It is unfortunate that modern Bible students are not more familiar with Biblical terminology. The term "heaven and earth" is an example where careful study will reveal weaknesses in traditional interpretations.
In Isaiah 51:15-16 Jehovah, speaking to Israel, said he gave them the Mosaic Covenant, "that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, You are my people." (The New International Version incorrectly translates this verse. Check out almost any other translation.)
Jehovah said he gave Israel his law to establish "heaven and earth." This cannot be the physical "heaven and earth;" that was in existence long before God gave the law to Israel. God was saying that he gave His law to Israel to establish their "world."
Is it difficult to see then that when Jesus said "until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law, until all be fulfilled" that what he was saying was that Israel’s world had to pass away? He was not speaking about physical heaven and earth passing.
In Matthew 24 Jesus predicted the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the very center of the Jewish world. Referring to the passing of that system, and in direct contrast to his world that was to be established, Jesus said "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away," Matthew 24:35. You see, one world was to pass, the Old World of Law; and a New World was to be created, the World of Messiah. It will never pass away.
Hebrews 12:25ff spoke of the passing of the "heaven and earth" so that the unshakable kingdom might remain. It says they were at that time "receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken," vs. 28. Since the heaven and earth were to be shaken/removed so that the unshakable could remain, and since they were at that time receiving the unshakable kingdom, it follows that the "heavens and earth" was being removed at that time. Again, not physical heaven and earth, but the Old World of Israel, created and sustained by the Law was about to be completely destroyed when Jerusalem and the Temple fell in 70 AD.
Other passages in the New Testament speak of the "heavens and earth" in the same manner with no reference to the physical heaven and earth, II Peter 3, Revelation 21, etc. It is time for Bible students to begin to give proper recognition to the way the Bible uses terminology.
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