In the previous article were presented five different lines of interpretation of the “new heavens and new earth” in Isaiah 65. The fifth line, which advocates a continuity principle between the Millennium and the Eternal State, is view defended by Integrative Dispensationalism.

This principle of continuity between the two periods states (or even dispensations) has a large and insightful implications in the way we understand the eternal state: its nature, its quality, its features, its aspects and so on. Before we talk of these implications, let’s look at a historical factor in dispensationalism tradition view of Eternal State.

 

Does The Bible has little to say about the new heaven and the new earth of eternity?

In the history of dispensationalism, this principle of continuity was not emphasized, or even when it was recognized, the Millennium features were separated from the Eternal State characteristics. For this reason, it is common to find in the Dispensational books of Eschatology the claim that the Bible has little to say about new heaven and new earth of eternity.

For example, commenting on the Eternal State, in the book Major Bible Themes, Dr. Lewis Chafer says:

“The strange silence of Scripture on the appearance of both the new earth and the new heaven is nowhere explained. Instead our attention is directed immediately to the holy city of the new Jerusalem.”

Dr. Walvoord, following the same line of thinking, says:

“Scriptural revelation gives very little information about the new heaven and the new earth, except by inferring that it is quite different than our present earth. The only major characteristic mentioned is that there will not be any longer any sea in contrast to the present situation where most of the earth is covered with water. It is apparent as the narration goes on that the new earth is round because there are directions of north, south, east, and west (v. 13), but there is no indication as to whether the new earth is larger or smaller than our present earth.”[2]

Dwight Pentecost begins his chapter of the Eternal State, in his famous work Things to Come, with the following words:

“While the Word of God does not give a great mass of detail concerning the eternal kingdom, sufficient is given to give the child of God a full assurance of the glorious expectation that awaits him in his eternal relation to the Father and the Son.”[3]

In the book The Interpretation of Prophecy, Paul Lee Tan states:

“There is a paucity of Scriptural revelation regarding the Eternal State… of the new heaven and earth’s configuration, size, and appearance, we know nothing.”[4]

The statements above, followed by most of the dispensational authors, are partially correct, as we will see from now on.

 

The Integrative Dispensational View of the Eternal State

Given the principle of continuity between the Millennium and the Eternal State, Integrative Dispensationalism divides the biblical prophecies that deal with Eternal State into two categories:

  • Direct Prophecies: This category of prophecy deals only with the Eternal State and its features. As a classic example, we can mention Revelation 21-22.
  • Indirect Prophecies: This category of prophecy exists because of the principle of continuity between the Millennium and the Eternal State. In the words of Merrill Unger: “Isaiah’s vision, while glimpsing the Kingdom age… is projected into eternity… So the prophecy employs language that, although applicable to a degree to millennial conditions, will be fully realized on the regenerated Earth, which will follow upon the postmillennial renovation by fire.”[5]

 To understand how these two categories operate in relation to Traditional Dispensationalism, we can make the following graphical comparison:

TRADITIONAL VIEW OF ETERNAL ESTATE PROPHECIES

 

INTEGRATIVE DISPENSATIONALISM VIEW OF ETERNAL STATE PROPHECIES

Note that the traditional view that the Bible has little to say about the eternal state is partially correct if we look from the perspective of direct prophecies. But this is not the only perspective that exists, as recent authors have pointed out. However, with the principle of continuity in mind, I suggest an affirmation that, in my opinion, better reflect the reality of Bible prophecies about Eternal State. Rather than speak that the Bible has little to say about Eternity, I believe that the best statement would be: “The Bible has much to tell us about the eternal state, when we consider the direct and indirect prophecies about the New Heaven and Earth.”

When we understand this truth, we will be certainly amazed by so much information that the Bible gives us about our eternal home. Dr. Paul Enns is not an Integrative Dispensationalist (in fact, he does not even know what that means). However, his book Heaven Revealed serves as a perfect example of the Integrative view of Eternal State. I do not need to reinvent the wheel, so I separated a few sentences of Dr. Paul Enns important book, that contains compelling arguments in favor of a continuity between the two states:

“That kingdom is the ultimate heaven—God’s rule and fellowship with redeemed humanity on earth. It is the new earth that Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 65:17) and John foresaw (Rev. 21:1). Nor is there a conflict between Isaiah’s words and John’s vision. They are the same. It is the coming kingdom of God—heaven’s rule on earth. That was God’s original design in Genesis 1, and it will be fulfilled as foretold in Revelation 21.”[6]

“Since Isaiah (Isa. 65:17) and John (Rev. 21:1) both describe the new heaven and the new earth, it is reasonable to conclude that many of the conditions Isaiah describes in chapter 65 refer not only to the millennium, but also to the eternal state on the new earth. God’s original purpose also demands this.”[7]

“The glories of the kingdom that Christ will establish at His second coming will persist throughout the millennium and continue for all eternity on the new earth. Scripture provides abundant support that there is a continuity between the millennium and the eternal state on the new earth. It will be glorious. It will be heaven revealed!”[8]

“The prophet Daniel says, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed … it will itself endure forever” (Dan. 2:44). Daniel has previously discussed the earthly kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (vv. 36–43). What were these kingdoms? They were earthly kingdoms. Daniel explains that “in the days of those kings” Christ will establish His kingdom. Clearly, it will be an earthly kingdom. But this kingdom, while inaugurating the millennium, will extend beyond the millennium because Daniel says this kingdom will “never be destroyed”; it will “endure forever.”[9]

“In the Davidic covenant, God promised David that his descendant—the Messiah—would inaugurate a kingdom that would endure “forever,” and His throne “shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16). Psalm 89 speaks similarly: “I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations” (Ps. 89:3–4). These passages are frequently understood to refer to the millennium, and that is undoubtedly true, but when the term “forever” is used, it cannot be limited to the thousand years of the millennium. Clearly, there is a sense of continuity with the eternal state.”[10]

“The new earth will have Eden everywhere, as earth is restored to Eden-like conditions with peace in every realm—in the animal world and in the plant world. People will build homes on the new earth without worrying about floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes. They will reap bumper crops in their harvesting—no drought, blight, flood, or infestation will ruin their crops (Isa. 65:21b; Amos 9:13; Ezek. 34:26–27).”[11]

“These promises cannot refer only to the millennial kingdom that exists for one thousand years (Rev. 20:4–6). One thousand means one thousand; forever means forever. They are not the same. The laws of hermeneutics will not allow confining Christ’s kingdom to a thousand years. The clear teaching of Scripture indicates Christ’s kingdom will continue forever. The millennial kingdom will be a part of Christ’s promised kingdom, but Christ’s kingdom will continue eternally, beyond the millennial kingdom. Christ’s kingdom will continue on the new, renovated earth (Isa. 65:17; Rev. 21:1).”[12]

“The conclusion must be that many of the passages that describe the millennial kingdom also, in continuity, describe the new heaven and the new earth—the eternal state.”[13]

The same view is advocated by progressive dispensationalists. For example, Craig Blaising, advocating a continuity between the Millennium and Eternal State, writes:

“A key feature in Old Testament eschatology concerns a future kingdom that God will set up on this earth and which will be everlasting in duration. We can see this in Daniel 2:34-35, 44; Isaiah 2:2-4; and Micah 4:1-8.”[14]

David L. Turner said:

“…the Old Testament passages that form the basis of Revelation 20–22, especially Ezekiel 40–48 and Isaiah 60–66, make no neat break between the Millennium and the eternal state. The heightened blessings of Christ’s millennial reign will be further intensified to their ultimate degree in the eternal state, but the difference is only in degree, not in kind.”[15]

Personally, I think the context clearly indicates that Isaiah had in mind, not “New Heaven and New Earth” of just a thousand years, but “New Heaven and New Earth” that would start with a thousand years, partially, and would extend throughout eternity, completely. For example, we read in chapter 66 the following words about the duration of the “new heavens and the new earth”:

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord.” (Isa. 66.22-23)

The following graphic represents the Integrative view of the continuity between the Millennium and Eternal State:

CONTINUITY MILLENNIUM AND ETERNAL STATE

 

Author: 

Author


Notes:

[1] Chafer, Lewis Sperry; Walvoord, John F. (2010-12-21). Major Bible Themes (p. 369). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[2] Walvoord, J. F. (1990). The prophecy knowledge handbook (p. 632). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Dwight Pentecost. Things to Come. Pg 547

[4] Paul Lee Tan. The Interpretation of Prophecy. Pg 357

[5] Merrill F. Unger. Ungers’s Commentary on The Old Testament. Pg 1334

[6] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 60). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[7] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 88).

[8] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 92).

[9] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 87).

[10] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 87).

[11] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 89).

[12] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 62). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[13] Enns, Paul P. (2011-02-21). Heaven Revealed: What Is It Like? What Will We Do?… And 11 Other Things You’ve Wondered About (p. 85). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[14] Craig Blaising in Bock, Darrell L. Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Kindle Locations 2914-2915).

[15] Blaising, Craig A.; Bock, Darrell L. (2010-07-14). Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition (Kindle Locations 4968-4971). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.