One of the things I enjoy doing is taking what I’ve learned from my reading and my listening to various teachings and bringing it to others. This is how knowledge and information are passed on. In the Christian sphere, it’s how we disciple others even as we have been discipled in one manner or another.
My recent emphasis has been on the expanding of my Biblical worldview through what I’ve gleaned from Dr. Michael S. Heiser in reading several of his books, including The Unseen Realm. I’m a pretty good parrot. I absorb information and am blessed with the ability to reformulate it and convey it to others. The last three teaching sessions I’ve done at my church have centered around what I’ve learned from Dr. Heiser and replaying that to disturb the comfortable westernized, Christianized worldview that so many hold.
At the end of one of these sessions, I was asked a question about what it means for us to be a part of restoring Eden to the earth following the Tribulation and Millennium. Of course, after the Final Judgment where Satan, all his cohort, and unbelieving humans are relegated for eternity into the Lake of Fire, the earth is purified with fire.
There are a couple of theories about how this happens. One is that God completely destroys the earth and creates a brand new one. Another theory is that He takes the existing earth and purifies it with fire. I ascribe to the second approach. The reason is that the final result of the Millennium is that all beings that have transgressed against God are dealt with, but the sin resident in the earth remains. Remember, the earth groans for redemption. That means it’s essentially seeking relief from the curse and the blood that’s been shed over its existence. I’m not at all attributing sentience to the earth as the Gaia crowd would. I’m simply restating the Biblical terminology that Paul uses in Romans 8:19-24.
If the view I take is correct, then God will somehow bring a purifying fire upon the existing earth to bring it the relief it requires from its bondage to decay. Fire will make all things new; it will basically restore the earth to its original condition following the initial creation. In its infancy, we know what happened next. God created man and commanded him to multiply, subdue the earth, rule and take dominion over it. Of course, the Fall halted that mandate.
After the Flood, God again commanded Noah and his descendants to do exactly the same thing. He didn’t change His mind about what He wanted. The earth was effectively brand new once again. It needed to be tamed. Man needed to spread out over it and take dominion as God envisioned. Again, this didn’t happen because of the Tower of Babel incident. Once more, God’s intent was put on hold.
When the New Heavens and New Earth are finally in place, the question arises, “What next?” We humans have such a limited perspective. Prior to the initial creation of the earth, what was God doing all those years backward into the infinity prior to His creating us and our world? We have no idea. But, we can look at His work in earth’s creation and what He has intended for mankind to accomplish and know that He’s a busy guy. God doesn’t sit around on His throne and eat bon-bons all day while His heavenly family simply floats on clouds playing harps and worshiping Him. Indeed, they do worship Him, but they also have many other activities of which we’re unaware.
He creates various beings, heavenly and human, for a reason. He enjoys us and the interaction with us in the accomplishment of His divine purposes. Personally, I think it would be pretty boring for God Himself to just sit around all day doing nothing but hearing the infinite praises of his creation. My point is that there’s more going on than we give God credit for.
Thus, once we come to the place where we have the New Heavens and New Earth, why should we think that God’s intent will be any different? Why should we think that He has changed His initial, and once repeated, mandate, to subdue the earth? Why should we think that once the world has become brand new that we—now in glorified, spiritual bodies like Jesus—will sit on our clouds, play our harps, and join God in devouring heavenly chocolates forever and a day?
Hebrews 13:8 tells us:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
If we believe this, then God’s Plan A for His human—now divine—family is to finally fulfill His original command. It has never changed. “You’ve got an entire earth out there to bring into submission according to My will, as I wanted you to do from the very beginning. Go and do it.” Only now, because we’ve finally come to the point of trusting God and choosing to follow Him in all things, newly reconstituted humanity will do exactly what He wants.
We have no clue what that really looks like at this point a millennium removed from that task. However, we can be assured that God will engage us in good and meaningful work because that’s who He is and what He wants for His creation.
Let’s not limit God. Let’s not take our preconceived ideas that we somehow got through our Sunday school lessons as children, and embrace a false picture of God and the magnificence of what He intends. Instead, let’s look forward to a meaningful, useful eternity where—yes—we’ll worship God forever, but doing so in the context of an amazing work that He sets forth for us.