Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall grow old like a garment, and they that dwell in it shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
Read Chapter 51
George Leo Haydock
Fail. Matthew xxiv. 35. The prosperity of the Jews was not of long duration. But the Church will remain till the end of time.
[Some malignantly assert] that if heaven is indeed the throne of God and earth his footstool, and if … the heaven and earth shall pass away, then when these pass away, the God who sits above must also pass away, and therefore he cannot be the God who is over all. In the first place, they are ignorant what the expression means, that heaven is [his] throne and the earth [his] footstool. For they do not know what God is, but they imagine that he sits after the fashion of a person and is contained within the bounds, but nothing contains God. And they are also unacquainted with [the meaning of] the passing away of the heaven and earth; but Paul was not ignorant of it when he declared, “For the form of this world passes away.” In the next place, David explains their question, for he says that when the fashion of this world passes away, not only shall God remain, but his servants also, expressing himself thus in Psalm 101: “In the beginning, you, O Lord, have founded the earth, and the heaven...
And not only the souls of people, which are immortal, but also their bodies will be changed into a glorified substance.… The opinion of the world’s philosophers is that all things that we can see will be destroyed by fire.… Just as John the apostle says, “The world and its desire will pass away,” and here in Hebrew it is said, “The sky like smoke will evaporate,” or, as Aquila and Symmachus have it, “will be reduced to nothing and will be worn away.” … Therefore I wonder at what the Septuagint wants to say when it says, “The sky like smoke has been made firm.” For if we take “firmness” to be “solidity,” how can what is firm be compared with smoke? Unless perhaps we can say that all the firmness and solidity and strength of the heaven that dissolves in the air is as Ecclesiastes says, the most empty wind and smoke: “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” And that must be said that if the sky and the earth were to perish and grow old, then its inhabitants would also die and vanish, although...
But if our opponents say, How then is it, if the universe is not destroyed, that the Lord says that “heaven and earth shall pass away,” and the prophet, that “the heaven shall perish as smoke” and “the earth shall grow old as a garment”; we answer, because it is usual for the Scriptures to call the change of the world from its present condition to a better and more glorious one destruction, as its earlier form is lost in the change of all things to a state of greater splendor, for there is neither contradiction nor absurdity in the Scriptures. For not “the world” but “the fashion of this world” passes away, it is said. So it is usual for the Scriptures to call the change from an earlier form to a better and more comely state “destruction”; just as when one calls by the name of “destruction” the change from a childish form into a perfect adult, as the stature of the child is turned into mature size and beauty. - "On the Resurrection 1.9"