The Five Earths of the Bible (and the Eight Ages)
The idea of the Bible delineating “five earths” does not mean five altogether different earths as in God annihilating one earth and creating an altogether new planet from scratch. After all, the Bible shows that the earth was created to exist forever:
You placed the world on its foundation so it would never be moved.
Psalm 104:5 (ESV)
Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
While God created the earth to be established forever, there are five different versions of this earth in the Bible with eight different ages fitting into these five earth-realities. The earth and the universe it inhabits – that is, “the heavens” — were originally created by the LORD (Genesis 1:1). The subsequent four versions of the earth were transformed by God through four different ways: (1.) The Genesis Curse, (2.) the Noahic Flood, (3.) massive earthquakes plus atmospheric modifications, and (4.) universal fire. Here’s a diagram to illustrate (click to enlarge):
Let’s go over each of these five earths:
Earth 1: Creation to the Fall
The original earth – Earth 1 – was flawless and unspoiled (Genesis 1:31). This was the Age of Innocence. The Garden of Eden was about the size of California according to the specifications shown in Genesis and it was the only region on earth that was technically a paradise, which was the way God created it. However, the rest of the earth was not. The remainder of planet was untamed and uncultivated, which is why the LORD empowered humankind to subdue it and take dominion:
And God BLESSED them, and said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Genesis 1:28 (KJV)
In other words, God blessed humanity to make the planet the same paradise as that of the Garden of Eden, which is why this verse twice stresses replenishing and subduing “the earth” and not the Garden of Eden since it was already replenished and subdued.
The paradise of the Garden of Eden was God’s blueprint for humankind to expand on until the entire planet was a paradise. Once ‘Project Earth’ was complete they could go on to subdue and replenish every planet in the solar system, the galaxy, and ultimately the furthest reaches of the universe! Why do you think all those innumerable barren planets are there for? They’re there for us to reach and subdue, in love and faithfulness. This is supported by this passage:
For You (God) have put everything in subjection under his (humanity’s) feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to man, He left nothing outside [of man’s] control. But at present we do not yet see all things subjected to him [man].
Hebrews 2:8 (The Amplified Bible)
‘Everything’ can also be translated as “the universe,” which is how the Weymouth New Testament translates it. God put “everything” in the natural universe in subjection to humanity—“nothing” is outside of redeemed humanity’s control! In other words, nothing in the entire universe was to be outside of humanity’s control. We were created to explore, inhabit and rule the unfathomable reaches of the physical universe! You can read more about this in this article.
Unfortunately Adam & Eve sinned and so the LORD cursed the earth (Genesis 3:17-19). This is known as the Genesis Curse.
All living beings on the earth were herbivores before the fall of creation, including people, meaning their diet was strictly vegetarian.
Genesis 1:31 shows the Creator viewing all he had made and “it was very good.” There were no carnivores during Earth 1 because a carnivorous diet necessitates suffering and death of other living creatures and this wouldn’t be good. But Adam & Eve’s sin brought a curse on the physical universe and the sins of their descendants perpetuate it (Isaiah 24:5-6).
Earth 2: Adam to Noah
The Genesis Curse drastically changed the nature of physical creation. Rather than Humanity having power over Nature as it was supposed to be (Genesis 1:26,28), Nature now conflicted with Humanity: Growing foods from the soil became a chore, florae became toxic, animals became predatory, the planet manifested great quakes, as well as destructive volcanic activity, and there were now weather-based disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
Earth 2 corresponds to the Age of Conscience and began after Adam & Eve were banished from the paradisal Garden of Eden and God’s cursing of creation (Genesis 3:17-19). The Garden of Eden, which contained the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24), was removed and taken to the New Jerusalem in Heaven (Revelation 2:7, 22:2, 14 & 19). At the beginning of the eternal age — Earth 5 — the New Jerusalem will “come down out of heaven from God” to rest on the new earth (Revelation 3:12 & 21:2). We’ll look at the New Jerusalem further when we get to Earth 5.
Lifespans were much longer during Earth 2 wherein people lived several hundred years (Genesis 5). Why was this so? Likely because there was a thick vapor sunshade that safeguarded life from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (Genesis 2:5-6 & Job 38:8-11). Our globe was like a greenhouse with dense flora growing everywhere, including the poles. In short, the atmosphere prior to the worldwide flood was favorable to prolonging lifespans. These long lifespans will return during the Millennium in Earth 4, no doubt due to the vapor covering being restored.
As the population increased, humanity devolved to the point of being so wicked and perverse that the LORD was sorry for creating humanity. Consequently, God flooded the earth to wipe out the evil of humanity with the exception of Noah & his family – eight people – who escaped via a huge ocean liner-like vessel filled with all manner of animals (Genesis 6:5-7:24).
The change agent from Earth 2 to Earth 3 was water via global flooding. The LORD apparently caused the protective vapor sunshade to fold and allowed “springs of the great deep” to burst forth upon the planet’s surface (Genesis 7:11-12).
Earth 3: Our Current Earth
Our present earth is Earth 3, which has been in existence since the Genesis flood wiped out Earth 2. Earth 3 will continue to exist until the end of the future 7-year Tribulation and the Mighty Christ’s return to earth to set up his millennial kingdom (Revelation 6-19).
As with the Curse at the end of Earth 1, the Flood profoundly changed the environment of the Earth 2, resulting in Earth 3.
What changed? One theory is that the planet became skewed on its axis during this transition, which produced the polar ice caps. Another theory is that the single land mass – a supercontinent known as Gondwana (or Gondwanaland) – separated and drifted at this time, resulting in our current continents & islands (Genesis 10:25). Take a look at a world map and you’ll observe how they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. If this theory isn’t true then the continents must have separated & drifted in an accelerated manner during God’s creation week (for a better understanding of what I mean by “accelerated manner” see this article).
Meanwhile the collapse of the atmospheric sunshade resulted in ultraviolet radiation reaching the globe in levels heretofore unknown, which minimized natural lifespans to 120 years with the average being more like 70-80 years (Genesis 6:3 & Psalm 90:10).
Unlike Earth 1 and Earth 2 (and Earth 4 and Earth 5) wherein each involves a single age, Earth 3 is comprised of four different ages:
- The Age of Human Government, which started after the Genesis flood and extended to the call of Abram/Abraham.
- The Age of Promise, which began with God’s call of Abraham and includes the time of the patriarchs, ending with the exodus of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, a period of about 430 years. During this era God established a great nation that He had chosen (Genesis 12:1–Exodus 19:25).
- The Age of the Law corresponds to the LORD giving the Law (Torah) to the Hebrews and leading them into the land of Israel to conquer and inhabit.
- The Age of Grace began with the death & resurrection of Christ and the establishment of Christ’s body on earth thru spiritual rebirth, which is the Church worldwide regardless of sectarian tags.
The New Testament Scriptures plainly show that Earth 3 and the age of grace are a temporary phenomenon:
For this world in its present form is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:31b
The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God remains forever.
1 John 2:17
Earth 3 will end with the cataclysmic earthquakes and atmospheric changes of the 7-year Tribulation and, ultimately, the return of the Christ detailed in Revelation 6-19. These alterations will so revise the planet & its heavens that Isaiah referred to the time of the thousand-year reign of the Lord as “the new heavens and the new earth” (Isaiah 65:17), which shouldn’t be confused with the Eternal Age of Earth 5 (Isaiah 66 & Revelation 21). This brings us to…
Earth 4: The Millennium
As with Earth 5, the nature of reality in Earth 4 — the Age of the Millennium — will be quite different from what we experience now in Earth 3. The Millennium is clearly detailed in Revelation 20:1-10. Earth 4 will be the result of earthquakes so massive that every vale will be elevated, every peak depressed, and every isle relocated (Revelation 6:12-14 & 16:17-21). Jerusalem will be raised up, and Mt. Zion will be established as chief of the mounts in some manner (Zechariah 14:10 & Micah 4:1).
More importantly, Christ will reign from Jerusalem with the assistance of glorified, immortal believers while the devil & his filthy angels will be locked up in the Abyss, unable to deceive the nations until they’re released at the end. Meanwhile, mortals still alive at the end of the Tribulation and designated as “sheep” will be spiritually regenerated and allowed by Christ to enter the Millennium where they will propagate (Matthew 25:31-46), which you can read more about here. The Temple in Jerusalem will apparently be many times its current size with odd modifications.
Moreover, the laws of nature will be vastly different due to the Genesis curse being partially lifted. As such, animals will no longer eat other animals and so “the wolf will live with the lamb,” “the cow will feed with the bear,” “the infant will play near the hole of the cobra and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest” and “the whole earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:6-9).
Furthermore, Isaiah 65:20,22 shows lifespans returning to the exceptional lengths recorded after the fall of Adam & Eve in Earth 2. As noted earlier, these extended lifespans were likely due to Earth 2 having a thick vapor sunshade which safeguarded life from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (Genesis 2:5-6 & Job 38:8-11). Our globe during Earth 2 was like a greenhouse with dense flora growing everywhere, including the poles. The long lifespans of the Millennium in Earth 4 will likely be due to the vapor covering being restored. The planet will again have lush vegetation in great quantity (Isaiah 30:23-26 & Amos 9:13-14); even the Dead Sea will flourish (Ezekiel 47:1-9).
What is God’s purpose for the Millennium? See this article.
Earth 5: The Eternal Age of the New Heavens and New Earth
How is it that the earth during the future millennial reign of Christ – which is the Millennium or Earth 4 – morphs into Earth 5, the eternal new heavens and new earth? This passage shows:
10But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and its works will be laid bare…
13But in keeping with God’s promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:10,13
God will make vast changes to the earth & universe via purifying fire, both physical and spiritual.
Here’s a passage from Isaiah that concerns the Eternal Age of the new heavens and new earth:
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD.
This eternal age is also detailed in the book of Revelation:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying:
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them as their God.
4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the former things have passed away.”
As noted above, Peter instructed us to look forward to this eternal age:
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:13
The eternal age of the new heavens and new earth is when the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, will come down out of heaven from God to rest on the new earth where “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them” (verse 3). Notice how this is contrasted to the former ages saying, “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (verse 1).
In the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth, God’s government will reign in the universe and we’ll be his citizens/children/servants. Many theologians refer to this eternal age as “heaven,” which can be confusing because the normal understanding of Heaven is the spiritual realm where the LORD’s throne is located and it was from this nonphysical realm that God created the physical realm, i.e. the earth and universe. In other words, it was through Heaven (the spiritual realm) that the Earth & Universe (the physical realm) came into being.
The new heavens and new earth concern the physical earth and universe made new for eternity with all former maladies forever removed, like pain, aging, death and grieving (Revelation 21:4). Interestingly, we see the Creator making his dwelling with humankind (verse 3), which suggests Heaven coming to Earth and a kind of merging of these two realms. This was the way it was during Earth 1: when Adam & Eve were in the Garden of Eden the LORD was in their midst (Genesis 3:8). This aspect of the new heavens and new earth shows that there’s some justification for referring to it as ‘heaven,’ even though it’s not technically the spiritual realm where God’s throne is located, which is how we normally perceive the idea of Heaven.
Obviously the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth will be a wholly different reality than what we understand today. For instance, there will be no more death or pain and the redeemed will have glorified, imperishable bodies (Revelation 21:4 & 1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Since we won’t be able to die in the new heavens and new earth we can jump off a cliff or skyscraper without a parachute. We’ll also be able to walk through walls like the Messiah did after he received his glorified body; we’ll even be able to teleport from place to place at will (Luke 24:31, 36-37). In short, the nature of reality will be vastly different during the Eternal Age of Earth 5.
For more on the nature of eternal life in the new heavens and earth go here.
The Five Earths, the Eight Ages, the Various Covenants and the Four Change Agents
Let’s outline the five earth-realities and how the eight ages fit, plus the four change agents from one earth-reality to the next. Included in the outline are the various covenants God has made with humanity through the ages:
Earth 1: From Creation to the Fall of Humanity
The Age of Innocence
The Edenic Covenant: Innocence (Genesis 1:26-30 & 2:16-17)
The Adamic Covenant: Grace (Genesis 3:16-19)
Change Agent: The Genesis Curse
Earth 2: From Adam & Eve to the Global Flood
The Age of Human Government
The Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9 & 2 Peter 2:5)
Change Agent: The Global Flood
Earth 3: From the flood to the Tribulation and Second Coming of Christ
The Age of Human Government: From the Genesis flood to the call of Abram/Abraham
The Age of Promise: From God’s call of Abraham to the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt
The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:2-3, 13:16, 17:4-5 & 22:18)
The Palestinian Covenant, aka the Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-10)
The Age of the Law: From the LORD giving the Law (Torah) to the time of John the Baptist & Jesus Christ (Luke 16:16)
The Mosaic Covenant, aka the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 11 & Exodus 20)
The Davidic Covenant (Samuel 7:8-16)
The Age of Grace: From the establishment of the Church to the Second Coming of Christ
The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34 & Hebrews 8:6)
Change Agent: Massive Earthquakes and Atmospheric Phenomena
Earth 4: From the Return of Christ to the Satan’s Final Coup Attempt (Revelation 20)
The Age of the Millennium
Change Agent: Universal Fire, spiritual and physical
Earth 5: The New Heavens and New Earth
The Eternal Age
Ages or “Dispensations”?
The eight ages could be referred to as “dispensations” – divinely appointed ages noted in the Scriptures – even though dispensationalists usually (and curiously) omit the last age, the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth. (I suspect they do this to limit the ages to seven, which they deem a perfect number; or perhaps they separate the first seven ages from the age of the new heavens and new earth since the latter is the everlasting, permanent age, which itself will be split into ages — see Ephesians 2:7).
Yet I intentionally left out any references to ‘dispensations’ because dispensationalism is offensive to some camps in the body of Christ, particularly those who embrace Amillennialism, which is a grossly unbiblical doctrine. (You can read about Amillennialism and why it’s so unscriptural here). In other words, I left out the word “dispensation” to show readers how obvious the concept of five earth realities and eight different ages are in God’s Word without the risk of anyone stumbling over the word ‘dispensation.’
As it turned out, this happened anyway. After reading the article, someone wrote me with a smart aleck vibe saying:
You have spoken like a true Dispensationalist, Dirk. Are you aware that Dispensationalism is a heresy?
To these types of people ‘Dispensationalism’ is their spiritual boogeyman. They consider it a great evil in the body of Christ today even though it’s obvious that the Bible demarcates different ages in history, such as the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-10) and the eternal age of the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22 & 2 Peter 3:13), not to mention the initial age of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-3) and the New Covenant Church age or age of grace (John 1:17 & Matthew 16:18). While anti-Dispensationalists are prone to reject the age of Christ’s millennial reign due to their stupefying adherence to Amillennialism, how can they possibly discount these other glaring ages in Scripture? How can they discount “the present evil age” noted in Galatians 1:4, which refers to all the ages of Earth 3 and arguably Earth 2? Even novice students of the Bible can discern these divinely appointed ages. In other words, if they acknowledge any of these various ages obvious in Scripture then they believe in ages; and believing in different ages in biblical history & prophecy is dispensationalism, at least a form of it.
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