Saturday, December 08, 2007

After Life (13) - Where

Where does our future life take place? Some say on this earth, while other say their will be a new heaven and a new earth somewhere else. Here are some scriptures.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (2 Pet 3:10-13.
Peter says that the heavens (ouranos) will disappear (v.11). Here he must be referring to the sky, however it is not clear how the sky disappears. It may be that the glory of Jesus appearance is so dazzling and bright that the sky cannot be seen. The expression “destruction of the heavens by fire” (v.12) is interesting, because Peter does not use the usual Greek word for destruction. The literal meaning of the word he uses is “loosen”. The sky being loosened up by fire may just mean that the universe is shaken up.

Peter says that the elements will be “loosened by fire” (v.10) and “melt in the heat” (v.12). This suggests a real transformation, but may not mean total destruction. The earth and everything in it will be “laid bare” (v.10). This suggests a lot of destruction, but it does not mean that the earth will be totally destroyed. It also has a sense of things that are hidden being exposed.

Peter’s message is that the earth and the atmosphere will be really shaken up by Jesus return, but he does not seem to be saying that the universe will actually disappear.

Both Peter and John speak of a new heavens and a new earth.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them (Rev 21 1-3).
These references do not explain whether the word “new” is used in the sense of “totally different” or in the sense of being “totally renewed”. I suspect that it is the latter. The whole universe will be so totally transformed by Jesus coming that it will appear to be totally new.

We must also remember that once we have spiritually bodies, we will be able to see the spiritual dimension of the universe as clearly as we now see the physical dimension. And because the spiritual dimension is vastly more important than the physical, it will appear to be totally different. It will be like God has taken the lid off the universe so we can see everything.

The only way that I can think about this is to imagine an ant living in the middle of my lawn. All he can see is enormous columns of green grass and the brown soil it grows in. He may see some of the microbes in the soil and the structure of the worm holes more clearly than I can, but essentially he lives in a two dimensional world of green and brown. If the ant could come up to my level and see the world from where I see it he would see a totally different world. He would see mountains, trees, animals and stars that he had never seen before. Although nothing had changed, he would feel like he was living in a totally new world.

When we see this world in both the physical and spiritual dimensions, our experience will be similar, although the contrast will be even greater. The best way to describe such an experience in human words might be to be as a new heaven and a new earth.

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