For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
The heavens and the earth mean the New Testament Church. There are beauty and propriety in the figure employed; for, not to speak of the manner in which the state of the world is affected by the state of religion, the dependence of the Church upon spiritual and heavenly influences is as immediate as that which our earth has upon the surrounding atmosphere. When the sky is filled with dark clouds and pours forth incessant rains, or when it emits a continued and scorching heat, the fruits of the field are destroyed; but when it diffuses genial influences, and gives sunshine and rain, in just proportions, fertility and abundance are the results. In like manner the state of the Church depends upon the influences which God is pleased to communicate: should these be rich and gracious, the Church is prosperous-and happy; but should these be scanty and afflictive, the interests of religion languish and decay. When, therefore, it is said that God will create new heavens and a new earth, we are to explain the words as referring to the beneficial change which is to be effected upon the state of the Church. This change will be so great, and so blissful, as to merit the name — a new creation. It will introduce so many bleasings, and unfold so many beauties, and diffuse such universal joy, that the former state of affliction, sorrow, and danger shall not be remembered nor come into mind. To what period in the history of the Church does this prediction (ver. 17) refer? Many of the early Christian writers regarded it as descriptive of the state of the Church in heaven, and supported their view by the words of Peter, that after the earth and atmosphere have been destroyed by fire, there will be formed new heavens and a new earth, in which the righteous shall dwell. But the verses assert that, in the time to which this prediction refers, there will be sin and death, and that men shall build houses and inhabit them; and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. Others, again, have viewed the predictions as pointing out the change which took place upon the Church and world, when the Jewish State was overthrown, and the Gospel was preached to all nations. At this time the relations which existed between heaven and earth underwent a great alteration. The worship of the sun, moon, and stars was abolished in many places, the false gods with which they had filled heaven were set aside, and just views of the supreme Being were attained by many, while God lifted the covering of darkness which had been spread over all nations, offered Himself to them as their gracious God, and invited them, as His people, to come into the communion of the Church. But though the change which then happened was great — so great as to be set forth by such terms as God's shaking the heavens and the earth — yet it does not correspond to the magnificence of the scene delineated in the words before us. The seeds of prosperity and coming happiness were then sown. But then judgment kept pace with mercy. The word was received in much affliction; and nearly all the Churches had to endure severe and fiery trials, while on the literal Jerusalem the wrath of God fell and consumed it. We agree, therefore, with those who look upon the text as character. izing the state of the Church in the millennium. The glory of the Church will then outshine and eclipse all the happiness that has ever been seen on earth, and exceed the loftiest expectations of the saints.
1. It will be a period of unparalleled gracious communications on the part of God. The heavens will then seem to be opened, and the Divine Persons to smile on man. The whole of that time shall be a season of gracious refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
2. It will be a period of clear and universal knowledge.
3. Of extraordinary holiness. This is the result which sanctified knowledge invariably produces.
4. It will be a period of unprecedented joy. In ver. 16 it is said, that "the former troubles shall be forgotten;" and in ver. 18 God says, "be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." The state of the Church will be so prosperous, and the benefits conferred upon its members so full and so gracious, as to afford to all the highest causes of gladness. There will be a joy derived from clear and exalted views of Divine truth; from sin overcome, grace imparted, and holiness promoted; from realized communion with God, and from heavenly contemplations.
5. It will be a time of cordial union and love.
6. Of universal peace and liberty.
7. Of remarkable outward prosperity,
8. All things shall be subordinated to the interests of religion. The world and its engagements are now too frequently injurious to the growth of piety. But, then, the service of God will be the one grand business that will engage all hearts and all hands.
Parallel VersesKJV: For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
WEB: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.