In v. 1 John sees a “new heaven and earth.” It is often thought in preterist circles that when the Bible mentions “heaven and earth” that this expression just denotes the people of the earth, i.e. Israel. This idea is largely derived from Isaiah 1:2 and Deuteronomy 32:1. In Deuteronomy 32:1 Moses addresses Israel with the following expression: “Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.” Isaiah does the same in Isaiah 1:2: “Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!” At first glance both Isaiah and Moses appear to be just speaking to the people of the earth, i.e. Israel, in Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 1. See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations. The fact that heaven and earth are told to listen when it just appears to be the people of Israel who are being addressed has given rise to the idea that the expression heaven and earth refers just to the people of earthly Israel. Is this true?
When Moses and Isaiah call heaven and earth to listen to their words in Deuteronomy 32:1 and Isaiah 1:2 these prophets are alluding to Deuteronomy 17:6: “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” When Isaiah and Moses tell heaven and earth to listen to their prophetic warnings introduced in Deuteronomy 32:1 and Isaiah 1:2 they are calling on both heaven, the realm of God and angels, and earth to act as two witnesses. Heaven, the realm of angels, is addressed alongside the people of the earth, Israel, in Deuteronomy 32:1 and Isaiah 1:2. The calling on heaven and earth in Deuteronomy 32:1 and Isaiah 1:2 is no different from what is stated in Deuteronomy 4:26 and 30:19:
I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed (Deuteronomy 4:26).”
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (Deuteronomy 30:19)[.]”3
The angels of heaven are expected to hear and act as witnesses in the above verses because both blessings and curses ultimately issue forth from God and his angelic messengers in heaven. Thus heaven is told to listen in Isaiah 1:2 and Deuteronomy 32:1 and act as witnesses in Deuteronomy 4:26 and 30:19 so that the angels of heaven can witness the fact that God’s prophetic warnings were, in fact, proclaimed to Israel by His prophets. Thus when Moses and Isaiah call heaven to listen to their words they are calling on the angelic beings of heaven who are ultimately responsible for enacting God’s blessings and curses on Israel to witness the fact that Israel has received God’s prophetic warnings that immediately follow Isaiah 1:2 and Deuteronomy 32:1. Thus in Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19; 32:1; and Isaiah 1:2 heaven and earth are called upon to collectively to act as the two witnesses required to put someone to death (Deuteronomy 17:6). Thus Isaiah 1:2 and Deuteronomy 32:1 cannot be used as evidence that when heaven and earth are mentioned together in the Bible that this conjoining of heaven and earth just denotes the people of Israel, the earth. Instead, Isaiah 1:2 and Deuteronomy 32:1 are actually evidence of the fact that when heaven and earth are mentioned together that the heaven portion of this expression refers to the realm of God and His angels as is the case in every or nearly every other instance in which heaven is mentioned in the Bible.