What are the New Heavens and New Earth?
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13)
The Jehovah’s Witnesses use this verse to support their theory that this present earth will never be destroyed. They claim that the Lord intends to ‘refurbish’ the planet, placing it back into the pristine condition of the Garden of Eden. According to them, the majority of the righteous will occupy this restored earth. Are they right?
Look carefully at the context. Verse 7 says “the heavens and the earth which are now . . . are kept in store, reserved unto fire.” Verse 10 promises that “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Verse 11 says “all these things shall be dissolved.” Verse 12 repeats that “the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”
With all this being true, the idea that the present world and physical universe will exist forever cannot be true. In fact, verse 13 (the one the Jehovah’s Witnesses like to use) actually says that we are looking for “new heavens and a new earth”, not the same heavens and the same earth that are to be somehow restored or refurbished!
So, what are the ‘new heavens and new earth’’? Think of it this way: we currently live in ‘the heavens and earth’ – it is our environment; our dwelling place. Peter proclaims that this environment or dwelling place is going to be destroyed, and we are looking for a new environment; a new place to live and dwell. For the righteous, that dwelling place will be with the Lord (Matthew 25:46).