Deathisdefeated

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

This study is just scratching the surface of the subject of heavens and earth, and how they are used in the bible. But I want to approach it from a slightly different angle.

Many fine articles have been written that make  the case that “heavens and earth”, as used in the bible, are NOT primarily talking about a physical creation. That has been well established. I also don’t want to rehash the discussion about the duality of the symbolic meaning contained in the Genesis descriptions of the heavens and earth.

Instead, I want to focus on the intrinsic meanings of old and  new heavens as they applied to old covenant peoples, and how they apply to new covenant believers. The scriptures I will refer to are:

Hebrews 1:10-12

Isaiah 34:4

Isaiah 54:10

Rev. 6:14

Matt.27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-41

Let’s start by quoting directly the verses in Hebrews 1

10And,“YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH,
AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;

11THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN;
AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT,

12AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP;
LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED.
BUT YOU ARE THE SAME,
AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.”

Now, let’s dismantle these verses to clear up what the symbols mean.

Who is the “they” of verse 11 speaking of? Clearly, “THEY” are the foundation of the earth, and the heavens, that are the works of the Lord’s hands talked about immediately before in verse 10.

The writer then goes on in verse 12 and “likens” these earth and heaven symbols to a “mantle” that will be rolled up. They are also likened to garments that will be changed.

And, following on the heels of this “rolling up” and “folding” is a qualifying statement saying “BUT you are the same and your years will not come to an end” This clearly refers to Jesus Himself.

This is  a comparison and contrast, wherein the things that are created by our Lord have a definite beginning and a definite end, BUT,  there is no beginning or end to the Lord who made them.

I want to focus on the symbolism of the mantle, garment, and the rolling up process that accompanies them.

Rev. 6:14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Was (or ‘is to be’ as some believe)  this a PHYSICAL event? If so, then how does that event square with the parallel verses in Isaiah?

Isaiah 34:4 All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.


Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

If the prophecies  in Isaiah 34 and 54 are talking about physical things happening in the stars, heavens, and sky, then why is God’s love linked to it? In other words, why would anyone rationally link the moving of the hills, the sky, the stars, etc., with God’s “covenant of peace” and his love for us? Scripture clearly links the TEMPORAL  nature of the heavens and earth with His ETERNAL covenant of peace and love. It is important for us to understand this contrast between that which is “shakeable” and that which is “eternal”

Literalizing these symbols, making them physical symbols, damages their intent, and actually CHEAPENS what is spoken of in Hebrews 1:10-12.

I maintain that Hebrews 1, Rev. 6:14, and Is. 34 and Is. 54 are all talking about the same thing, manifested in different ways.

One clear manifestation and fulfillment of this is found in the gospel account of Jesus’ resurrection. In those accounts, the writers were inspired to specifically talk about the graveclothes, and how they were folded, or rolled. That detail was not accidental. Instead, it was intended By God to show us that the passing of the law was near at hand. The garments of death (the old covenant, the law, and the death that was part of the old covenant) were LEFT IN THE TOMB, a place of death.

 I believe the rolling up  of the heavens and earth happened in partial fulfillment at the resurrection of Jesus. It was the start of His Kingdom, and His Kingdom was fully ushered in at the destruction of Jerusalem. The age to come began at the tomb, and was completed in 70AD when the final vestiges of the law were destroyed.

 I believe He demonstrated this  and left as a sign for us His graveclothes, folded up in the tomb. The graveclothes symbolized the law, and then, the new garments of righteousness were  what Jesus was then clothed with.  

But the lesson for us is that it didn’t stop there. Notice in the second half of Hebrews 1:12

LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED.

 When Jesus’ graveclothes were rolled up, they were LEFT in a place of death, a tomb. This signified the destruction of the law. It follows then that the old covenant was put to death and, as when a dirty garment is soiled, there came a change into new garments.

It seems clear then that this linkage of stars, heaven, sky, and earth, that are rolled up, are all one and the same thing. Namely, the old covenant, the law, the system of worship, the righteousness that came through the law, and even the promises contained in the law. These symbols were signified in the graveclothes.

The new covenant then is a covenant of righteousness. Just as the old covenant was worn as a garment (in that righteousness could never come by the law, but could only be put on temporarily), so too is the new covenant worn as a garment. However, the righteousness that came by the law was temporary, renewed by animal sacrifices and various washings, etc. In the new covenant, the righteousness we wear (our robes washed in the blood of the lamb) is permanent because our garments are never soiled. They are washed constantly, and that makes them pure constantly.

But I also want to point out that this covering is not itself WHO Jesus is. Jesus WEARS righteousness, but what He wears is not HIM. That is why, in the second half of verse 12, it says:

BUT YOU ARE THE SAME,
AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.”

In other words, although the old covenant has come to an end, and although the new covenant has been ushered in, despite all that, what remains and is eternal is the PERSON of Jesus Himself. It HAS to be that way, because although Jesus IS our righteousness, it is a foreign righteousness to us. It is something we have to renew constantly. It is something that we wear (because we have been clothed with new garments of righteousness), but it is not something we ARE.

That is why the writer of Hebrews makes the last half of verse 12 a contrasting clause. That is why he states “BUT YOU ARE THE SAME [Jesus]”, comparing and contrasting even the new garment that has been changed against the eternal righteousness of Jesus, who is the source of that righteousness for all time.

 

 

 

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I enjoyed reading this.

Thanks Brian. I had forgotten I wrote this. As I recall, it was something I wrote quickly, but I was "hot" in my spirit when I wrote it, so I had to write while it was fresh on my mind. The scriptures just seemed so "plain" to me. I wanted to share.

I enjoyed it too! :)

 

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