Saturday, January 31, 2015

Will Heaven Have Oceans? My Take

I wrote this in December 2009 and I edited it and added more scriptures and Commentary excerpts. I am reviving it because there was an article linked to by Tim Challies titled "Will Heaven Have Oceans?" from The Gospel Coalition. (The Gospel Coalition has been publishing very iffy authors and squishy doctrine lately and I don't recommend them unreservedly, if at all.)

The Gospel Coalition article about Heaven and oceans is from a series which examines difficult verses in the bible. Now, I'm not a trained theologian. There are many people who have interpreted this verse in different ways, so I can't be dogmatic. But I am nearly so.

Why? One particular verse. If God "placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it" then I need to understand that if there is no sea, what does 'eternal' mean? Plus I have several other reasons I believe interpreting the text this way. See what you think. Your contributions or corrections to the discussion welcome.

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Venice FL, Lomo Camera. EPrata photo

Revelation 21:1 says-

"The New Heaven and Earth" - "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea."

This disappoints many people, including myself. I love the sea and I hope that Jesus is preparing a place for me near it. Many people can't conceive of a world without the oceans and their tides, waves, ships, and magnificent animals. Someone recently asked me about this and I agreed that it was a disappointment that the scriptures seemed to say that after the old earth passes away and the new earth is made, that the oceans will be no more. Until...

I started thinking, and remembered that the sea is a biblical symbol for heaving, undulating, rippling discontented people. Scripture interprets scripture, here is sea defined for us:

Isaiah 57:20, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud.” (NASB)

There is a support text in the bible that reinforces the notion that the wicked are like the sea:
Jude 1:11-13, “These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”

Pulpit Commentary explains the use of the word 'sea' in context to Revelation 13:1. The reference is to the beast that rises from the sea. Is the antichrist actually a beast, actually rising from the sea?
The sea, again, is the type of instability, confusion, and commotion, frequently signifying the ungovernable nations of the earth in opposition to the Church of God (cf. Revelation 17:15; Revelation 21:1)

I believe the reference to the sea in Revelation 21:1 could be a symbolic reference just as it was in the Revelation verses and Jude and in Isaiah.
Lubec Maine. EPrata photo

An alternate interpretation could be that reference to the sea as the name for the bronze laver. Here, 1 Kings 7:23 has the verse:

"Then he made the sea of cast metal. It was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference."

Also the Sea is referenced in 2 Chronicles 4:2, Jeremiah 52:17, 2 Kings 16:17.

In Revelation 21, the reference being to 'no more sea' could mean that as in Isaiah's symbolism, there are no more wicked (sea), they have all been judged and put into outer darkness. Or in 1st Kings, there is no need for a laver (sea) because there is no longer any need to sacrifice and clean up. There is no need to wash before sacrificing since Jesus washed us all, and there are no more wicked people. We are all clean by then.

I thought further. A third reason I believe there will be a sea, is this. If God created a sea and its animals on the third day and declared it "good," and also created the land and their animals and declared them good, then why would He abandon the sea at the renewal of the earth but not the land? Does that mean it is 'not-good' now? God is not inconsistent. It doesn't make sense.
Nassau Bahamas. EPrata photo

One smaller piece of reasoning, in Revelation 10:4-6, we read of the Angel standing on the sea and on the land, and He swore by the sea and by the land that there would be no more delay in rendering judgment and that the mystery of God would be fulfilled. A promise from heaven made by the Angel swearing an oath on the sea and land...is serious. I highly doubt God would allow an oath to be made with the sea as the witness and then later delete the sea.

In still more reasons, Jesus said in Matthew 19:28

I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Rev 21:5 repeats the concept 'at the renewal of all things,'

“And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." 

All things being made new means all things!

I believe that this means what He created in the 6 days, the first beginning of “all things.”

Finally, The sea's boundary is eternal.

Jeremiah 5:22--

'Do you not fear Me?' declares the LORD
'Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.
Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.

There exists a decree from the lips of the LORD who said it will stand for all eternity: that there is a sea-sand boundary over which the sea will never cross. For this decree to be in force eternally, there must always be sand and sea.

There are support texts in the bible that reinforces the notion that there is an eternal decree:

Job 38:8-11

"Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop'?

Psalm 104:9

You set a boundary that they may not pass over,
So that they will not return to cover the earth.

Proverbs 8:29

When He set for the sea its boundary
So that the water would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth;

Venice FL. Lomo camera. EPrata photo

Finally, Matthew Henry’s commentary explains thus:
“The new heaven and the new earth will not be separate from each other; the earth of the saints, their glorified, bodies, will be heavenly. The old world, with all its troubles and tumults, will have passed away. There will be no sea; this aptly represents freedom from conflicting passions, temptations, troubles, changes, and alarms; from whatever can divide or interrupt the communion of saints.”

My conclusion, based on scripture, is that when John declares, “and there was no longer any sea” that if we substitute Isaiah’s definition for sea, OR the laver being the sea, rely on the promise of the renewal of all things, and know that there is an eternal decree for a sea-sand boundary, and that Jesus swore an oath by the land and the sea, that all things means ALL things, then we can safely propose that in the New Earth, there will likely be an ocean kind of sea. Hallelujah!

11 comments :

  1. I thought our home was in the New Jerusalem, anyhow.
    Jennifer

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    1. So, wouldn't any oceans be on the new earth? Not to mention, who knows what the new jerusalem will contain. I do agree with the interpretation of seas as people.
      Jennifer

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    2. Even if there is no more sea, the river of life will be there. Regardless, it will be
      perfect.

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    3. Hi Jennifer,

      The New Jerusalem is specifically described in Revelation 21:9-26. Of course there will likely be more in it but the descriptions given of what it looks like are spectacular and detailed. And it will contain the church believers, too.

      New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and either lands ON earth or hovers just above it. The earth will have passed away in an instant and be remade all new in an instant. I believe we can understand from the scriptures I shared, that all that is on it now will be made new; (including oceans with ocean life) EXCEPT sin, death and hell. Those will have been thrown to the Lake of Fire.

      It's exciting to know that new earth will not have one tombstone, not one grave, not one dead brown leaf, not one shriveled insect--no death. Only life everlasting!

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  2. I don't know Elizabeth but the fact God has said all things will be new implies they will not be as they are now. And heaven has always meant something in terms of it's appearance and majesty that none of us are even remotely capable of envisioning in it's absolute splendor and glory. Even the attempts of Scripture to tell us what to expect are limited. God knows we are no where near understanding much less even imagining how spectacular Heaven will be so He limited His references to things we have some capability in which to compare. And He did so knowing our limitations and capabilities to even come close as to the grandeur we have in-store as Christians. Talk about chill bumps!!!

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    1. I agree Gates! Although I do envision what revelation He has given us in Rev 21. It's exciting to picture the New Jerusalem in the specific detail He revealed. It's enough for now until my glorified mind can handle the reality. As I mentioned above with Jennifer, there will be no death on the new earth, not one tombstone, no grave markers, no fossils, no skeletons in the dust. Not even a husk of a long-0dead insect. Only life everlasting.

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  3. I believe our eternal setting will be much like our own but pure from sin. My favorite verse in scripture is No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can concieve what God has for those that love him. I just want to bow down before him and hug his feet and not let go, I am not worthy to see him eye to eye.

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  4. A little word study,

    “...new heaven and a new earth...”

    “New” (Gk kainos) has the understanding of “fresh, recently made, of a new kind.” The two words (new) denote “that which is new in nature and essence, that which is superior to the old.” In the Septuagint, the term assumes theological significance in the great prophecies and visions of the future which proclaim that God will bring something entirely new to His people (Isaiah 42:9; 48:6). The Lord will establish a new covenant with His people (Jeremiah 31:31). They will receive a new spirit and a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:26).

    Thus, being “new in nature and essence,” “there was no more sea”

    “No” (Gk. ouk) has the understanding of “statement of a fact, the absolute negative.” The use of the word is the same throughout Greek literature to include the Septuagint.

    The new earth will be completely different. That is seen by the fact that there will be no more sea. The oceans are necessary for the replacing of oxygen in the atmosphere of the present earth (through multitudes of microscopic plant forms in the seas). The lack of the seas thus suggests that nature and its resources will be different.

    Mounce, speaking of the new heaven and new earth states:

    “Whether it simply passes away or is melted by fire is of minor import.”

    What we do know is that this creation will be changed with a new heaven and a new earth.

    Mario

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  5. A basic tool of Hermeneutics is the recognition that authors, especially within a single book, will use consistent symbolism. That John says that the Antichrist comes out of the sea, and clearly doesn't mean a mer-man growing legs, but a pagan Gentile arising out of a Gentile nation (iow the AC will not be Jewish), and then later says there will be no more sea, it is clear that he's referring to unbelieving peoples. That the immediate context is of the new heavens and earth, and hence, perfection, makes it even more obvious that it refers to the nonpresence of unbelievers (which would mar the perfection of eternity). I don't know of any Scriptural passages where the ocean is seen as "imperfect" except in the context of the Fall (as everything is flawed in some way), and the fact that there was an ocean before Genesis 3 shows that the literal ocean cannot be in view as an imperfect creation that won't be included in eternity.

    These parallels lead me to believe that the sea in that passage is not literal.

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  6. Admin note: edited to remove link.

    Unfortunately taking John's words "there is no longer any sea", in Revelation 21:1, to mean that there will no longer be any oceans in the new earth, is an extremely shallow reading of Scripture. People who do so simply assume that John is talking about the oceans, and then search their Bibles for any possible reason, regardless of how far fetched, God would do away with the seas. A deeper study shows that nothing could be further from the truth...

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