For behold, I create news heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind, but be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold I create Jerusalem [ as ] a rejoicing and her people a joy.
Isaiah 65:17 & 18
When God gave this promise through the prophet Isaiah, He obviously meant that this new heavens & new earth were representative of the restoration of Israel to His good graces, so to speak! John obviously had this passage ( in greater context ) in mind when he wrote the Revelation, as it was given to him. Although Revelation 21:1-4, torn from its necessary context, that of the History of Israel, seems almost to point us to a utopian 'heaven on earth' ( ? ), upon closer examination, it is abundantly clear that the writer employed much the same construct as did Isaiah!
Now, I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:1 & 2
If you will notice, John, just as Isaiah, wrote in such a way as to reveal a greater spiritual truth, using a physical representation! In both cases, the writer/Author used a sort of parallelism to show that this new creation of which our Heavenly Father spoke was nothing other than that which the apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:17. 'Therefore, if anyone [ is ] in Christ, [ he is ] a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new', which John seems to quote from in Revelation 21:4, is speaking of that New Jerusalem, those who accepted & believed in Jesus the Christ as their Messiah!
There has been much speculation, whether biblically based or not, as to whether there is yet to be a Final Judgement, which will usher in a physical ( and utopian ) new heavens & new earth! Will our Heavenly Father, at some point in time ( future ), destroy all vestiges of wickedness from this earth? Will our living conditions return to 'Life in the Garden', where God walked with Adam & Eve in the cool of the evening? Jesus, in His Revelation to John, promised that it would be so! This promise was made to those first-century ( representative ) 'seven churches in Asia', so can we trust that this, His Dwelling with us ) is A Present Reality, or do we wait for something more ( better )?!
As a New Creation, and as the apostle Paul also wrote, 'the temple of the Holy Spirit' ( I Corinthians 6:19 ), we are, in Christ, the New Jerusalem which John witnessed ( in the first century ) coming down out of Heaven from God, we are the new heavens & new earth that the prophet Isaiah wrote about!
Since all of this is A Present Reality ( New Creation, et al. ), it is sometimes difficult for us as finite human beings, to reconcile our current conditions ( physicality ) with these promises, but we must understand that, while these promises were made to Israel, we, through the New Covenant in the Christ, have been revealed as the Israel of God!
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
These first few lines of the Song of Moses which he spoke to the children of Israel show, as well, that these new heavens & new earth promised through Isaiah and revealed in their fullness by the Revelation of Jesus the Christ were simply the maturity of The Children of God! Our Heavenly Father, through the 'change' spoken of by the apostle Paul ( I Corinthians 15:52 ), rendered both those 'elect' ( I Kings 19:18 ) from the children of Israel ( by birth ) & those from 'every nation' ( Acts 17:26 ), a new heavens and new earth!
If we will only hear the words of our Heavenly Father in the Song of Moses, and take from them a lesson, maybe we can, as the People of God, the Body of Christ & His New Heavens & New Earth, expand our borders, revealing the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father which is in us ( Luke 17:21 )! Through our efforts, may we see this vision of a 'heaven on earth', which John saw, come to fruition as it spreads throughout the earth!
Charles Haddon Shank