For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:18 )
If we do not currently have a new heaven and a new earth, would we therefore still be under every stipulation of the Law, many of which focus on animal sacrifices for salvation? The answer to this question requires understanding what is meant by the “passing away” of “heaven and earth,” as well as the terms “New Heaven” and “New Earth.” Of course these terms could refer to a coming atmospheric or comic occurrence. However the Bible does not refer to such a situation. Instead, these terms, when left within the biblical context of prophetic symbolism, shows something quite different.
Isaiah 66:7-24 is about the coming of Jesus and His New Covenant. Isaiah starts this chapter by condemning those who trust in physical things for their salvation. He ends this prophecy with a promise that the “new heaven” and “new earth” (verses 20-23) would be established with Jews and Gentiles, that these groups would be God’s priests and Levites, and that judgment would come against those living in disobedience.
This prophecy was fulfilled when the New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant. At that time the former heaven and the former earth was replaced by a New Temple and a New Earth. The former heaven is synonymous with the Jewish Temple, and the former earth is reference to the physical place where the Temple sat, which is Jerusalem. These Old Covenant ‘types and shadows’ were replaced by a New Temple, which is the place where God dwells, that is to say, the Holy Ghost in the redeemed; and a New Earth, which is synonymous with the “New Jerusalem,” i.e. the Church, the “body of Christ,” the “City sitting on a hill” that shines as a beacon of light to the world (See Matthew 5:14; Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:4-6; John 2:19-21; Ephesians 5:19-22; Revelation 21:1-2).
Within scriptural context, THE TEMPLE MOUNT WAS WHERE HEAVEN TOUCHED EARTH. Traditionally, from atop its plateau GOD FORMED THE ENTIRE WORLD including ADAM FROM THE DUST OF THE EARTH. It was also said to be the mountain where God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt sacrifice. Scripturally it was the mount where Isaac’s son, Jacob, dreamt of a ladder stretching from its place up into heaven on which angels ascended and descended between its terrestrial and celestial span. Upon waking from this dream, Jacob called this mount “Beth-El,” which means “House of God,” i.e. “Temple” (see Genesis 28:10-22; 2 Chronicles 5:1-14; Matthew 12:3-4). In the years of King David, he purchased this same mountaintop after his army captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites. Later, David gave his son, Solomon, the task of building the Temple on this mountaintop (see 2 Samuel 5:6-7, 2 Samuel 24:24-25). Then during the New Testament, the Temple’s mountain served as the platform from which Jesus pronounced the judgment that was soon coming against His generation (see Matthew 23:36-39, Matthew 24:21-23; Mark 13:1-4; Luke 21:5-7).
The heart of the Temple is the Most Holy Place. This is the “room” where man would meet with God once a year on Yom Kippur. This is analogous to all the meetings where man met with God on Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah was the place on which the Temple sat. That mountain was the “earth” on which the approach to heaven was found. This teaching is confirmed in the following Jewish Midrash:
“As the navel is set in the centre of the human body,
so is the land of Israel the navel of the world…
situated in the centre of the world,
and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel,
and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem,
and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary,
and the ark in the centre of the holy place,
and the foundation stone before the holy place,
because from it the world was founded.”
– Midrash Tanchuma, Qedoshim.
The Temple sitting in Jerusalem was the old approach through which God allowed man to approach His presence. In the New Covenant, man approaches the Almighty God through Jesus Christ and His Church. The Church has the foundational message whereby mankind can be reconciled to God. The Bible confirms this when it describes Jesus as mankind’s “propitiation.” This makes Jesus the “MERCY SEAT.”
“PROPTIATION,” defined by Strong’s: G2435 hilasterion hil-as-tay’-ree-on
Neuter of a derivative of G2433; an expiatory (place or thing), that is, (concretely) an atoning victim, or (specifically) the lid of the Ark (in the Temple): – mercyseat, propitiation.
The Mercy Seat is THE PLACE within the HOLY OF HOLIES where the High Priest could come to make atonement for the sins of all mankind, and could supernaturally communicate with the Lord God.
(25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [MERCY SEAT] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Paul was thus proclaiming that Jesus is our “Mercy Seat.” Since the Mercy Seat was located within the Temple and beyond the veil of the Holy of Holies (now Jesus’ flesh – see Hebrews 10:20) and another reference to the Temple), we can see here a reference to Jesus being mankind’s MOST HOLY PLACE.
John said that Jesus is our atonement…
1 John 2:2
(2) And he is the propitiation [atonement] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Paul said Jesus is our meeting place [Mercy Seat] through which we can talk with God…
1 Timothy 2:5
(5) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
John said that Jesus was the Temple of the New Jerusalem (the Church)…
(22) And I saw no temple therein: for THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY AND THE LAMB ARE THE TEMPLE OF IT.
The term “Holy of Holies” is a rabbinic evasive synonym for “where the presence of God dwells.” Every believer should “amen” that understanding because “where the presence of God dwells” perfectly describes Jesus! Jesus WAS WHERE GOD WAS! The Holy of Holies is also a double emphasis that says “GOD OF GODS” or “LORD of LORDS”! Again this perfectly describes Jesus Christ!
The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant. As a result, the former heaven (the Jewish Temple) and the former earth (the place the Temple sat, Jerusalem) is now replaced by a New Temple (the Holy Ghost in the redeemed) and a New Earth (the New Jerusalem, which is the Church, the City sitting on a hill that shines as a beacon of light to the world). Jesus said this transformation would happen at the passing of the Old Covenant’s Law system: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled“ (Matthew 5:18).
Isaiah 66 ends with verse 24 pronouncing judgment on those who refuse its message. The generation that saw this prophecy come to pass saw this take place during the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem (See Matthew 21:31-45; Matthew 23:29-39; Luke 21:6, Luke 21:20, Luke 21:24).
© 2008 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.