Isaiah’s New Heavens

Everyone knows what Isaiah’s new heavens and new earth is all about, right? Spoiler alert! Some regard Isaiah 65:17-19; 66:22 as referring to the end of time. Others understand it to have been a prophesy informing post-exilic Israel how God would rebuild worship in Jerusalem in their time.

Why such divergent interpretations? The short answer involves assumptions, methods and goals. Whether we realize it or not, this is also why we hold onto whatever views we might have.

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Isaiah’s new heaven and new earth

Did you know that in Isaiah’s new heavens and new earth people die (Isaiah 65:17-22), but typically not before reaching a hundred years old? Put another way, they will succeed in living as long as trees do. This can span several hundred years. Yet, I thought that people would live forever in heaven! What’s this?

How do we handle such an unexpected wrinkle? Ignore or downplay death in heaven? Assert Isaiah’s descriptive language constitutes a metaphor for something else? Embrace the security of the most popularly accepted viewpoint?

Perhaps the best approach begins by avoiding intuitive conclusions in order to examine the context. As many have acknowledged, “Context is king.”
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