What Happens When Heaven and Earth Pass Away?(What Does It Mean?)

Have you ever imagined what the end of the World will look like? I have. As a Theology student, I found the Biblical description terrifying, and the expositions did little to alleviate my fears. However, a college senior helped me understand that some descriptions were figurative while others were factual. He insisted that whatever the case, the end was meant to inspire hope, not dread. This new perspective helped me understand eschatology better. It was handy decades later when I faced a similar question from my students. They were working on a paper on the end times and couldn’t agree on what happens when Heaven and Earth pass away. They were split between treating it figuratively or literally. We spent an afternoon exploring different arguments and sharing our perspectives. I also shared what I learned through research and studying the Word. So, what happens when Heaven and Earth pass away?

According to Revelation 21:1-5, God will replace this World with a new one. This aligns with His promise to restore the World in Isaiah 65:17. However, before this restoration, fire will destroy the current World, as explained in 2 Peter 3:10. The Bible teaches that Heaven and Earth must pass away to make room for the new Heaven and Earth, where God will dwell among his people.

This article explores what this phenomenon means. I invite you to join me in studying what Jesus said and whether this event already happened.

Where in the Bible does Jesus say Heaven and Earth will pass away?

Jesus first mentions this in Matthew 5:18, during the Sermon on the Mount. He introduced a new way of thinking in the beatitudes and was responding to an underlying assumption among his listeners. Some people who heard him thought he was setting up a new Law to replace the Mosaic Law.

Jesus responded by saying that the Law will outlive Heaven and Earth. This is a hyperbole used to emphasize the truthfulness and longevity of the Law. We also see it in Isaiah 40:8.

We see Jesus mention Heaven and Earth passing away in the Olivet discourse recorded in Matthew 24:35-36. Here, Jesus taught about the end times and predicted the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

This context provides a dual meaning – the eternity of Jesus’ words and the temporal nature of the World as we know it. The second meaning is more of an undertone seen when you study the sequence of events in that chapter in light of what Revelation teaches — the World as we know it will come to an end.

We have parallel references to Heaven and Earth passing in Mark 13:31, Luke 16:17, and Luke 21:33.

What does it mean that Heaven and Earth will pass away?

What Happens When Heaven and Earth Pass Away?
What does it mean that Heaven and Earth will pass away? Image source: Pixabay

Heaven and Earth passing away refer to the recreation of the World, as taught in Revelation. The Bible is full of prophecies about the end times. The most prominent of these points to the destruction of this World and the birth of a new one.

Prophet Isaiah, for instance, taught that the stars dissolved, the Heavens rolled up, and the Heavenly bodies will fall like withered leaves (Isaiah 34:4). Peter, in his letter, tells us that fire will consume the World, leaving it bare (2 Peter 3:10-13). Finally, John saw a new Heaven and Earth replace this World (Revelation 21:1). Heaven and Earth passing away speaks of the final restoration of the World to a state of perfection, free from sin and sinners.

Why Does The Bible Say Heaven And Earth Will Pass Away?

The Bible teaches that Heaven and Earth will pass away to fulfill God’s promise and emphasizes the longevity of God’s Word.

In the first case, God promised to renew and restore creation. We see these promises in Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:17, and 66:22. He promised these things to give us hope in our journey through life. Paul taught that creation earnestly waits for its redemption, and so do we. God started this work through the cross; he redeemed our souls from eternal damnation. However, God will perfect this work by redeeming our bodies at the resurrection and restoring creation to its original and perfect state. When He does all these things, God shall live among His people for all eternity (Revelation 21:3-5).

In the second instance, the phrase “Heaven and Earth will pass away” is a literary device used to emphasize the truth being said. Although the Bible teaches the end of time, few people believe it, and fewer can imagine it. Most people believe this World will last forever. As such, this phrase contrasts with this belief by saying that the words spoken will outlive the World. God used it to assure his people that what He said shall come to pass, even if the World ends before its fulfillment.

Have Heaven and Earth passed away?

What Happens When Heaven and Earth Pass Away?
Have Heaven and Earth passed away? Image source: Pixabay

No, Heaven and Earth are still here. Remember, this phrase is used in eschatology. The Old and New Testaments refer to a New World full of peace and eternal bliss. Isaiah describes this World as a peaceful place where all of nature coexists in harmony and is filled with righteousness brought by knowing God. John tells us it’s a place of joy, free from pain, tears, and mourning, where God lives among His people. Our current World doesn’t come close to the descriptions offered by the prophets. Consequently, we can safely assume that Heaven and Earth are still here, and so are we.

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