Earth – the place where we live

Sometimes, I wonder if people allow the complex to overshadow the simple, because the simple is, well, simple.

Sung Wook Chung, in his paper that argues that reformed covenant theology and premillennialism can meet (reformed theology has generally been amillennial), wants to say that there is something fundamentally different about the new heavens and earth such that God’s promises have to be fulfilled in the current heavens and earth and not the new. He never states why, however.

Thing is, this comes down to just what you think ‘earth’ as a theological, cosmological term means.

So, what does it mean?

Well, its very simple. The earth is where we live. Heaven, cosmologically, is where God is. Earth is where we are.

At this point, it becomes very important that you remember what Graeme Goldsworthy told us about God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule. See, it’s not that God’s people go to God’s place, i.e., heaven. It’s that God comes down to us and dwells with us and makes his place in our place. That’s why we have a bodily resurrection.

Cosmologically, it is not important whether or not the new earth is made of a new material or is a parallel universe or is a completely different N-dimensional space-time. The new earth is where we live, but new. The newness is not about material, but about sin, or rather, the lack of it. Our earth is filled with sin. But it will be freed of that bondage when sin is cleansed from this world. Then the world will be new. It may or may not have had a physical rewrite. It may or may not have suffered massive molecular breakdown and re-formation. But it will still fundamentally be the realm in which humans live, and in which God will dwell also in perfect relationship with those who remain, the faithful.

The context in which God gives his promise is not a couple of bazillion atoms strung together with gravity into a roughly spherical shape orbiting a yellow star in the Perseus arm of an otherwise uninteresting galaxy. No, the context in which God gives his promises is the realm in which humans live. Not the primeval chaos, not the heavens, not sheol, but earth. And that’s why God’s people will live in his place, this ‘realm’, the place where God dwells among men and they live, the new earth, under his perfect rule forever.

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