Hello Keyser. In answer to your question, the REALITY IS, that the term "heaven and earth" was a colloquial expression and concept the Jews used and is synonymous with similar terms such as: "system of things."
Heaven and earth and the concept of the harmony of the universe connects to the idea of the "order of things" and the current world circumstances. So when the term "new heavens and earth" is mentioned, it just means the old world of Satan or the current world of doing things, the current system of things would be replaced by a new one.
In the time of christ the focal "system of things" or current "heavens and earth" was the rule under the gentiles. Thus when the gentile times ended, it was seen as that "heaven and earth" passing away. It is interesting to see how this works well in Revelation where there are clearly different "system of things"/"heavens and earth" scenarios and it uses that concept of heaven and earth passing away or "fleeing" as the major change of circumstances occur. That is, when Satan is destroyed after the millennium all new rules are set up. There is a world without Satan. It is followed by the special period of Judgment Day, where the dead will rise and be judged. So to give the concept that this is a whole "new age" or new world, it speaks of heaven and earth fleeing...
But Judgment Day would not last forever. This is a special time period with sort of its own special rules and focus. Once everyone is judged, then a "new age" can begin. Judgment Day and it's "system of things" ends. Thus again the concept of "heaven and earth" passing away. Here are those verses showing the use of this wonderful idiomatic expression:
10 And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet [already were]; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
11 And I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Ha´des gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. 14 And death and Ha´des were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire. 15 Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.
21:1 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more.
See? Not hard to understand in this context. Everything there is a major change in "administration" or focus or something that can clearly signify a major change in the order of things or the "system of things", the way 'heaven and earth" are organized, then the expression is used to signify one "heaven and earth" passing away and another coming in.
Thus this is an IDIOMATIC expression in those times that is used very generically. It is in no way a literal reference to the actual earth and heaven, just borrowing the concept of the order of the cosmology of the heavens and the earth and the order of the universe to apply to the concept of the state of the world at a given time.
So, when you think of "heaven and earth" think of "system of things." When and "end of the system of things" occurrs it can be said that "heaven and earth" fled and a "new heavens and earth" arriving.
EXPRESSIONS ESTABLISH STRICT CHRONOLOGY FOR JUDGMENT DAY: Note, as well, when this expression is used it requires the reference to the previous verses and circumstances. Thus when Satan is destroyed in the lake of fire and it notes that "heaven and earth" fled, it is a reference to the age of Satan and all that entailed. When it introduces a "new heaven and earth" then it introduces a new system of things, that immediately follows. One "heaven and earth" ends and another follows. Thus this means that Judgment Day and the resurrection of the dead are not part of the previous "system of things" or order of "heaven and earth" that existed before Satan was destroyed. Thus in no way can the "heaven and earth" of Judgment Day be retrodated to occur during the millennium as some try to teach, like Jehovah's witnesses. There is ZERO resurrection during the millennium! The Bride Class are resurrected before the millennium begins, and that is it. No one else is resurrected until Judgment Day begins. Thus clearly understanding the colliquial and idiomatic use of "heaven and earth" helps us to understand the "order of things" of this part of Revelation. Sometimes, indeed, some things are not in chronological order in the Bible, but in this case, the chronological order is specifically controlled by clearly separating Judgment Day as a different "heavens and earth" scenario than the one just preceeding it, which was the millennium and Satan's last test.