Will the Sea Exist in the New Earth?
“The sea divides friends. It is a barrier between us and those whom we love. Our associations are broken up by the broad, fathomless ocean….
As Adventists, we typically teach that the sea will not exist in the new earth. This conclusion is drawn from a verse in Revelation and a statement in the Spirit of Prophecy. The Rod’s message, on the other hand, asserts that the sea will exist in the new earth. A discrepancy? As we will see, there is no real discrepancy. Let us begin by looking at the two statements in question.*
*“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was **no more sea.**” Revelation 21:1.
“The sea divides friends. It is a barrier between us and those whom we love. Our associations are broken up by the broad, fathomless ocean. In the new earth will be no more sea. . . .Thank God, in the earth mad new there will be no fierce torrents, no engulfing ocean, no restless, murmuring waves.”
These Inspired references appear clear without need of comment. But before you decide to move on, you should consider the Rod’s perspective.
It is true that the issue of whether or not the sea will exist in the new earth is not a critical doctrine. It is not what some would refer to as a salvation issue. However, since it has been raised as a point of discrepancy, it seems to demand a response.
Is it possible that we have misread Revelation 21:1? The weight of evidence will show that the clause, “and there was no more sea,” applies not to the first phrase about the new heavens and earth, but to the old one—the one that passed away. Let us look at it again, John wrote: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:” why? “For” or because, “the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” and in this old heaven and earth there was no sea. In other words, we have been misreading the text applying the phrase to the new heaven and earth! Houteff put it this way:
“When was there no more sea?—When the first heaven and the first earth passed away. The scriptures does not say that there shall not be any more sea in the earth made new. It simply says that ‘there was no more sea’ while the heaven and earth were in their removed state—‘passed away.’ In other words, the first part of the verse envisages a ‘new heaven and a new earth,’ whereas the last part foretells of no more sea before the ‘new heaven’ and the ‘new earth’ are made.”
Before responding more directly to Ellen White’s statement, we should ask ourselves why would God not have the sea in the new earth? What would be the point?
“Having created the sea before the beginning of sin, then to do away with it after the extinction of sin, as some teach that He is to do, would certainly not be His restoring ‘all things,’ but rather His doing away with them, and would imply that in the beginning He made a mistake in creating the sea, thus belying His pronouncement ‘that it was good.’ Gen. 1:10. Since, moreover, the serpent, not the sea, caused Adam and Eve to sin (Gen. 3:17), and since the serpent is to be in the kingdom restored (Isa. 65:25), why, then, should God do away with the sea?”
But, you’re thinking, didn’t Ellen White say that there would be no more sea in the new earth?
Ellen White’s Perspective
The biblical evidence above clearly shows that the “no more sea” phrase applies to the old heaven and earth, not the new. It is possible that the servant of the Lord personally was not aware that the sea will exists in the new earth because that was not the common understanding of the time. But as we have said several times already, light is progressive. No one messenger, Ellen White told us, “has ever attained to a full understanding of the great plan of redemption . . . “ In another reference she wrote, *“we have many lessons to learn, and many, many, to unlearn.*
But whether she knew of it or not, that was not the main thrust of her statement. A closer look shows that “the sea [now],” she wrote, “divides friends. [bracket added]. “It is a barrier between us and those whom we love. Our associations are broken up by the broad, fathomless ocean. In the new earth there will be no more sea . . .Thank God, in the earth made new there will be no fierce torrents, no engulfing ocean, no restless, murmuring waves.”
You can see that Inspiration was simply making the point that friends and love ones will not be separated by the sea in the earth made new. Whether she knew or not that the sea will exist in the new earth, the fundamental truth is that it will not be a barrier to God’s people. This is certainly true. But how can that be true, you ask, if the sea exists in the new earth? Ah! This is the beauty of truth.
You see, when God created the earth originally, although the sea existed, the land was one connected body. It was not disconnected or divided into continents as it is today. You will notice in Genesis that God divided the land from the waters and no mention was made of islands or continents. (Genesis 1: 10) Science now confirms this fact. Alfred Wegener, a German arctic explorer and geophysicists, first purported the idea of “continental drift.” The one continent theory became known as “Pangaea” to scientists. By the 1960s the theory had become plausible. Today, it is considered as a fact by most geologists. The science of continental drifts form the basis for predicting earthquakes and tsunamis.
We know that this present state of affairs came about as a result of the flood. So when God restores the earth, it will be as it was before the flood. Thus, in the new earth the sea will not pose a barrier between us and our loved ones. There will be no fierce, restless, torrents, because the earth will be pristine—perfect—balanced as it was in the beginning. So Ellen White is certainly correct and God will indeed restore all not some things! So that means that the sea will be in the earth made new. He said that it was good in the beginning (Genesis 1:10) and so it will be good in the new earth.