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE IN RELATION TO HEAVENS AND EARTH
With these facts before us we shall be prepared for the figurative use of language in relation to the heavens and the earth, and by it be able to understand that when the destruction of the world is spoken of it does not mean the crash of the universe, and that the passing away of the heavens and the dissolving of the earth is not affirmed of the literal heaven and earth, which cannot be moved for ever, and of which the Spirit through Israelís Psalmist declares, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night giveth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun."
Dr. Adam Clarke, in his "Introduction to the Book of Isaiah," quotes largely from the writings of Dr. John Smith, of Cambleton, from which we extract the following to illustrate the Bible use of terms concerning the political "heavens and earth."
By images borrowed from the world natural the prophets frequently understand something analogous in the world politic. Thus, the sun, moon and stars and heavenly bodies denote kings, queens, rulers, and persons in great power; their increase of splendor denotes increase of prosperity; their darkening, setting, or falling denotes a reverse of fortune, or the entire ceasing of that power or kingdom to which they refer. Great earthquakes and the shaking of heaven and earth denote the commotion and overthrow of kingdoms; and the beginning or end of the world their rise or ruin.
The cedars of Lebanon, oaks of
SIR ISAAC NEWTON ALSO SAYS:
In attempting to understand the prophecies we are in the first place to acquaint ourselves with the figurative language of the prophets. This language is taken from analogy between the world natural and an empire or kingdom as a world politic. Accordingly, the whole world natural, consisting of heavens and earth, signifies the whole world politic, consisting of thrones and people, or so much of it as is considered in the prophecy. Great earthquakes and the shaking of heaven and earth are put for the shaking of kingdoms, so as to distract and overthrow them; creating a new heaven and earth and the passing away of the old one, or the beginning and end of the world for the rise and wane of the body politic signified thereby. The sun and moon are by the interpreters of dreams put for the persons of kings and queens; but in sacred prophecy, which regards not single persons, the sun is put for the whole series and race of kings in the kingdoms of the world politic, shining with regal power and glory; the moon considered as the kingís wife, the stars for subordinate princes and great men.
II. PETER 3 EXPLAINED
Now the Scripture which is generally quoted to prove the destruction of heaven and earth is II. Peter 3: 7-11. It requires only ordinary care in reading this chapter to see that the apostle is not predicting the destruction of Godís dwelling place nor of manís habitation. The heavens and the earth which are now, of which destruction is affirmed, are the second of the heavens and earth of which the apostle is speaking. In verses 5 and 6 he says:
"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth, standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." Then in verse 7 he speaks of "The heavens and the earth which are now," which clearly implies that the "heavens which were of old and the earth" are not the same as "the heavens and the earth which are now." Those "of old," being "overflowed with water, perished," but those "which are now" still exist and are "reserved unto fire." May we not safely say of this that we have here the first heavens and earth, and the second heavens and earth--the former antedeluvian and the latter postdeluvian? There is no other meaning can possibly, with reason, be drawn from the apostleís words. Now, all we have to do is to ask, Have we different physical heavens and earth now from those of antedeluvian times? and we shall be compelled to see that, while a change did take place in the heavens and earth of Peterís discourse, the dwelling place of God and the broad star-spangled heavens above us have remained in all their beauty and majestic splendor, and our fair earth has continued whirling around upon its axis and gliding along gracefully and unerringly in its orbit, and they still exist unchanged and unchangeable to "declare the glory of God and to show forth his handiwork."
That which in verse 5 is called "heavens and earth of old," is in verse 6 termed "the world that then was." The word world here is in the Greek, kosmos, meaning order or arrangement of things. The ruling and ruled system of antedeluvian times constituted the heavens and the earth or the world, political and social, of those times. This kosmos or world became wicked and corrupt in the hands of its rulers and ruled. Hence God spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing the flood upon the world of the ungodly (I. Peter 2: 5.) Their political and social corruption was swept off the earth and in this great catastrophe the heavens and the earth which were then, being overflowed with water, perished.
THREE HEAVENS AND EARTH
The "heavens and the earth which now are" consisted of the rulers and ruled in the Jewish and Gentile world or kosmos. The Jewish was about to come to its end then, while the Gentile must continue till the "times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Of the former, which was a kosmos of Godís arranging, the apostle Paul, quoting from the prophets, says, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thine hands; they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up and they shall be changed; but thou art the same and thy years shall not fail" (Heb. 1: 10, 12). The Jewish heavens and earth constituted a kosmos or world, and it was near its end when Peter and Paul wrote. This end is termed the "last days" by Paul when he says, "God, who in sundry times and diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" (Heb. 1: 1-2); and of the same times the same apostle, using another word, aion--age, says that the ends of the world (the Mosaic age in which obtained the Mosaic kosmos) are come (I. Cor. 10: 11). In the end of this world Christ "appeared and put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. ).
DESTRUCTION OF THE JEWISH HEAVENS AND EARTH
Describing the destruction of the Jewish heavens and earth, which caused the end of its ecclesiastical (represented by the moon) as well as that of its political system the apostle Peter quotes from the prophet Joel: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come" (Acts 2: 20). It was then that Israelís sun went down and her moon withdrew her shining and left her in the political and religious darkness which has covered her with gloom ever since, and will continue till the "Sun of righteousness arise," when the words of the prophet Isaiah will find sweet fulfillment: "Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isa. 60: 20).
heavens and the earth which are now" of II. Pet. 3: 7 are evidently not confined to those of Judaism;
for they are carried along by the apostle till they give place to the
third or "new heavens and earth" (verses 12, 13). The light of
1. There were heavens and earth before the flood, which passed away.
2. The heavens and earth of Judaism, the Jewish kosmos, reached the end of its age and then it passed away; and what remains of "the heavens and the earth which are now" are to be dissolved in the day when the Lord shall come as a thief in the night.
3. "We look for new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (verse 13).
In those which were then and these which are now righteousness did not dwell; and this is the reason why the former perished and why the latter is to be dissolved and pass away. Surely unrighteousness cannot be affirmed of the literal heavens and earth, which declare the glory of God and show forth his handiwork. But of the political heavens and earth of all ages, in the kingdoms of men, there has been unrighteousness, and now the whole creation is groaning while it waits, it knows not for what; but it is for the dawning of that glorious morning when the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams and shine forth in the new heavens to give health and blessing to the new earth.
A comparison will show that what is declared of the condition and end of the kingdoms of the world is declared of the heavens and the earth which are to be destroyed; and what is shown to be the character of the coming kingdom of God is precisely that of the new heavens and new earth which are to follow the destruction of "the heavens and the earth which are now."
The only conclusion these facts
will admit of is that the words "new heavens and new earth" are
figuratively used to represent the ruling power and the ruled in the
THE THIRD HEAVEN
We have now the heavens and the
earth which were of old (II. Pet. 3: 5), which we may call the first heaven;
then we have the heaven and the earth which are now (verse 7), which we may
call the second heaven; and last we have the new heavens and new earth (verse
13), which we may call the third heaven. This third, the apostle is particular
to say we look for "according to his promise," as if it were a
matter specially promised. That which is the subject of special promise--indeed
that which is the subject matter of the gospel--is the
WHY HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE USED FIGURATIVELY
In the natural world we have heaven and earth, sun, moon and stars. God created the sun to rule by day and the moon to rule by night. The Bible being a revelation to this planet, our range of view is limited to the relation of the heavens, sun, moon, and stars to this earth. Here is the earth beneath, or under the heaven, as we are compelled to speak of it; under "that which is heaved up"--above. Heaven rules and the earth is ruled. In speaking of the "two great lights" we always speak of the greater--the sun--in the masculine gender and the lesser--the moon--in the feminine gender. The prophet Isaiah says, "The sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine" (Chap. ). Gender belongs literally and primarily to the sexes. The man is given first dominion and, therefore, the dominion of woman is subordinate to and derived from the man. As Christ is the head of the church so man is head of the woman. She is the "weaker vessel." Since the moon receives its light from the sun, it is the "lesser light," and after the analogy of the sexes we naturally use the feminine gender when speaking of it, while of the "greater light"--the sun--we use the masculine gender. It is natural to speak of things optically. As they appear to us, the sun is the greater ruler of our earth and the moon the lesser, while their family, as it were, is seen in the stars which sparkle in the firmament. Here is a natural kosmos, a grand arrangement, a physical world, consisting of heaven and earth.
In the natural order of things, when man increased in the earth and families became divided off, the husband leaving father and mother and cleaving to his wife, each family would necessarily become a little kosmos, world or kingdom, in which there would be rulers and ruled. The father was the first, the mother the second in ruling and governing their children. Then, when it became so that servants formed part of these little kingdoms, there was another element introduced and there were three grades of rulership--Father, Mother, and Children, in the order named. The fatherís law was supreme; the motherís subordinate, and the childrenís (over the large retinue of servants many of them had) subordinate to both; but all filling their proper places in these little kingdoms.
Now, with these facts in view, we can draw the analogy which runs through the Scriptures between the heavens and the earth and kingdoms.
The father answers to the sun, the mother to the moon, and the children to the stars, constituting the heavens; while the servants answer to the earth, under or ruled by the heaven. Looking at the sun as that in the physical heavens which answers to the fathers in the heavens of these kingdoms, it naturally became spoken of in the masculine gender, while the moon, answering to the mother, was spoken of in the feminine gender, and so we find it among us now.
In Gen. 37: 5-10 we have an illustration of this in Josephís dreams. Joseph says of his second dream, "Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me; and he told it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said unto him, What is this dream that thou dreamest? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren come to bow down to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him, and his father observed the saying" (verses 8-11). On this Dr. Adam Clarke says:
"Why eleven stars? Was it merely to signify that his brothers might be represented by eleven stars? Or does he not there rather allude to the Zodiac, his eleven brethren answering to the eleven celestial signs, and himself to the twelfth? This certainly is not an unnatural thought, as it is very likely that the heavens were measured in the days of Joseph; for Zodiacal constellations have been distinguished among the eastern nations from time immemorial."
Be this as it may, the interpretation Jacob put upon the dream regarded himself as the sun, the mother (whoever might fill the place at that time, for Rachel was dead) the moon and the eleven brothers the stars. In Jacobís household, which was such a little kingdom as we have before described, there were many servants. Therefore, the family proper would be the heaven, in which were the sun, moon and stars, while the servants and all possessions would be the earth.
As time went on and might assumed
the place of right, ambitious men, not satisfied with the rulership of
their own little kingdoms, forced others into subjection, and thus the spirit
of rivalry became rampant and the increase of the kingdoms of men, with all
their wickedness and pride, more and more burdened the world of mankind. Many
petty kingdoms were in
Now with this view of the Bibleís
use of heavens and earth, we can understand many Scriptures which would
otherwise be confusing. When Moses cried out, "Give ear, O ye heavens, and
I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth" (Deut. 32:1), he
was not addressing things which cannot hear; but to the rulers and the ruled of
men his words were uttered; and the same is true of the words of Jeremiahó"O
earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord" (chap. 22: 29). In Isa. 1:
1, 2, the prophet is addressing
Speaking of the destruction of
When the king of Babylon fell
from his throne he is said to have fallen from heaven; and in the indictment
recorded against him he is charged with being ambitious to "ascend into
heaven," "above the stars of God." In this ascension the kingís
ambition was that he might "sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the
sides of the north" (verse 13). Now this is Mount Zion; for the
Psalmist says, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is
Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great king"
(Psa. 48: 2). It was there that the throne of the Lord over
SATAN IN THE ROMAN HEAVEN
or adversary of Christ and his disciples was pagan
The latter in its perverted and apostate
form was destined to ascend the throne, receiving, at first, in its purity, its
power from the sword of the Spirit--the word; but afterwards, in its corrupt
form, from the literal sword. In full view of the persecution of the Christians
by pagan Rome, and of the sufferings he and his disciples would receive at the
hands of that heathen despotic and cruel power, the Saviour sees its end at the
hands of Christianity in the ascension of the so-called first Christian emperor
to the throne, Constantine, and he exclaims, "I beheld Satan as lightning
fall from heaven." Not that this was the complete fulfillment of these
words; for, no doubt, they reach to the end of all the powers of all
adversaries. When the fall of paganism and the enthronement of Christianity (in
its corrupted form) were shown in vision to John, "there appeared a wonder
in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and upon
her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev. 12: 1). This woman gives birth to
a man child, who is caught up to God and to His throne; God being on the side
of Christianity and against paganism. Then there is war in heaven and the
Some erroneously apply this chapter to the downfall of Judaism and the ascension of Christ to heaven, failing to observe that the war is in the same heaven to which the man child is "caught up," and ignoring the fact that John was not being shown what had taken place, but "things which shall be hereafter" (chap. 4: 1). It was an event future from Johnís time and serves to illustrate the symbolic use of heaven as representing political and ecclesiastical power. This is not the place to give a full exposition of this passage: we have referred to it to show the symbolic use of heaven in relation to human governments. It is simply foolish to make "the war in heaven" apply to a war in the holy habitation of God, where we may be sure war is impossible. If there could be war there why should we pray that Godís will may be done in earth as it is in heaven. We have plenty of war on earth, and if such is possible in heaven the answer to our prayer would not improve our situation.
While Revelation 12 found partial
fulfillment in the enthronement of
ISAIAH 35--LOWTHíS TRANSLATION
The desert and the waste
shall be glad:
And the wilderness shall rejoice and flourish:
Like the rose shall it beautifully flourish:
And the well-watered plain of Jordan shall also rejoice:
The glory of
The beauty of
These shall behold the glory of Jehovah,
The majesty of our God.
Strengthen ye the feeble hands,
And confirm ye the tottering knees,
Say ye to the faint-hearted: Be ye strong;
Fear ye not; behold your God!
Vengeance will come, the retribution of God:
He himself will come and will deliver you.
Then shall be unclosed the eyes of the blind;
And the ears of the deaf shall be opened;
Then shall the lame bound like the hart,
And the tongue of the dumb shalt sing:
For in the wilderness shall burst forth waters,
And torrents in the desert:
And the glowing sand shall become a pool,
And the thirsty soil bubbling springs;
And in the haunts of dragons
shall spring forth
The grass with the reed and the bulrush.
And a highway shall be there;
And it shall be called the way of holiness;
No unclean person shall pass through it;
But he, himself shall be with them, walking in the way.
And the foolish shall not err therein.
No lion shall be there;
Nor shall the tyrant of beasts come up thither;
Neither shall he be found there;
But the redeemed shall walk in it.
Yea the ransomed of Jehovah shall return:
They shall come to
And perpetual gladness shall crown their heads.
Joy and gladness shall they obtain;
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
LOCALITY OF THE NEW HEAVENS
It is frequently the case that
the change of heavens and earth is spoken of in the Scriptures in connection
Then again in Isa. 51: 3-6 we
have the promise that "the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all
her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert like
the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving
and the voice of melody."
This beautiful verse is both historic and prophetic. When God on Mount Sinai was laying the foundation of the Jewish earth and planting the heavens, the glory of His presence was too great and dazzling for the eyes of Israel to behold; and they beseeched that he speak to them no more. It was then that He, as it were, "covered them in the shadow of His hand," while he, through Moses, "put His words in their mouths, and laid the foundations of the earth and planted the heavens." This will be repeated upon a grander scale when the greater than Moses shall appear, and the Lord shall comfort Zion, the redeemed of the Lord return thither--to her children God shall say, "Thou art my people."
Viewing the abomination of Israel
(Jer. 4), her land as fallow ground, desolate and forsaken, the prophet
Jeremiah cries out, "I am pained to my very heart; my heart maketh a noise
in me; I cannot hold my peace" (verse 19). The desolations which have come
In this beautiful symbolical way of expressing the great change that shall take place when the worldís redemption becomes a fact, the analogy between the world natural and the world political is seen in its sublime fitness; and the wisdom of God shines out in wonderful light and splendor. A volume of thought is condensed into a few words. The words abound in a way to carry the mind on into heavenly ideas far beyond the mere letter. In some instances the mind instructed in the fundamental principles of the Scriptures will be able to see more than one event prophesied in one passage; in others it will be able to see an application of the same words to both natural and spiritual things; and thus the divinity of the Bible will become more and more a matter of irresistible truth that will force conviction and call forth admiration.
We have frequently quoted the nineteenth Psalm in speaking of the physical heavens and earth, and this is the first lesson to be learned from those beautiful words. Look up into the vast heavens above and out over this beautiful earth and who is he that can be called a man and yet will not, yea is not compelled by a throbbing heart and admiring eyes to, burst out in words of praise.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chambers, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
TWO PHASES OF PROPHECY
Is it not astonishing that there are men possessed of eyes to see the wisdom, the power and the grandeur of the universe, and who can yet deny that there is a God? As we have said, these beautiful words give vent to the hearts and minds of those who with the natural eyes behold the literal heavens and earth; but the mind is also enlightened in and the heart thrilled with the contemplation of the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ; the new heavens and the new earth which will bring the long-looked-for blessing to our groaning world stand out in all their resplendent glory and it is then that the passage becomes doubly charming, because while the natural eye can feast upon the abounding glories of the natural world, the eyes of the mind, or of faith, can behold with ecstacy a kosmos or world which will indeed declare the glory of God and show forth His handiwork in the highest sense conceivable. Then "day unto day will utter speech and night unto night will give knowledge," so that "all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest," and there will be no language where their voice shall not be heard. The "line" or rule of those new heavens, consisting of Christ and his redeemed saints, shall run through all the earth--to its "uttermost parts"--and "their words to the end of the world." In these new heavens God has provided a tabernacle for His Son who will be the Sun thereof and who will in very deed be the "strong man to run the race," when he comes forth as a bridegroom from behind the veil.
That we can safely apply the passage to this spiritual and higher aspect of things is clear from verse 7; for here we have the law which now prepares stars for the new heaven and which will "convert," "make wise," "rejoice the heart" and "enlighten the eyes" of those who shall be blessed in the new earth in which will dwell righteousness. Then "the fear of the Lord will be clean" in very deed, "enduring forever" and "the judgments of the Lord will be righteous altogether." While now the laws of the Lord are not sought for, then they will be "desired more than gold, yea than much fine gold; sweeter also (will they be) than honey and the dropping of the honey comb."
The sound of the gospel pertaining to this grand time is what is heralded to the world in the covenants of promise. This "sound" or "line" is also termed "their words" (verse 4), which are the words of the truth of the gospel of the kingdom of God, which when established will be the planting of the new heavens and laying the foundation of the new earth. Hence the apostle Paul in preaching the gospel quotes from this Psalm, saying, "So faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But, I say, have they not heard? Yea, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Rom.10: 17, 18).
Now, with this twofold aspect of truth before our minds we may view the creation of the natural world as described by Moses and at the same time keep our minds upon the new creation of which Christ is the first-born. The two great lights of the new heaven will be Christ the Sun--the greater--and his bride, the moon--the lesser--and the stars which will "shine for ever and ever" will be the individual saints.
THE LITERAL AND THE SPIRITUAL
Man was created and when in a
deep sleep woman was taken out of man. These two became one, and of them it was
said, "Let them have dominion." In the new creation the new
man, Christ, was made or formed in the image of the Elohim, first in character
and afterwards in nature. By the deep sleep of death into which he passed his
bride is formed, and when these two become one in nature, as they are now one
in mind, which will be at the marriage of the Lamb to his bride, who shall have
"made herself ready," then the words, "Let them have dominion,"
will find a grand fulfillment. This dominion shall be "from sea to sea and
from the river unto the ends of the earth;" "the kingdom is an
everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him;" the new
heavens and the new earth shall then make ashamed, confound and chase away the
present corrupt governments of men--while they "shall never be
moved," but "abide for ever," having ordinances which can no
more be changed than can those of the literal heavens and earth, nor than Godís
covenant can be broken. "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun
shall be ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in
Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously;" and favored Mount Zion and
restored Jerusalem shall realize the fulfillment of the words, "For
behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be
remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that
which I create; for behold I create
"And who is He? the vast,
the awful form (Rev. 10: 1, 2),