New Heavens and New Earth

How is the new heavens and new earth compared to the temple in the Old Testament?

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Part of the glorious vision that St. John gives us of the new heavens and the new earth, which is to say, the renewed creation, is that he shows that in some ways it's like but much greater and more wonderful than the Old Testament temple. So, if we think about the promises of God in the Old Testament for the temple, it was the place where his glory would dwell, it was the place, although God was available for prayer and intercession anywhere, you could call upon him from any place, yet uniquely, his presence would be there to protect and to save and to forgive his people. It's so striking that in Revelation 21 John says, "And I saw no temple in the city," talking there about the vision of the last day and of the heavenly Jerusalem which has now come down — again, it's always down, the direction of salvation is always from God down to us, right? So, in the new creation there is no temple, and one way to understand that is that the promise of the Old Testament temple and of God's saving presence has now been exploded and expanded to embrace the entire creation, so that will God dwell with his people? Yes, but in a way so great that we can scarcely imagine. Will God wipe away every tear from their eyes? Yes. And, as I like to say, we'll have eyes — as Job said, "My own eyes will see him and not another." So, it's, the Old Testament temple, is the type. The new creation is the anti-type, greater, more powerful, more wonderful than we can ever imagine.

Answer by Dr. Jeffrey A. Gibbs

Dr. Jeffrey A. Gibbs is Professor Emeritus at Concordia Seminary.