Several weeks ago in the message, "Inspiration and the Second Coming," we looked at the time statements in the Bible as to the coming of the Lord. We saw that He said He would come—while some that were standing there were still living; in that generation; soon; quickly; at hand; He said His coming was near. Everywhere that the Bible talks about the Lord's coming it gives us a time statement. The New Testament saints fully expected the Lord to return in their lifetime. How could we possibly miss this? Yet the majority of believers today, some two thousand years later are still saying that the Lord will return soon. Can the same event be imminent at two different periods of time separated by two thousand years?
Someone said to me that they felt that the Lord said He was coming "soon" because He wanted every generation to be watching for Him. Think about that. What that means is that when He told the first century believers that He was coming back soon, He really didn't mean it, He was giving them false information to keep them looking for Him. Can you live with that? If that was the case what else did He tell them that wasn't true? Do we have a God who intentionally deceives men? Isn't it much easier to simply believe what Yeshua said and believe that He came back in the first century?
What is at stake here is the inspiration of Scripture. If Yeshua was mistaken or if He lied to us then what good is the rest of the Bible? There are those opponents who say that if you believe that Yeshua came back in the first century then you don't need to read your Bible any more. I don't understand that argument, but if Yeshua didn't come back in the first century, when He said that He would then you might as well throw your Bible out because if it isn't inspired, it isn't any good. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and therefore without errors.
Christianity is intellectual, faith is understanding and assent to what God has told us. God says in Isaiah chapter 1, "come now let us reason together." This is important because you are a product of your thinking. What is really frightening about this is that in our culture thinking is not really that important. Do you realize this? We are not so concerned about thinking as we are about two other things, emotion and pragmatism. We're concerned about feelings, and we're concerned about success. We're not so concerned about thinking. People don't ask the question, "Is it true, is it right" They ask the question, "Does it work and how will it make me feel." Emotion and pragmatism. This is tragic, especially because it has taken over the Christian Church.
Even in theology, it's sad to say, the issue is not always is it right or true, but will it offend or upset someone. We worry about how the truth will make people feel. In Acts 17:11 the Bereans were noble because they searched the Scriptures, not to see if these things felt good, or to see if these things worked, or even to see if these things would offend, but to see if these things were "so," to see if they were right and true. Some folks have said to me,"If I believe that Yeshua came back in a A.D. 70 it might effect some areas of my life. Such as; will a mission board take me, will I be accepted at certain colleges, could I work in an AWANA program?" Listen, please listen to me carefully. Those are the wrong questions! The first, the foremost, the only important question that we need to ask is: IS IT TRUE? If it's true we'll have to live with the consequences that the Lord gives us, but the issue here is truth, is it true?
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. Proverbs 23:23 ESV
When I first came to see as truth the fact that the Lord had come in AD 70 and all prophecy had been fulfilled my first objection was, "This means we are living in the New Heaven and the New Earth!" My response to that was "Yea right! If this is the New Heaven and Earth we got ripped off." Why did I feel that way? It was because I was looking for a physical fulfillment of 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21-22. I thought that those passages were speaking of physical truths, I now know differently, I didn't understand apocalyptic language. The thing that changed my mind was seeing how the Hebrew Tanakh used the concept of heaven and earth. Let's look at how the Bible uses the concept of heaven and earth, I think you'll see that it is not always used physically.
Let's start by reading 2 Peter 3.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:10-13 ESV
Most Christians would say that this is the end of the world as we know it, the destruction of the physical heavens and earth that is to happen in our future. But if heaven and earth have not yet passed away, shouldn't we be obeying the Mosaic Law?
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 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 5:17-18 ESV
This would mean that all 613 commandments in the Torah must be followed until some cataclysmic events take place. It means we should be; sacrificing lambs on the alter, celebrating the three Pilgrim Feasts in Jerusalem, not eating shell fish, worshiping on Saturday, not wearing clothes that are a mixture of linen and cotton. I think you get the point. If heaven and earth have not passed away we are still under the Law of Moses. But most believers today would say that it obviously has not passed away because the earth has not been burnt up, the elements have not melted.
Modern Christians come up with an end of the solar system scenario because we are so unfamiliar with the first three-fourths of the Bible, we take this language literally. All the language that Yeshua and the writers of the New Testament use comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, unfortunately known as the Old Testament. The Mosaic Covenant is OLD, meaning replaced by the NEW. But the first three quarters of our Bible are not OLD; meaning: "replaced and irrelevant" and, therefore, should be called OLD. Everything taught in the New Testament comes from the Jewish Tanakh. Paul said:
To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: Acts 26:22 ESV
Notice carefully what Paul is saying here. He said that He was, "saying nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said would come to pass." Paul is saying everything I am preaching comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, so if you want to understand Paul or any New Testament writer, you MUST understand the Hebrew Scriptures—the first three quarters of our Bible.
If you are not familiar with the apocalyptic language of the Scriptures, you will not understand what Peter is saying here. If you approach the New Testament's apocalyptic language without recognizing it for what it is, and do not know how to deal with its tone, images, and symbols, you are sure to go astray. Notice the use of apocalyptic language in:
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. Psalms 114:1-4 ESV
Did the mountains literally skip? No! This is apocalyptic language. In apocalyptic language, great commotions and judgments upon earth are often represented by commotions and changes in the heavens. This language is not to be taken literally.
So let's go to the Hebrew Scriptures and see how heaven and earth, sun, moon, and stars are used other than in a literal way. Where do we start? How about Genesis?
Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, "Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." Genesis 37:9 ESV
Is Joseph's dream about the literal sun and moon and stars bowing to him? How would the sun bow? This may confuse us, but Joseph's father knew exactly what he was saying:
But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?" Genesis 37:10 ESV
Jacob, Joseph's father, interprets this dream as referring to himself, his wife, and their sons, who were the heads of the twelve tribes identified as the sun, moon, and stars, respectively. They represented the foundation of the whole Jewish nation. When the biblical writers, therefore, spoke of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light, and the stars falling from heaven, they were not referring to the end of the solar system, but of the complete dissolution of the Jewish state. We see this in Leviticus 26. Yahweh talking to Israel says:
I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. Leviticus 26:17-19 ESV
Notice how the character of Israel's disposition in God's view is personalized, "YOUR heaven" and "YOUR earth." So the terms "heaven" and "earth" belong or relate to Israel, they evidently constitute a "heaven" and "earth."
One of the major areas of difficulty in understanding correctly "heaven and earth" in the New Testament is the misunderstanding of how God referred to nations by this phrase in the Tanakh. Seeing the biblical concept of "heaven and earth" in the Tanakh will help us greatly in correctly understanding its use in New Testament passages. Rather than to assume that each time we encounter the phrase, we are to immediately think of this physical universe and its elements.
Apocalyptic language is common among the Hebrew prophets. This idea is seen clearly as we look at passages where mention is made of the destruction of a state and government using language which seems to set forth the end of the world:
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: "Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. Isaiah 1:1-2 ESV
Who is God speaking to here, the physical creation? No, He is speaking to Israel. I think we can see this idea clearly if we look at Isaiah 51:
I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, 'You are my people.'" Isaiah 51:15-16 ESV
The time of planting the heavens and laying the foundation of the earth that is referred to here, was performed by God when He stirred up the sea (ver. 15) and gave the law (ver. 16), and said to Zion, Thou art my people; that is, when He took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a covenant nation. He planted the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth: that is, brought forth order, and government.
This idea is seen more clearly as we look at other passages where mention is made of the destruction of a state and government using language which seems to set forth the end of the world, as the collapse of heaven and earth.
The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. On a bare hill raise a signal; cry aloud to them; wave the hand for them to enter the gates of the nobles. Isaiah 13:1-2 ESV
In this chapter Yahweh is talking about the judgement that is to fall upon Babylon. The word "oracle" is the Hebrew word massa': an utterance, chiefly a doom. This introduction sets the stage for the subject matter in this chapter and if we forget this, our interpretations of Isaiah 13 can go just about anywhere our imagination wants to go. This is not an oracle against the universe or world, but against the nation of Babylon.
Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Isaiah 13:6 ESV
Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. Isaiah 13:9-13 ESV
Now remember He is speaking about the destruction of Babylon, but is sounds like world wide destruction. The terminology of a context cannot be expanded beyond the scope of the subject under discussion. The spectrum of language surely cannot go outside the land of Babylon. If you were a Babylonian and Babylon was destroyed would it seem like the world was destroyed? Yes! Your world would be destroyed.
Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. Isaiah 13:17 ESV
This is a historical event that took place in 539 BC. When the Medes destroyed Babylon the Babylonian world came to an end. This destruction is said in verse 6 to be from the Almighty, and the Medes constitute the means that God uses to accomplish this task. The physical heaven and earth were still in tact, but for Babylon they had collapsed. This is apocalyptic language. This is the way the Bible discusses the fall of a nation. This is obviously figurative language.
In Isaiah 24-27 we see the invasion of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar. He carries them away to captivity. Notice the language that he uses.
The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. Isaiah 24:3-6 ESV
The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again. Isaiah 24:19-20 ESV
What I want you to see in these verses is how Yahweh refers to Israel as the earth. He says the earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. ..the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again (Verses 1,3,4,19,20) Notice how many times God referred to Israel as the "earth." This is apocalyptic language speaking of the destruction of the people of Israel.
In Isaiah 34 we have a description of the fall of Edom, notice the language that is used:
Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted to destruction. Isaiah 34:3-5 ESV
This is Biblical language to describe the fall of a nation. It should be clear that it is not to be taken literally. Let's look at one other use of this language in the Tanakh:
An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh. The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Nahum 1:1-5 ESV
The subject of this judgement is Nineveh, not the physical world. This is the way God describes the fall of a nation. If this language describes the judgement of God on nations, why, when we come to the New Testament, do we make it be the destruction of the universe? It is only because we do not understand how the Bible uses this apocalyptic language.
So I hope that you can see that the Bible does not always mean "the physical universe" when it speaks of heaven and earth together. This same thing is true in Jewish literature, they saw the Temple as a portal connecting heaven and earth. They called it the "navel of the earth" and the "gateway to heaven" (Jub 8:19; 1 Enoch 26:1). Just like the Mesopotamian Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, the Temple connected God's realm to where humans lived.
To reflect this belief, the Jerusalem Temple had been built to look like a microcosm of the universe. We see this in the Temple hymn:
He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever. Psalms 78:69 ESV
The actual holy place and most holy place inside the Temple building were constructed like earth and heaven. The courts outside represented the sea.
According to Josephus, two parts of the tabernacle were "approachable and open to all" but one was not. He explains that in so doing Moses "signifies the earth and the sea, since these two are accessible to all; but the third portion he reserved for God alone because heaven is inaccessible to men" (Ant. 3:181, cf. 3:123). The veil between the accessible and inaccessible parts of the Temple was designed to represent the entire material world during Yeshua's day. Josephus and Philo agree that the veil was composed of four materials representing the four elements—earth, water, air, and fire (War 5:212-213; Ant. 3:138-144; Quaestiones in Exodum 2:85, cf. Mos 2:88). Heaven was beyond this material world. It was behind the curtain.
Outside the Temple's microcosm of "heaven and earth," the courts looked like the sea. Numbers Rabbah 13:19 records, "The court surrounds the Temple just as the sea surrounds the world." In Talmudic tradition, Rabbis described how the inner walls of the Temple looked like waves of the sea (b. Sukk. 51b, b.B.Bat. 4a). From heaven and earth inside the Temple, you looked out at the sea surrounding the world. Why? Ancients believed the earth had one giant land mass surrounded by sea. The Temple reflected that cosmology. The accessible section of the Temple and the surrounding courts embodied both the land mass and sea believed to comprise the earth. The Most Holy Place was heaven where God's presence resided. So the Temple complex was viewed as heaven and earth.
With this understanding of how "heaven and earth" is used in the Tanakh and by the Jews let's look at 2 Peter 3. This was by far the text that I struggled with the most. I could not understand how we were in the New Heavens and the New Earth. As you read different commentaries you will read things like, "This is by far the strongest passage to prove the consummation of time, the termination of the earth as we know it."
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 2 Peter 3:1-2 ESV
Peter is reminding his readers of what has already been said. The New Testament does not contain brand new prophecies that just dropped out of the sky containing new information. 2 Peter 3 is just a reiteration of what has already been written by the prophets that spoke before. Peter gives us a key to interpretation. That key is that what he is saying has been written by the Old Covenant prophets. Keep that in mind.
knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 2 Peter 3:3-4 ESV
Peter said that these scoffers would come in the last days, when are the last days?
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV
The "last days" refers to the last days of the house of Israel, the last days of the Old Covenant. The last days are the period from A.D.30 A.D.70. Isn't it interesting that during that time the scoffers were already asking, "Where is the promise of His coming?" If they were questioning His coming then, about 35 years after His death, what would they be saying today, two thousand years later? They knew that His coming was to be soon.
Now some use the argument from verses 5-7 that the world was destroyed in Noah's day and the world will be destroyed again. Let's consider that argument:
For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 2 Peter 3:5-7 ESV
Peter says that the world consisted of heaven and earth, and that they were destroyed by water and perished. We know that the substance of neither heaven or earth was destroyed, but it was the evil men that were destroyed. Peter makes a distinction between the heaven and earth of Noah's day, which were destroyed, and the heaven and earth that existed then, which were to be destroyed by fire. The literal visible fabric of heaven and earth were the same after the flood as they were before the flood. Let's remember what we saw in the Tanakh as to the apocalyptic use of heaven and earth. The destruction of heaven and earth refers to the civil and religious state, and the men of them. What was it that really perished in the flood? Look at verse 6:
and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 2 Peter 3:6 ESV
It was the world that perished, right? Now what does the word "world" mean? It is the orderly arrangement of society, it wasn't the dirt. Now how do you go from an ungodly society that was destroyed to the destruction of the entire universe? The literal earth was not destroyed. What is to be destroyed is the ungodly nation of Israel. Nowhere do the Scriptures teach that the physical creation will be destroyed. Notice what God said after the flood of Noah's day.
And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. Genesis 8:21 ESV
Now, folks will say that the Lord destroyed the earth by water one time and He'll destroy it by fire the next time. Is God's promise here to just change His method of destroying everything. Is there comfort in being destroyed by fire instead of water? Or is He promising not to destroy the earth again?
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. Psalms 148:4-6 ESV
What decree did God make concerning the establishment of the heaven and the earth that will never pass away? Genesis 8:21! Yahweh said that He would never again destroy every living thing. God can be trusted, He keeps his word.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV
These verses are simply saying that God keeps his promises.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:10 ESV
What is "the day of the Lord?" It is a time of judgement on Israel, it is the end of the Old Covenant age. We have a parallel passage in:
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:42-44 ESV
Peter is talking about Yeshua's second coming at the end of the Jewish age. When the Lord comes, the heaven and earth of the Old Covenant age will pass away.
The words, "heavenly bodies" here is from the Greek word stoicheion and in most translations it is translated as "elements". Some see this as referring to the scientific idea of the elements of matter, all the atoms of the universe burning up. But is this what the word elements means? The Greek word stoicheion it is only used seven times in the New Testament and looking at its usage we see it has two main meanings; stoicheion is used as "elements of religious training, or the ceremonial precepts that are common to the worship of Jews."
In Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the literal meaning of the word is "element, rudiment, principle." In other words, this is the elements of religious training, or the ceremonial precepts that are common to the worship of Jews and of Gentiles.
But stoicheion is also understood by many scholars to refer to "heavenly spirits." Which is why it is translated "heavenly bodies" in the ESV. Obviously, this "stoicheion" is not about atoms or destruction of the universe.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13 ESV
What is being dissolved? The Old Covenant system is being dissolved not the universe. Where do we have a promise about a new heaven and earth? Peter was surly thinking of the book of Isaiah, chapters 65 and 66.
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. Isaiah 65:17 ESV
If you read Isaiah 65 and 66 you will notice that before God creates the new heavens and a new earth, He will pour out His wrath against Jerusalem, His rebellious people (Isa. 65:1-7, 11-17; 66:3-6, 15-18, 24). When God created the new heavens and earth, notice that physical death will remain (Isa. 65:20, 66:24), home construction and agriculture will continue (Isa. 65:21-22), we will have descendants (Isa. 65:23, 66:22), the Lord will hear their prayers (Isa. 65:24), there will be evangelism (Isa. 66:19). The new heavens and earth therefore must be referring to a period in human history. This is the period of the Kingdom of God which Christ rules in the hearts of the believers.
The Kingdom of God is made without hands (spiritual - Dan. 2:34, 44-45; c.f. Col. 2:10-11). If we take the statements from the scriptures at face value, then we should conclude that the first heavens and the first earth passed away and was replaced by the glorious reign of the Lord Yeshua Christ, the kingdom without end.
If 2 Peter 3 is based upon the Old Covenant prophets, and it is, and if 2 Peter 3 has not been fulfilled then we are still under the Old Covenant law. That is quite simple. Do you believe that we are in the New Covenant? If we are then the Old Covenant must have passed away. And if the Old Covenant has passed then 2 Peter 3 has been fulfilled.
Futurists teach that the New heaven and earth of Revelation 21 and the New Jerusalem of Revelation 22 is the saved of all ages, the bride of Christ at the end of the millennium, when all things have ended and we have embarked into eternity: They have entered eternity; sin, death, hades and Satan have all been cast into the lake of fire. Remember that all evil has been disposed of, God has healed the Church of her ills, sin has been finally purged from her so that only a grandiose description of her can truly tell of her beauty. The futurists teach that the earth will be a physical paradise at this time, but is that what the Scriptures say?
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:1-2 ESV
When we look at this verse, a question immediately comes to mind: why would the nations need healing? If one adopts the futurist view, then one is at pains to explain this tree. If however, one adopts the preterist view, the explanation is quite easy. Does the New Covenant gospel age end, or is it truly an everlasting covenant as Hebrews 13:20 says:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Yeshua, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, Hebrews 13:20 ESV
Although Christ's return vindicated the witness of the first-century church, God didn't mean for the rest of history to be anticlimactic. His plan for us is an ever-deepening experience of Christ's presence, and an unfolding realization of his sovereignty over all things.
God called Israel to be a light to the nations, to lead all people into a covenant relationship with the Father. His purpose for his church, the "Israel of God," is the same. We are to be calling the world to drink of the living water of the gospel. Let's be faithful to our calling.
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17 ESV