Wanna take the new heavens challenge? Can you identify what each of these verses describes? You will notice that their language is somewhat similar. But first, a scenario with a few quick questions.
Here’s the scenario. We walk into a room to discover an oil painting mostly shrouded by a canvas. Would we consider speaking confidently about what the small exposed portion might signify? Would we demand to see the rest of the painting before providing our understanding of what had been initially uncovered?
What if the small exposed section contained the color red? We know that socialistic and communistic communities emphasize red. Would we consider interpreting the painting as being tied in some way to a socialistic or communistic ideology?
If we are not willing to say something about the painting because we cannot see the context, will we handle scripture in the same way?
Keep your answers in mind as you consider what the following snippets of text signify. Do they all refer to the same idea since they contain the same phraseology?
- For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. Isaiah 65:17,18
- For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD,“So your offspring and your name will endure. Isaiah 66:22
- But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. 2 Peter 3:13
- Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:1,2
Well, what did you decide?
If red is not always associated with political ideologies, might the phrase “new heavens” convey different ideas in different contexts? Or does this phrase always signify the same thing?
Which do we regard as being more important: What the text means to us? An author-centered interpretation?
It might be that you are well acquainted with the surrounding contexts for each of this quotes. In this case, the literary contexts for these snippets were not veiled for you.
We’ll explore this new heavens challenge in the coming weeks as we pull off the shroud exposing each of these verses within their literary contexts. First up are the texts in Isaiah 65-66.
The next article in this series is here.