Today we are going to do another installment of our Matthew 24 series. In our study of the Olivet Discourse, we come to verse 35 where Yeshua tells His disciples that "Heaven and earth will pass away."
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:34-35 ESV
Peter talked about this same idea.
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! 2 Peter 3:10-12 ESV
So, both Yeshua and Peter talk about heaven and earth passing away. What did they mean by this? Were they talking about a time to come when the earth would be destroyed by fire? A time when the whole earth would explode and life as we now know it would end? On the surface, it looks like that. And that is how most believers take these passages.
Think about what we have seen thus far in Matthew 24. Yeshua taught that the destruction of Jerusalem would be a time of unprecedented tribulation and a sign of His return:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Matthew 24:21-22 ESV
But before this great never-to-be-surpassed holocaust occurred, Christians prayed for their Lord to return:
If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 1 Corinthians 16:22 ESV
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Yeshua! Revelation 22:20 ESV
According to the way his coming is commonly understood today, this would mean that they would be praying for an instantaneous fiery destruction of the "whole earth." That not only would far surpass the destruction of Jerusalem, it would wipe out "all flesh" on the earth.
The futurists today can't escape this ridiculous dilemma. In their view of the end, those first-century saints would be waiting for the fall-of-Jerusalem holocaust, being assured by Yeshua that all flesh would not perish, while at the SAME TIME they would be waiting, watching, and praying for Christ to come in a destruction that wipes out EVERYBODY. No flesh would be spared. The one destruction would vindicate gospel faith, the other one would extinguish it from the earth. I doubt if the latter was that which the prophets had in mind when they spoke of a coming age, an everlasting age, wherein "all families of the earth" would be blessed.
The Bible is not a history of the earth from its creation to its ultimate destruction. The Bible is about spiritual truths made known through physical things. Genesis introduces spiritual death. Revelation tells how death is conquered. The theme of the Bible is the redemption of man, not the history of the earth. Please keep that in mind.
When I first came to see as truth the fact that the Lord had come in A.D. 70 and all prophecy had been fulfilled, my first objection was concerned the new heaven and the new earth! My response to that was 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. I thought that those passages were speaking of physical events. I thought that because I was thinking like a twenty-first century American and not like a first-century Jew. I didn't understand apocalyptic language. But Yeshua's disciples and those living in the first century were very familiar with apocalyptic language.
Remember what Yeshua had been talking about in Matthew 24. He was telling his disciples of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. That Old Covenant nation was going to pass away in their generation. This whole chapter is an answer to their question about when the temple was to be destroyed and when the Jewish age would end.
John Brown (1853) wrote:
'Heaven and earth passing,' understood literally, is the dissolution of the present system of the universe, and the period when that is to take place, is called the 'end of the world.' But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens (vol. 1, p. 170).
It appears, then, that Scripture being the best interpreter of Scripture, we have in the Old Testament a key to the interpretation of the prophecies in the New. The same symbolism is found in both, and the imagery of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets helps us to understand the imagery of St. Matthew, St. Peter, and St. John. As the dissolution of the material world is not necessary to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, neither is it necessary to the accomplishment of the predictions of the New Testament. ol. i. p.200).
One of the fundamentals of hermeneutics is to ask, "What did the passage mean to the recipients of the message?" Modern prophetic interpreters would tell you that these passages meant little or nothing to the hearers because the text dealt with matters that would take place 2,000 years later. That is, God really intended these prophecies for us and not for the people to whom they were spoken or written.
But is this what the Bible teaches? What does God reveal about the timing of these events? We saw in our last study of Matthew 24, in verse 34, that Christ states specifically,
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 ESV
"This generation" refers to the time period to which Yeshua was speaking. The Bible is clear that Yeshua was warning His generation of impending judgment.
If you take "heaven and earth" as the literal heavens and earth, as most Christians do today, and believe that Yeshua was talking about the destruction of the earth as we know it, it causes a problem with what Yeshua said earlier in Matthew:
"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
The use of the terms "the law" and "the prophets" indicates that what the Lord is speaking of in these verses is the whole of the Tanakh. If you trace these terms through your Bible, you will find that wherever this expression is used it includes the entire Tanakh.
The word "iota" in form was like an apostrophe. Presuming that Yeshua originally made the statement in Hebrew, iota would stand for י (yod), the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
The "dot" is the little projecting part at the foot of a letter, the little line at each side of the foot of, for example, the letter "t." The message is clear. Not even the smallest part of the law will be abolished until heaven and earth passes away.
The phrase "until heaven and earth pass away" refers to the duration of the whole Tanakh’s authority. So, Yeshua is saying that not a single item of the Law—the Tanakh— will ever be changed until heaven and earth pass away. Is that what Yeshua said? Please notice that the word "until" occurs twice. And it is the first "until" that most people ignore. So, if "heaven and earth" have not passed away than all of the Law is still in effect, every bit of it. Do you see the problem here? As Gentiles we are not or never have been under the Law:
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. Romans 2:14 ESV
The misinterpretation of this verse has led to great misunderstanding. Many see this verse as saying that God has written on the heart of every man a basic moral code. That code is similar to the things contained in the Ten Commandments. This universal moral code consists of things like "Do not steal," "Do not cheat," "Tell the truth," "Honor your parents," "Keep your word," "Help the poor," "Do not kill," and so on. That is not what this verse is saying.
The key to understanding this verse is translation. Most of the major translations have missed it here and their mistake has led to a faulty view of innate knowledge of God.
N.T. Wright says, "The phrase 'by nature' goes with the possession of the Law, not with the doing of the Law." Those who do not have the Law by nature were the Gentiles. Paul is here distinguishing between Jews who are born with Torah and Gentiles who by nature or birth do not have the Law. Yet these Gentiles are doing the things of the Law.
The ESV’s "by nature" is from the Greek word phusis (fo-zees). That Paul uses this word to refer to the possession of the Law is clear from his use of phusis in Romans 2.
Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. Romans 2:27 ESV
The word "physically" here is phusis. This is almost identical to the point that Paul makes in verse 14. Here the "physically uncircumcised" who keep the Torah refers to Gentiles. This cannot refer to people who are "naturally" or "innately" circumcised but refers to those who don't physically have the Law. We could translate verse 14 as: "To those who do not physically have the Law, do the things of the Law."
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. Romans 2:14 ESV
Who are these Gentile Law keepers? They are Gentile Christians! Cranfield says, "This view [that they are Gentile Christians] is found in Augustine and in the earliest Latin commentary which has come down to us."
We could translate it, "For when Gentiles who by nature do not have the Law, do what the Law requires, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves." They don't have the Law, but they do the things of the Law. How is that possible? They are Christian Gentiles, they have trusted Christ, and the requirement of the Law is fulfilled in them.
Gentiles are not under the Law and never have been. But many in the Church today try to put Christians under the Law. They teach that believers are commanded to tithe. In other words, they are to give ten percent of their income to the church. I heard a radio preacher say the following: "I have doubts that a person who does not tithe is a Christian." He also said, "One who does not tithe is under the condemnation of God." If we were under the "law," he is somewhat right. I say somewhat because the Tanakh actually teaches three tithes.
If "heaven and earth" refers to the literal heaven and earth, the Law is still in effect for Jews. What is the problem with that? First of all, as we said in our last study of Matthew 24, there are no racial Jews today. Which means there can be no priesthood and without a priesthood you can’t offer sacrifices. According to the Law, if you have sinned, then you should have sacrificed an animal:
"But if you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments that the LORD has spoken to Moses, all that the LORD has commanded you by Moses, from the day that the LORD gave commandment, and onward throughout your generations, then if it was done unintentionally without the knowledge of the congregation, all the congregation shall offer one bull from the herd for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the rule, and one male goat for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the people of Israel, and they shall be forgiven, because it was a mistake, and they have brought their offering, a food offering to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD for their mistake. Numbers 15:22-25 ESV
When is the last time that an Israelite offered up a burnt offering? All sacrifices ended in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Temple. Let's say that someone wanted to keep the Jewish Law, and they had the animal for the sacrifice, where would they find a legitimate priest?
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him. They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. Numbers 3:5-7 ESV
The Levitical priests were a special class of qualified ministering priests chosen from among the tribe of Levi. If you can't find a Levitical priest, then you cannot keep the law.
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? Hebrews 7:11 ESV
The parenthetical statement, "for under it the people received the law," is a reminder of the close interdependence between the priestly and the legal systems. "Under it"—is literally "on the basis of it." The law and the priesthood belonged together for the simple reason that, since the law, representing the divinely ordered standard of conduct and character was universally broken (Romans 3:9-23), there was a continuous necessity for the ministry of reconciliation, which the Levitical priesthood provided, even though imperfectly.
The writer is saying that the Mosaic Law was given in order to validate the Levitical priesthood. If the Levitical priesthood is taken out of the Mosaic Law, nothing of meaning is left. Why? Because the whole purpose of having a religious system is to bring people into a personal relationship with the living God. If there are no priests to represent the people, then there is no reason to have a religious system.
It is very important that we understand what the writer is communicating in this verse. The concept is that the Levitical priesthood and the Mosaic Law are inseparable. If someone wanted to incorporate the Mosaic Law into their religious system today, they would also have to incorporate the Levitical priesthood because it was the basis for the Mosaic Law. If there is no Levitical priesthood today, then the Law cannot be obeyed and all are sinners if heaven and earth have not passed away.
If we take "heaven and earth" in a literal sense, then the Law would still have to be in effect. But it is not. Either Yeshua was wrong or "heaven and earth" is not to be taken in a literal sense.
If you are familiar with the Tanakh, you will understand that this is not literal language. If you want to know what a term means in the New Testament in relation to prophecy, you need to go back to the Tanakh to see what it meant there. If it was used a certain way in the Tanakh, wouldn't it make sense that Yeshua and the New Testament writers would use those expressions in the same way? We must get our understanding of "heaven and earth" from the Tanakh.
Then Moses spoke the words of this song until they were finished, in the ears of all the assembly of Israel: "Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. Deuteronomy 31:30-32:1 ESV
In the song of Moses God is speaking to Israel. He calls them, "O heavens," and, "O earth." He is clearly not speaking to the physical heavens and earth, but to Israel. Notice what he says to them in:
For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. Deuteronomy 32:22 ESV
God is not talking here about burning up the physical earth. God is using apocalyptic and symbolic language to warn Israel of judgment that He will bring upon them. When Israel was finally destroyed, it was as though heaven and earth were burned up.
In biblical apocalyptic language, "heavens" refers to governments and rulers and "earth" refers to the nation of people. This can be seen in the book of Isaiah.
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
Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! Isaiah 1:10 ESV
Yahweh is still talking to Israel and He calls them "Sodom and Gomorrah." The literal Sodom and Gomorrah had been destroyed for some time. Here we see "rulers" used for "heavens" in verse 2 and "people" used for "earth." It is clear that the he terms "heaven and earth" are used to speak of rulers and people of a nation.
and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the wrath of the oppressor? He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall his bread be lacking. 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 51:13-16 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 "stirs up the sea." It is a reference to the exodus (v 15). "And I have put my words in your mouth" is a reflects His giving of the Law (v 16. When Yahweh said to Zion, "You are my people," He is pointing to 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, He brought forth order and government.
If the destruction of heaven and earth were to be taken literally in all of the passages in the Tanakh, it would mean that heaven and earth were destroyed a bunch of times. This language is clearly not literal; it is figurative and apocalyptic.
Gary DeMar (1996) said, "Jesus does not change subjects when He assures the disciples that heaven and earth will pass away.' Rather, He merely affirms His prior predictions, which are recorded in Matthew 24:29-31. Verse 36 is a summary and confirmation statement of these verses. Keep in mind that the central focus of the Olivet Discourse is the desolation of the ‘house' and ‘world' of apostate Israel (23:36). The old world of Judaism, represented by the earthly temple, is taken apart stone by stone (24:2)."
James Jordan wrote the following:
Each time God brought judgment on His people during the Old Covenant, there was a sense in which an old heavens and earth was replaced with a new one: New rulers were set up, a new symbolic world model was built (Tabernacle, Temple), and so forth. The New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant with new leaders, a new priesthood, new sacraments, a new sacrifice, a new tabernacle (John 1:14), and a new temple (John 2:19; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21). In essence, a new heaven and earth.
The darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars, coupled with the shaking of the heavens (24:29), are more descriptive ways of saying that ‘heaven and earth will pass away’ (24:35). In other contexts, when stars fall, they fall to the earth, a sure sign of temporal judgment (Isaiah 14:12; Daniel 8:10; Revelation 6:13; 9:1; 12:4).
The "passing away of heaven and earth," then, is the passing away of the old covenant world of Judaism led and upheld by those who "crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8). " The Hebrew people understood this kind of language.
In Matthew 24:35, Yeshua is talking about the passing away of Israel when He speaks of heaven and earth passing away. In fact, this whole chapter is about the destruction of and passing away of the 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?
Some of you Bible students might ask: "What about Psalm 102? Does it not predict the destruction of the physical planet?" Let's look at it to see.
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you. Psalms 102:25-28 ESV
This prophecy of David does sound like it is referring to the physical earth. But as always, the New Testament gives us insight and illumination to the Tanakh. In Hebrews 1, we find the writer quoting this prophecy word for word.
And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end." Hebrews 1:10-12 ESV
The writer of Hebrews tells us that the fulfillment of these events is related to the establishment of the eternal kingdom of Christ.
But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions." Hebrews 1:8-9 ESV
The heavens and the earth (Old Covenant Israel) would perish, but Christ and his throne would remain for ever and ever. The superiority of Christ over angels is shown in that he created the world wherein they were ministering spirits.
How is the world or the heavens and earth of old going to perish? David said they shall "wax old like a garment," and then they would be "changed." Is it just a coincidence that the Bible speaks of the passing away of the old covenant using the same language?
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13 ESV
The same Greek word palaioō is translated "wear out" in Hebrews 1:11 and "becoming obsolete" in 8:13. The writer here says that the old covenant is about to pass away. Not many years later but in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Yeshua predicted the end of the Jewish age in Matthew 24 and said that it would happen in His generation. David said the heavens and earth would perish but Christ would remain. This is exactly what Christ taught in Matthew 24:35.
The Bible does not speak of "the end of time." The expression "the end time" or the "time of the end" is found in Scripture, but nowhere in the Bible can we find the expression "the end of time." The expression "the end time" or the "time of the end" speaks of the end of an age and not the end of time. Scripture does not indicate that God has any plan to destroy this created world that we enjoy.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. Revelation 20:11 ESV
The word "presence" is used in Scripture to denote the arrival or full presence of a person. The old covenant age fled from the face of Christ at His parousia. He came in judgment on Israel.
What was to happen when heaven and earth passed away? In our text in Matthew 24:35, Yeshua doesn't tell us. But Peter does.
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13 ESV
"According to His promise"—where do you find the promise of a new heaven and new earth?
"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
This prophecy had to be fulfilled before the law could pass away. Until God created a new heaven and earth, the old covenant remained in tack, Every bit of it. A couple verses earlier in this text, Yahweh says to Israel:
You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse, and the Lord GOD will put you to death, but his servants he will call by another name, Isaiah 65:15 ESV
Isaiah said that in order to inaugurate the New Heaven and Earth, God was going to slay his old people. If the Church is currently the people of God who are waiting for the new heaven and earth, who is God going to have to slay to bring in that new Heaven and Earth?
Peter doesn't tell us much about this new Heaven and earth except that it is a place where righteousness dwells, just as it does in the New Covenant.
For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:9 ESV
If you want to know more about the new heaven and earth, you have to look to John in the book of Revelation.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Revelation 21:1 ESV
Here we see what happens after the old heaven and earth are destroyed. We see the new Heaven and earth.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2 ESV
Who is this bride and what is this holy city? Verse 9 tells us who the bride is.
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." Revelation 21:9 ESV
The bride is the Lamb's wife. We know from Ephesians 5, that the bride is the church. The bride of Christ is the totality of God's elect.
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, Revelation 21:10 ESV
"Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." He "Showed me the holy city Jerusalem." The wife of the Lamb is the new Jerusalem, the church. The old Jerusalem was physical Israel and the new Jerusalem is the bride of Christ. The old city was destroyed, but the new city that took its place is that city which is the bride of Yeshua the Christ.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. Revelation 21:22 ESV
There is no temple in this city. Why? The temple represented the presence of God. In the New Jerusalem, we are in the presence of God, and we need no temple.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:3 ESV
This age in which we now live is the new covenant age. We are the New Jerusalem, God's holy bride.
By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, Revelation 21:24 ESV
The saved of the nations walk in the light of this holy city. We are the light of the world today, a city set on a hill.
and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. Revelation 21:25-26 ESV
What does that mean? Look at Isaiah 60:11:
Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. Isaiah 60:11 ESV
Here we see the reason that these gates are never shut. It is so that men may bring into it the wealth of the Gentiles and their kings in procession. This is a reference to the power of the gospel. The next verse tells us that only the elect may enter into it.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 21:27 ESV
Salvation is always available; the gates are always open to this city. Look at chapter 22.
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
Here the river of the water of life flows forth from the temple to the nations of the world. The tree of life is there for the healing of the nations. The river of the water of life was predicted in Ezekiel 47. In Ezekiel, the water flows out from the temple. What is the temple? We are the temple. We are the dwelling place of God.
This river comes forth from the New Jerusalem, the church, the bride of Christ (Revelation 22:1-2). We are to be involved in taking the water of life to the nations. What is the water of life?
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
This is a call to salvation! If the new heavens and the new earth are supposed to be the eternal state, why is the invitation to salvation still going out? And why are there still evil men?
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Revelation 22:14-15 ESV
The new heaven and earth comprise the New Covenant, the church. And from the church goes forth the water of life for the healing of the nations.
We are now living in the new heaven and earth. We are the new Jerusalem, the bride of Christ. Yeshua the Christ, His Father, and His Spirit are among us. Therefore, we need no temple, and we need none of the rituals and ceremonies of the old heaven and the old earth. We are in God's presence now and forevermore.
C.H. Spurgeon (1865) said:
"Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, or any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under the new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it." (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. xxxvii, p. 354).
The old heavens and earth of Judaism have passed away, and we now live in the new heavens and new earth of the new covenant. May God help us to fully understand and appreciate our position in the new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells and where God dwells with His people.