We do not long for non-body, non-earth and non-culture, but for new body, New Earth, and new culture—without sin and death. This is all part of longing for the resurrection, which is at the heart and soul of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 15).
We will know then that what we always longed for was not to live away from earth, but to live on earth as God created it, as he meant it to be—an earth without sin, suffering and death, an earth with the full beauty we now only catch glimpses and foretastes of.
By calling the New Earth earth, God emphatically tells us it will be earthly. Otherwise, why call it earth? The Bible speaks of the new Heavens and the New Earth—not a non-Heavens and non-earth. “New” doesn’t mean different in essence, but a better version of the old.
If we think of Heaven as a place where disembodied spirits float around—which is never depicted in the Bible—we can’t get excited about it. It’s not a non-earth we long for—it’s a New Earth.
You know what earth is like, and therefore you know much or most of what the New Earth will be like. If you can’t imagine this earth without rivers, mountains, trees and flower, then why try to imagine the New Earth without them? You wouldn’t expect a non-earth to have those things, but God promises us a New Earth. If the word “earth” means anything, then the New Earth has what makes earth earth—including atmosphere, mountains, waters, trees, people, houses...even cities, buildings and streets. (These are specifically mentioned in Revelation 21-22).
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.