Page images

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 ihat 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 lxvi.) 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. xiii. 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 causc 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, 21: 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 cloud, 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 GodAnd 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. 1), 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. 1 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 re. moval 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 (XATAPYBuevos, vers. 7, 11, 13) by the introduction of the new dispensation or covenant (8129nxn, vers. 6, 7, 11, 13). Secondly, By finding a similar figure, that of the shaking of the heavens and earth, used in Haggai ii. 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 wareth 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 (xatupynoas) 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

the earth, must be before the day of the Lord. But what is called the first resurrection is a thousand years before the period in which these events occur (Rev.xx.7—10): consequently, it must be before the time of the coming of the day of the Lord, both by the whole period of the

ceived a first, a figurative fulfilment, at the first coming of Christ ; in the removal or doing away of the first, the Mount-Sinai dispensation; and the bringing in of the second, the Mount-Sion dispensation; under which his people whom he called and does call, not out of the Jews only, bnt also out of the Gentiles (Rom. ix. 24), are created into one new man in himself.

Secondly. The Holy Ghost by referring to this prophecy in 2 Pet. iii., where he sets before us events which will take place at the second coming of Christ, leads me to conceive, that it will receive a second fulfilment at that second coming; while, by its connection with the context, he equally leads me to expect, that the second fulfilment will not be figurative, as the first was, but literal. I find that the earth and heavens in the preceding context are not used in a figurative sense (as they were in the first fulfilment) but in a literal one; and that the destruction noticed in ver. 6, and the water, fire, elements (vers. 5, 7, 10), are not figurative, but literal. Hence, as when the heavens and earth were used in a figurative sense in Isai. Ixv. 17; and when, in analogy therewith, the first fulfilment of the prophecy itself concerning the creation of a new heavens and earth was also figurative ; so when in 2 Pet iii. the heavens and earth, as well as the rest of the things noticed, are not figurative but literal ; the second fulfilment will, I feel assured, be, according to the same analogy of interpretation, literal also. Hence I conceive that a new heavens (in what extent of signification the word heavens is used I know not, as already observed) and new earth will be created in a literal sense, in the place of the present heavens which will pass away, and the present earth which will be burnt up at the second coming of Christ. And I venture to observe, that there may be somewhat of the same relation, as it were, and somewhat of the same comparison as to degree of excellence between the present and the new earth (created possibly, and, if I may so speak, raised from the ashes of the present one); as between the present vile body of the believer, and his glorified body raised from the dust into which his present body will have crumbled. And the declaration that this new heavens and earth will be the dwelling place of righteousness, and that these are the objects towards which the believer's hope and desire are looking (ver. 13), combined with the description in Rev. xxi. and xxii. relative to the new heavens and earth, lead me to anticipate with (I trust) hope and desire that on this new created, this raised heavens and earth, the raised and glorified King of saints will reign for ever; and his raised and glorified saints will reign for ever with him (Rev. xxii. 3—5), he as their God, and they as his people (xxi. 3). And thus, in all the fulness of its glorious signification, will be fulfilled that promise, Rev. xxi. 5: And he that sat upon the throne, said, BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW."

thousand years, and by the period during which the events (Rev. xx. 7-10) will take place; and, therefore, it cannot be the same as the resurrection of the saints, which will take place at the coming of the day of the Lord. Inference second : The coincidence between the description which the Holy Ghost has here given us of the events which will take place at the coming of the day of the Lord, with that which he has given us of the events which will take place when the Lord sits upon the white throne of judgment, proves to me that the events and time which he describes in each, are one and the same. 1. As in ver. 7, the judgment of ungodly men is noticed; so in Rev. xx. 11, the throne of judgment is set. 2. As the heavens pass away, and the earth is burned up at the coming of the day of the Lord (ver. 10); so the heavens and the earth flee away before Christ, when he sits upon the throne of judgment, and their place is found no more (Rev. xx. 11). 3. As a new heavens and new earth succeed in the place of the present heavens and earth, which will pass away (Trapedevonytai, ver. 10) at the coming of the day of the Lord (ver. 13); so a new heavens and a new earth are declared to be in the place of the first heaven and first earth which had passed away, (tapn10€, Rev. xxi. 1). The striking coincidence which there appears to me to be in these points between the two descriptions, prove to my mind that they are descriptions of one and the same course of events ; and, consequently, that the time of each is the same. Hence I feel assured, that the time of the judgment (Rev. xx. 11-15) will be that of the coming of the day of the Lord, as in 2 Pet. iii. 10. But what is called the first resurrection, is before the judgment by the period of the thousand years, and by the intervening period noticed, Rev. xx. 1-10. Consequently, it must be also equally before the coming of the day of the Lord ; and therefore before the resurrection of the saints, which will take place at the coming of the day of the Lord.

XIX. Jude 14: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, 15 to execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have

« PreviousContinue »