The Changed Heavens and Earth

“Thou, LORD, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish but thou remainest; and they all 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.” —Hebrews 1:10-12

THESE WORDS ARE a quotation by the Apostle Paul from Psalm 102:25,26. They are used to attest the fact that God had foreordained that our Lord Jesus would be very great—superior to all change. However, a question arises in the minds of some as to how this declaration agrees with some Scriptural statements to the effect that the earth abideth forever.

The words ‘heavens’ and ‘earth’ are used in a figurative and symbolic sense in the Scriptures, as well as a literal sense. As symbols they represent the present order of things which is to pass away and give place to a new order of things. This is also the import of the Apostle Peter’s argument when he spoke of the ‘world that now is’, and the present ‘heavens and earth’ which are to pass away with a great noise (II Pet. 3:7,10), and to be supplanted by the new ‘heavens’ and ‘new earth’.

Our physical earth has been the basis for the expression ‘the world’ that then ‘was’, this ‘present evil world’ and ‘the world to come’. The word ‘world’ even in each of these instances signifies the order of things that was, the order of things that is, and the order of things to come.

The figure is carried out in detail by speaking of it as a heavens and earth, because the word ‘earth’ is used to represent the earthly systems—social and political—while the word ‘heavens’ is used to represent the ecclesiastical and the spiritual things connected therewith. Thus, the heavens and earth which were before the Flood perished or disappeared, not the literal heavens nor the literal earth, but the symbolic or figurative.

It was the social order—or earth—which prevailed before the Flood that passed away. At the same time the spiritual rule of those angels connected with the heavenly epoch which preceded the Flood, also passed away. After the Flood, the present order was instituted; earthly society was reorganized under new conditions, but on the same physical earth; and a new spiritual government, rule, or order was introduced also.

It is this present symbolic heavens and earth that was organized after the Flood which is to pass away with a great noise at the Second Presence of our Lord—not the physical earth, nor the physical heavens. Similarly, the apostle, when he says, “We look for a new heavens and a new earth” (II Pet. 3:13), refers not to some other planet, but to this same one, and implies a new social order of things, and a new ecclesiastical rule.

In view of these things, we feel justified in interpreting the words of our text in harmony with other Scriptures referring to the change of dispensation which are foretold to be coming to the world.

While agreeing with the apostle’s statement that our Lord Jesus was the Father’s active agent in the Creation of the physical earth and physical heavens, we understand the real thought to be that with him there will be no change, but with his Creation, there will be change—not as it respects the matter and form of the earth, but in respect to the cloak it wears—its social and religious order.

To elaborate further: The order which our Lord originally established in the world was right and proper—the divine order. As for the earth, Adam was its king, created in the image and likeness of his Creator, and given dominion over the beast of the field, the fowl of the heavens, and the fish of the sea. As for the spiritual heavens, they recognized the supremacy of the Almighty, and that his will must be law to mankind.

This beautiful arrangement, originally established by the Lord, was changed twice by sin, until today we have what is known as “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4), in which neither the heavenly nor the earthly ideals, regulations and arrangements are in harmony with the original, but on the contrary, are quite unfit and ready for dissolution.

Like old garments that are worn out, they are about to be folded up for discard, and to be changed. They need to be changed, not because of any imperfection in the original arrangement, but because they departed from it through sin, disobedience, and the penalty of death. The new heavens and earth which the Lord will establish by the Millennial Kingdom reign will be the original restored. The law of love will then prevail among perfect men, and a full responsibility to God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, and to the Lord Jesus, will be realized. Jesus was the Father’s Prime Minister and agent in Creation, and during the next age will be the Father’s Prime Minister and agent in bringing all things back to their primeval condition with added splendors.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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