Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

References to a “new heaven and a new earth” are found elsewhere in the Bible, including Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, and 2 Peter 3:4-13. In Peter’s epistle, we read that the first earth “was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed” (verses 5,6) – obviously referring to the flood.  The Apostle Peter continues to explain that “the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment” (verse 7).  The Bible uses the symbol of fire to illustrate total destruction, just as fire totally consumes the burning object. This destruction is of the entire selfish, social fabric of the world’s societies. It is not the literal earth because “the earth

[itself] remains forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:4).  

The heavens are not the literal heavens with all its trillions of magnificent galaxies neither. “Heavens” is used in the scriptures to symbolize the civil, ecclesiastical and spirit powers that are ruling.  Satan is called “the ruler of the kingdom of the air”  (Ephesians 2:2). Additionally, “Our struggle is… against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”  (Ephesians 6:12).  It is the great systems and powers influenced by Satan that will be destroyed by “fire”  (great trouble).  

Back to Second Peter.  After discussing the world that was (before the flood) and the present heavens and earth, Peter declares declares, “…we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:12,13).

The new heaven and new earth are referring to Christ’s righteous reign on earth (thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth…).  Jesus secured all mankind’s redemption and resurrection when he died (1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Timothy 2:3,4). First, our Lord Jesus Christ will supervise the destruction of this present evil order. Psalm 46:2,3,6, “…the earth be removed…the mountains (kingdoms) be carried into the midst of the sea (restless, anarchistic mankind)…and the heathen raged…he uttered his voice, the earth melted.” Then Christ will establish His peaceable kingdom: “Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth.” (verses 8, 9) Isaiah 2:2-4, “…in the last days, the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted…and all nations shall flow unto it…Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD…he will teach us of his ways…” (See also Isaiah 35.) These is the new righteous heaven and earth!