I’m presently involved in a study about the nature of the Kingdom of God, have been for quite some time now. Many futurists, namely those who look for Christ to come to the earth sometime in our future, believe that, when Jesus comes, he will set up a physical Kingdom on earth and reign from physical Jerusalem. Some believe this will take place at or initiate the Millennium, while others conclude Jesus will arrive after the Millennium. Many of these futurists also believe Christ will renovate or destroy and then recreate the heavens and the earth, and will then reign in an Eden type or utopian Kingdom. But does this fit what the Bible says about Jesus’ return?
In this study I’d like to focus on when and if this physical recreation / renovation will begin to take place. The problem is that many futurist will also tell us that the Kingdom of God has already broken into the ‘old creation’. That is, the Kingdom of God exists today in its spiritual ‘not with observation’ state, but the Kingdom will be manifest for all to see at the so-called Second Coming. If it is true that the new creation has already broken into the old creation, as a spiritual Kingdom (2Corinthians 5:17), then it is logical to conclude that improvements of the physical creation should be seen as well. After all, if the ‘new creation’ is spiritual and physical, and the ‘new creation’ has already broken into the old creation in its spiritual form, then, why wouldn’t we expect some sort of improvements to gradually take place in the physical realm, as well?
I know of nothing to report, do you? That is, pigs still don’t fly, serpents still don’t walk and apes still don’t talk. So, if nothing like this has occurred in physical creation, I wonder how this failure in logic affects the assumed reality of a coming physical recreation to be consummated at the assumed Second Coming, which is yet in our future.
In 2Corinthians 3-6 Paul offers what amounts to his interpretation of the basic tenets of Ezekiel 37, as I mentioned earlier, but he also points to Isaiah 65 and adapts its principles to the New Testament believers. Isaiah 65 prophesies against Israel and Judah (Isaiah 65:1-9), saying he will destroy the nation, but save the elect of Israel and Judah (verse-9). He describes his work as like one speaks of new wine: “don’t destroy it, because there is a blessing in it.” Therefore, the Lord won’t destroy the whole nation but save the elect (verse-8). This is what Paul describes in 2Corinthians 5:17 – “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new!”
The new creation has broken into the old, and is being saved, as the old is being brought to destruction (cf. Isaiah 65:12-15). Paul also refers to this idea, not only in 2Corinthians 5:17, but also in his argument at the beginning of the chapter:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
Paul is speaking in covenantal language, where ‘our earthly house’ is the body of Moses (Hebrews 3:2), and the ‘building of God’ is Christ (Hebrews 3:3, 6). Paul is writing to many at Corinth who were Jews and obligated to some degree to the Old Covenant, which wasn’t completely set aside at that time (cf. Acts 21:20). Notice Paul’s argument above. “If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved…” if the Old Covenant (i.e. the old creation or old building of Moses) were dissolved, we have a new “building of God” in the heavens—i.e. Christ. They earnestly desired to be clothed upon with Christ (cf. Galatians 3:27), who is in heaven. So that, when the old was dissolved, they wouldn’t find themselves naked—i.e. without a covenantal relationship with God (2Corinthains 5:3). For they who were in Moses (i.e. in his house), didn’t want to be unclothed (without a relationship with God) but to be clothed with Life (verse-4), and the Holy Spirit was given to help them through that ordeal (verse-5).
Therefore, they were able to take heart, so that, while they worked with God through their present circumstance, awaiting the consummation of the change from Moses to Christ (from the dissolving of the Old Covenant to the consummation of the New), and although greatly desiring to be at home with the Lord, their great ambition was to be pleasing to him no matter what their present circumstance (verses 6-9). Because, they hoped to receive the reward for their faithfulness in that body at the judgment seat of Christ (verse-10).
Therefore, not only does it appear that the new creation has to do with spiritual things rather than the physical creation, but extending the consummation of the new creation nearly 2000 years into the future violates the imminent character of the eschatology of the New Testament writers, and not only so, but would keep the Old Covenant in force until this very day.