New York, New Jersey, New Earth

June 24, 2010

I was thinking about the verses in Matthew 24 (35), Mark 13 (31) and Luke 21 (33) that I tend to skip over — the ones that say heaven and earth will pass away — when the Holy Spirit said out of the blue, “Think New York.”

I had been thinking about this planet being devastated, the mountains lowered, valleys raised, oceans evaporated, plant and animal life dead and rotted, even the elements melted. And wondering how long it would take to make parts of it habitable again, after Jesus brought us all back again. What a mess to clean up.

I Thessalonians 4:15-17 says those believers still alive when he returns will meet the resurrected dead ones in the sky. Some people believe we’ll all be in heaven for a while after that (7 years, or maybe 3-1/2 years), then be brought back with Jesus after he wins the last big battle with his enemies.

But I wonder about that – why bring the two divisions of Christians together in the air, one being the spirits of deceased believers coming down from heaven to reunite with their reconstructed physical remains, the other being the live believers going to heaven without having to die first?

It makes more sense to me if the two are meeting simply because Jesus is collecting the whole group to move us somewhere safe here on the planet earth. And after that, we’ll have a thousand years to learn how to manage the planet the right way, considering the lousy job human beings have done of that so far.

But those verses about heaven and earth passing away — and II Peter 3:10 about the very elements burning up — is that before or after the thousand years of peace? I haven’t made up my mind about the timetable.

In any case, I have thought all along, whenever I thought about it, that the new heaven (atmosphere, air) and new planet would be located right on top of the old ones. Archeologists often find cities built atop ruins of former cities, sometimes three or four cities deep as they dig. That’s the way I always thought, until the other day.

“Think New York,” he said. Hmmm.

New York was not constructed on top of the old, original York. It’s not even in the same continent. Likewise New Jersey. They are very distant, completely removed from the old country. They were built new, in a new country, on a new continent. A fresh start, just with reminiscent, memorial names.

New Earth. Different solar system? Different galaxy? A city called New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, it says in Revelation 21, and settles on New Earth. City… or city-shaped ship…? Headquarters, moving from heaven onto New Earth.

Interesting to think about.

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