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of the Lord, the heavens will pass away; and, instead of merely the world (the persons who were living upon the earth) perishing, as was the case when they were washed away and drowned at the deluge (ver. 6), the material although perhaps we cannot conceive in what precise extent of sig. nification the word heavens is to be understood, as we find the word D'ow used, even in Gen. i, in apparently different extents of signification, vers. 1, 8, 14, 30 (air). * See also Psalm cxlviii. 1, 4, &c.
The third way in which the Holy Ghost indicates to us the difference of extent of destruction, is the express declaration, that there will be a new heavens and new earth (ver. 13), which exactly agrees with the declaration just noticed concerning the passing away of the present heavens, and the burning up of the present earth.
We may observe how strikingly this distinction is confirmed by Heb. i. 10–12: “ And, 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." Here we may remark two things noticed concerning the heavens and earth. 1. Their creation in the beginning. 2. Their future destruction. No notice is taken in this passage of any effect produced in them by the deluge, because, as already observed, the heavens and earth did not perish then, but only the ungodly world living upon the carth. But it is expressly declared, that they shall perish. The same verb (awhartai) is here used with reference to the heavens and earth, as in 2 Pet. iïi. 6 with reference to the ungodly world ; and as it there signifies the destruction of the existence of the ungodly, so here it signifies the destruction of the heavens and earth, as now existing, according indeed to its, I believe I might say, almost invariable signification in the New Testament. The same thing is intimated by the figure of a garment, which after it has grown old, and worn out, is folded up, and not changed into, but changed for a new one, as the expression changed implies, by comparing the original passage (Psalm cii. 26). In like manner, the present heavens and earth, after having become, as it were, worn out by the accomplishment of the period and objects for which they were created, will be, not refined and altered, but rolled up and put away, and a new heavens and earth substituted in their place. The description, therefore, which is given in this passage of what will take place with respect to the present heaven and earth, combined with the total omission of any reference to any effect of the deluge, appears to me to afford a striking confirmation to the observations which I have just made respecting 2 Pet. iii.; and when I combine all these considerations, I cannot but conclude that the events which will take place at the coming of the day of the Lord, will be as much more extensive and decisive in their effects than the events which took place at the deluge, as the description which the Holy Ghost has here given of the former is than the description which he has given of the latter.
On the other hand, if I interpret what is called the first resurrection, to signify that of the saints, I must be compelled not only to
earth itself will be burned up (katakanperal) with all the works that are therein. Thirdly, In the stead of the present heavens which have thus passed away, and of the present earth which has thus been burned up, there will
fritter away the obvious meaning of this plain and solemn passage, but I must be reduced to the following, in my view, insuperably difficult conclusion; namely, that the Holy Ghost has described, in one and the same passage, two events ; and that he has given us a far more extensive and decisive description of one of these events tban he has of the other ; but that, instead of the effects of the one event thus described, being proportionably more extensive and decisive than the effects of the other were (and we actually know what they were), the case will be directly the reverse ; and the far more extensive and decisive description will receive the far less extensive and decisive fulfilment. This would be considered by us as a glaring defect in any human writing ; and can it exist in the word of God? Such, however, must be the difficulty in which I shall be involved, and in which, it appears to me, all are actually involved, who interpret the first resurrection to mean that of the saints at the coming of the day of the Lord, when the events noticed in this passage will take place. For, on this interpretation, ungodly persons must survive all that is described in the passage, such as the passing away of the heavens, the burning up of the earth, &c. because the ungodly nations described in Rev. xx. 7, 8, cannot spring from any
other than such survivors. Indeed, the reigning with Christ (Rev. xx. 4), is considered by those who adopt this interpretation, to mean the glori. fied saints reigning over the ungodly persons who, it is conceived, will live through all the events here described. On this interpretation, therefore, 1. Though all the ungodly world, and the whole brute creation on the surface of the earth were destroyed at the flood, yet the ungodly living upon the surface of the earth, at the coming of the day of the Lord, will not be destroyed. 2. On this interpretation, an hypothesis must be set up; namely, that the effect of the fire will not be to burn up the earth, according to the invariable signification of the verb xataxaw in the New Testament, but to purify or refine it,-a sense with which it has not the least connection, as far as I can find, in a single passage in the New Testament, and which is in direct contradiction to the equally express declaration in Heb. i. Il, that the carth shall perish. 3. Ungodly persons having thus lived through all the events which the Holy Ghost has described in such a sublime and extensive manner, would, according to this interpretation, remain, and dwell upon the earth thus purified, and refined, and not only fitted for but actually become the habitation of Christ and his saints who are reigning with him upon it. And, 4. While thus dwelling upon this new earth, they will continue in a state of open enmity against the Son of Man, present and reigning in all the glory and power of his kingdom; and at length ungodly nations, occupying the four quarters of this very new earth, and their number being as the sand of the sea (Rev. xx. 8), would break out into open warfare and compass about the camp of the saints and the beloved city. I would not wish an unchristian expression to escape my pen, but the be new heavens and a new earth, which will be (not like the present earth, the dwelling place of righteousness and of unrighteousness, of the godly mingled with the ungodly, but) emphatically and solely the dwelling place of righteousness (ver. 13). [Note X.]
palpable absurdity of all this is so great, as at once to convince me that an interpretation of what is called the first resurrection (Rev. xx. 4), which would necessarily involve such an absurdity, cannot be according to the mind of the Holy Ghost.
[X] The expression, according to his promise, in ver, 13, we according to his promise look for new heavens and new earth, appears to me to refer to the prophecy concerning the new heavens and new earth. (Isai. lxv. and Ixvi.) Upon this subject I would suggest the following considerations for the reader's deliberation :- First, I conceive the prophecy concerning the creation of the new heavens and earth, like some others, has a twofold fulfilment; one figurative, the other literal. 1. The consideration of the passage itself in Isai. Ixv. and Ixvi. leads me to conceive there has been a creation of a new heavens and earth in a figurative sense; and, 2. the reference which the Holy Ghost has made to it in 2 Pet. iii. 13, equally leads me to expect that there will be a creation of a new heavens and earth in a literal
First. With respect to the figurative sense, the ideas of heaven and earth appear to me to be frequently introduced in the Scriptures in reference to powers among mankind; such as Babylon, Isai. xiji. 10: “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light : the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” Idumea, Isai. xxxiv. 4, 5 : And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven : behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment." Judah, Jer. iv. 23, 24: “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form and void ; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.' Egypt, Ezek. xxxii. 7,8: “ And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark ; I will cover the sun with a clouii, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God” And the heathen Roman empire, Rev. vi. 12–14: “ And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake ; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood : and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig trec casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
"-See Mede, Newton, Gill, on this passage. Bearing, therefore, these passages in mind, in which the heavens and earth are introduced in a figurative sense in reference to powers among men, I venture to call the reader's attention to lsai. Ixv. I find an interpretation of the first two verses of that chapter supplied
From this the following inferences follow. First inference: No ungodly persons can remain in their present state, after the coming of the day of the Lord; both because that is declared to be the time of the destruction
by the Holy Ghost in Rom. X. 20, 21. Here I learn, 1. That those who sought not the Lord, and the nations which were not called by his name (ver. I), signify the Gentiles; and, 2. That the rebellious people to whom the Lord has spread out his hands all the day (ver. 2), signifies the nation of Israel, or the Jews; and, 3. That these verses foretell the calling in of the Gentiles, by the Gospel going forth and being preached to them (Rom. x. 18); of which calling in of the Gentiles, the Lord had given plain intimation to Israel (ver. 19), both by Moses (Deut. xxxii. 21), and by this very prophecy in Isaiah. I conceive, therefore, that by supplying me with this interpretation of the introduction of the prophecy, the Holy Ghost has given me a key to a general interpretation of the whole. Accordingly, in reading the verses which follow, to the 16th, I collect, in a general way, that they first enlarge upon the ungodlinesses of the rebellious people (ver. 2); that is, of the Jews during the periods which preceded the time when the Lord called the Gentiles to behold him (ver. 1). Thus we have the former idolatries and disobedience to the injunctions of the law (vers. 3, 4, 7, 11). Compare Exod. xx. 24, 25; Numb. xix. 11-16, with the disobedience as to some of these injunctions indicated in Luke viii. 32–37; and see, as to their openly ungodly state, Rom. ii. 21-24. We have, in spite of their ungodliness, the proud selfconceit of the Jews as to their own superior righteousness, both in a national and individual point of view (vers. 4,5). Compare Matt. iii. 9; Luke xviii. 11, and xix. 7; John viii. 39, 41; Rom. ii. 17 to 20, and ix. 31, and x. 3. While, however, the nation was thus corrupt, the Lord had still a remnant, or good grapes in the cluster, on which his blessing rested; and, for the sake of which, as his elect, and his servants, he would not destroy the whole nation (ver. 8); and compare Rom. xi. 5, 7, 16, 28. "The Lord denounces judge ments upon the nation in general (ver. 6, 7, 12); but declares that this remnant, his elect and his servants, would be safe as his flock, and would rejoice in him in the midst of these judgments (vers. 9, 10, 13, 14). He next intimates that his servants would, under the Gospel, be called by another name, ver. 15 (compare Rev. iii. 12 with Gal.iv. 24-26; Heb. xii. 22); and that his people would no longer be Israel in name only, but his Israel in true allegiance and sincere dependence (ver. 16).
After the first sixteen verses have, as I conceive, thus set before us the Lord's dealings with the Jews as a nation, he announces, as it appears to me, an entire change in the dispensation or covenant, and the introduction of an entirely new dispensation under the figure of the creation of a new heavens and earth (ver. 17). Viewing it in this light, I conceive that the former (i. e. heavens and earth) in this verse represent the first or Mount-Sinai dispensation, the entire removal of which is expressed by being no more remembered or coming into mind (ver. 17); and the new heavens and earth represent the second or new dispensation or covenant, that from Mount Sion (Heb.
or perishing of ungodly men (ver. 7), and because the earth itself will be then burned up. Therefore the time described (Rev. xx. 7-10) when ungodly nations, numerous as the sand of the sea, occupy the four quarters of
xii. 22). This appears to me to be the figurative meaning of the creation of the new heavens and new earth, from considering the context, and the use of similar figures in the passages referred to above. And I find this confirmed by discovering : First, That the Holy Ghost in 2 Cor. iii. expressly sets forth, that the old dispensation or covenant has been done away or abolished (xatapySuevos, vers. 7, 11, 13) by the introduction of the new dispensation or covenant (8lQ9nxen, vers. 6, 7, 11, 13). Secondly, By finding a similar figure, that of the shaking of the heavens and earth, used in Haggai ji. 6, 7: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come : and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” In this passage, the Lord declares he would shake the heavens and the earth at the time of the coming of Christ, who is styled the Desire of all nations ; to intimate, doubtless, among other things, the opening of the kingdom of heaven at that time to all nations. This coming evidently refers to his first coming, because it was to take place during the existence of the second temple, the latter house (ver. 9). The shaking, therefore, of the heavens and earth must foretell something connected with the temple and ceremonial law; and, accordingly, we find it alluded to in Heb. xii. with an express reference, as it appears to me, to the shaking or removal of the Mount-Sinai dispensation, (ver. 27 compared with ver. 18); and the establishment of that from Mount Sion, of which Jesus is the Mediator (vers. 22, 24), and in which the believer receives (in this life) a kingdom which cannot be shaken (ver. 28, Gr.)
Thirdly, I find the Holy Ghost declaring, that the first covenant was (in agreement with the figure of the old heavens and earth passing away) to be made old and to vanish away, by the bringing in of the new or second covenant or dispensation, Heb viii. 13 : “ In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." And it is expressly declared, that a creation of the church of Christ, out of Jew and Gentile into one new man in Christ himself, took place at and by his abolishing or doing away (xatapynoas) the law of commandments contained in ordinances (that is, the first covenant). Having abolished (or done away) in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, in order that he might create the two (i. e. Jew and Gentile) in himself into one new man, so making peace (Eph. ii. 15, Gr.). And I find the figure of a creation introduced in other passages of the New Testament, with respect to the people of God as united to Christ (Eph. ii. 10 and iv. 24); with an especial reference to the doing away of the distinction between Jew and Gentile, 2 Cor. v. 17: compare vers. 16, 19; Gal. vi. 15.
I venture, therefore, to suggest these considerations to the reader, which have led me, combined with others, to regard this prophecy concerning the creation of a new heaven and earth, as having re