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Passing away of heaven and earth. Pt.2

In the previous post we started talking about our passages in Rev. 20:11. and Rev. 21:1 if they refers to the same event. We saw that they had some indirect similarities in semantics and image. We translated the words [pheugo] and [apelthan], each of which means; Pheugo = “run away”, “retreat” or “escape”. in the sense of getting away from an imminent threat. And apelthan = “pass” (at the moment), “going out” or “leave” (from one place to another place or on the road), or to pass away for good for then never to return.

We was also looking at the understanding of things are “lost” (Revelation 21:1) and ended by asking what is the purpose of using the various terms ([pheugo] and [apelthan]) in the associated with “Heaven and Earth “. I will start with the first word, [pheugo], in this post and wait with the other word, apelthan, for the next blog post.

Let us look at Rev. 20:11 and the purpose of using the word [pheugo] – fled, in this vers. 

The Purpose – Identitying the Creator and the Judge of the creation. 


In Revelation 20:11is the purpose of the word “fled” just to emphasize the nature and identity of the one who sits on the throne in the same vision. Why? Yes, the verse says:

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them “(Rev. 20:11. ESV).

I’m not so pleased with the ESV translation at this verse. This is because there should not be any periods here. It is not intended to be two sentences. Of the other translations, I think KJV or Young’s Literal is better: «And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.»

This is more correct, and the importance of this is that the phrase “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled “away”, acts as a modifier of the subject, and not a real description of a separate event. Are you in? The aim is more to tell us something about the person who sits on the throne, and not the earth and heaven itself.

So what does this tell us specifically when? It tells us that there is not a regular person who sits on a ordinary throne, but that this is the person for whom heaven and earth is totally submissive and in awe of – God the Creator.

“Yes, I know very well who the person on that throne is”, you might say, but let’s see why it focused on the person on the throne, and here we find two things:

1. It is necessary to have such a distinction in respect to Revelation itself. For if we read the book of Revelation, the word “throne” popping up 47 times alone. The word throne refers to Jesus’ throne (1:4), Satan’s throne (2:13), thrones for the faithful believers (3:21, 20:4), the twenty-four thrones of the heavenly elders (4:4), the throne of dragon who was given to the beast (13:2, 16:10) and a throne inside the temple (16:17). In short, there are many thrones mentioned in Revelation, and then, when we come to Revelation. 20:11, we would quickly become confused if it was no distinctive from the other thrones, and the question of who sitting on that throne would emerge. What if it just said. “One sitting on the throne”, I think it would be more confusing. But we have designations of who sits on that throne.

If we look closer, the nearest mentioning of a throne is only a few verses earlier, and it refers to the various residents, which actually makes this even more important. We read: «And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and it was given to them to execute judgment» (Rev. 20:4). Enthroned saints

This describes the faithful martyr-saints, who reign with Christ in heaven during “a thousand year,” and since the following description of a throne is to describe another Ruler, leader of the ruling enthroned saints, it requires a significant difference. This is why you already know who sits where, because this verse tells us that this is the person for whom heaven and earth is totally submissive and in awe of – God the Creator.

2. The particular difference is given in Revelation 20:11, who gives us an appropriate characteristic of him that sitteth on the throne. The great white throne is occupied by one who from his face ALL fallen creation has no place for him, and thus flees away. This is an expression for the total sovereignty, majesty, power and strength of the One enthroned. An expression for a total emptiness that the creation itself is in relation to Him.

But more importantly, it tells us about the important relationship between God and creation. It is not only any great and mighty enthroned, but one and only one for whom creation is in total awe of: It is the Creator Himself. There is no part of heaven or earth that can stand before Him with no requirement for the adequacy or sovereignty – that way they have no place for him.

In other words, this sentence in this section identifies and proclaims the One throne inmates as “God of Genesis 1:1” (creation).

You may have seen it before, but make note of the relationship to this image that runs throughout the Scripture. The exact same ideas that creation is subservient to the Creator, is expressed in Psalm 104, which celebrates God’s glory and majesty that creates, and simultaneously as the One in whose words, the earthly elements flee:

1. Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2. Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. 3. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; 4. He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers. 5. He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever. 6. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains. 7. At Your rebuke they fled, At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. 8. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which You established for them. 9. You set a boundary that they may not pass over, So that they will not return to cover the earth. (Psa. 104: 1-9). 

“Fled” in verse 7 is pheuxontai (from pheugo) in the Greek Septuagint. This is the same root word as we find in Revelation 20:11.

Exact the same language is used in Psalm 114, to express the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River during the deliverance of Israel:

1. When Israel went forth from Egypt, The house of Jacob from a people of strange language, 2. Judah became His sanctuary, Israel, His dominion. 3. The sea looked and fled; The Jordan turned back. 4. The mountains skipped like rams, The hills, like lambs. 5. What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? 6. O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? 7. Tremble, O earth, before the Lord, Before the God of Jacob, 8. Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of water. 

The purpose of this rule-form of creation, language or the image – “ruler of creation” – are not written there to signify the nature of the event that takes place in the context alone, but rather to express the majesty and the power of God that brought these things to escape.

That’s how we should understand the references to a fleeing heaven and earth in Revelation 20:11: – it serves the primary and perhaps even the exclusive purpose of identifying Him as the One enthroned, the wonderful Creator, God Himself. This is the same God that governs all creation Who of creation itself is powerless, and in which holy and powerful presence, no part of creation and no man can stand without mercy from Him.

This is certainly not the case with the other reference in Revelation 21:1. The purpose of the second word [apelthan] “passed away / lost” we will dig into in the next blog post.

What do you think?

Scripture verses is from KJV and NASB. 

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