Now, the Bible plainly describes the next age as being the merger of heaven and earth, with God living with man.
“The meek shall inherit the earth.” Why would the meek want to inherit something that will be burned to a crisp? Rather, the biblical teaching is that our inheritance, our Promised Land, will be the renewed, restored, transformed earth.
The “new heavens and new earth” spoken of by Isaiah and by John in the Revelation are the heavens and earth of Gen 1 restored, with the corruption of sin and brokenness purged by fire — and improved so that it will last forever.
Hence, in the next age, we will not fly off to heaven to leave the world behind. Rather, God will come to us, to walk among us, in a renewed world in which heaven (God’s realm) and earth (man’s realm) are brought together.
Earth becomes what we call “heaven.”
(Rev 21:2-3 ESV) 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
The goal of God’s work among humanity is not to snatch us away from his Creation, but to restore us to what he always intended for us. It’s redemption, not escape. Restoration, not destruction.
And when we read the Bible this way, some good things happen. For example, the NT and OT accounts of the afterlife start to line up. It’s often been stated that the OT knows nothing of men dying and going to heaven. True. Rather, the OT speaks of a new heavens and new earth in which God restores the earth and comes to live with man — just as is taught in Rom 8 and Rev 21.
Just so, it’s often been noted the OT has no doctrine of hell. And that’s also true. It does speak of punishment and God’s destruction of the wicked, in contrast to the blessed afterlife of the saved. But there is no concept of perpetual, conscious torment of the damned in the OT.
Just so, the NT has been misread. We’ve read the Greek understanding of the afterlife into the scriptures — often by reading the passages to say exactly the opposite of what the words mean.