6/30/13 V. 21, We will build houses to live in in the new earth. We will plant vineyards and not have to leave before being able to enjoy the fruit.
V. 22, The way it often works in this sinful world now we work hard and someone else reaps the benefits because we move away, or someone takes it, or we die. But in the earth made new that won’t happen. We will build and plant and enjoy our work ourselves. Even in life now, those who obey the laws of God and the laws of health live longer. Then, of course, since we will have access to the tree of life, which will prolong our lives forever.
The last phrase says literally that God’s people will “wear out” the work of their hands. Most translations render the Hebrew word bala as “long enjoy.” That captures the intended idea well enough but wearing something out does give a slightly different impression concerning length of days. We won’t just enjoy the work of our hand for a long time, we will be there long enough to wear it out.
V. 23, Our work won’t be fruitless or useless. Neither will bear or bring forth for trouble or calamity. Most translations add the word children to this phrase, which is correct both because the way the word yalad is usually used in the Old Testament is in genealogies and because the next phrase clarifies this. So when we have children we will not need to fear for them because they will not be in danger. Our children will be blessed and our children’s children after them.
Concerning having children, in Mt 22:30 Jesus said that things will be different in heaven in that we won’t be marrying and giving in marriage, which must also affect having children. This part of the prophecy would have been fulfilled for Israel, but since God’s promises always comes to pass we can only speculate as to what he has in mind for us. Could it be that during the millennium the situation will be one way and when the earth is re-created then could God’s original plan for marriage be restored at that time? We can do nothing else but wait and see and be pleased by the fact that we cannot imagine the wonderful things God has in store for us. (See also discussion in Is 60:22).
V. 24, We often read and use this verse alone, separated from the context, and we apply it to our situation now. This probably does no violence to the spirit of the text, and yet the verse does seem to indicate that this is a promise for the future. Particularly if one translates the beginning of the verse, “And it shall come to pass…”
Translators seem to be pretty evenly split on how to begin this verse. Is it, “And it shall come to pass that before they call…” or simply “Before they call…?” The first way seems to indicate that one day in the future this will be the situation, while the second way (when used out of context) may be more easily understood to be the situation now.
Either way, God promises that his relationship to us will be so close that he will anticipate every need even before we ask. Of course he is able to do that now as well as later.
V. 25, This is an amazing picture of life in the new earth. Violence even between animals will be gone. Carnivorous creatures will return to being vegetarians.
But even while all of God’s creation is restored, the curse placed upon the serpent in Gen 3:14-15 will remain forever. This does not mean that Satan will continue to exist. That he will be destroyed is clear. However, this could be looking at the millennium in particular. In Rev 12:7-9 and 20:2-3, the serpent/dragon is bound for a thousand years. While in heaven most things will have been set to right again. But there will still be the problem with the serpent that must be dealt with after the thousand years.