“Many…passages really speak not of a temporary or millennial reign, but of an eternal kingdom on earth. The passages under discussion assume the perfection or sinless-ness of this future kingdom. The millennium is not a perfected kingdom on anyone’s interpretation. It cannot, therefore, be that to which these passages refer.
Isaiah 65:17-25 is the most problematic of such passages and speaks of the new heaven and new earth in terms that at first glance seem to fall short of perfection.
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And. the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness. 19 I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. 20 No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed. 21 And they shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit, 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the Iifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands, 23 They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them. 24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.
Verses 20 through 23 seem to apply the language of “a new heaven and a new earth” to a period in which death is still a reality, It speaks of great longevity and remarkable freedom from early
death for the people of God, but this language seems to assume that in the end death is still a reality. Because of this language, this passage has been a classic proof-text for those who believe in
some form of millennial golden age.
Several conclusive arguments may be brought forward against the millenarian interpretation of this passage. First, all the other uses of the phrase, “New Heaven and New Earth,” in the Bible have reference to the eternal state and the perfectly redeemed earth (Isa. 66:22-24; 2 Pet. 3:13, and Rev. 21:1).
Second, the condition described in Isaiah 65 appears to be permanent not millennial (vvs.17b, 18), Third, the New Testament applies this passage to the eternal state. Verse 19 reads, “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying, This anticipates Revelation 21:4: “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Only the perfectly redeemed (and not the millennial) earth brings about the cessation of weeping and crying.
Fourth, the perfection of the conditions described in Isaiah 65 contradict the millennial interpretation. Isaiah 65:25 says, “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,’ says the LORD.” Only the eternal state brings the end of all evil and harm in God’s holy mountain.
How do we deal with the statements in this passage which assume the continuation of death in the New Heavens and New Earth? We must remember an important principle in the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy. Old Testament prophecy often predicts God’s coming, glorious kingdom by things familiar to the people of God.
Even we cannot understand what an earth without death would be like. This was even more true in the Old Testament shadows. Thus, the Prophets spoke of the age to come as the highest possible happiness in the world as we know it; Such happiness is pictured by a world where all the greatest sorrows and deepest tragedies of our world are unknown.
Thus, this passage does not speak of the absence of death. It speaks rather of great longevity and the absence of premature death. The unknown is revealed in terms of the known and the future in terms of the past.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of the wonderful temple illustrates this (Ezekiel 40-48). In particular, the prediction of sin offerings by a levitical priesthood within that temple must be explained on this basis (43:18-27). A woodenly literal interpretation of these chapters flatly contradicts the New Testament teaching on the finality and superionty of Christ’s sacrifice and the final abolition of the old sacrifices by Christ’s work (Remember Ephesians 2 and the Book of Hebrews).”
-Sam Waldron, The End Times Made Simple, 236-238.