Dec 19, 2023
The new heaven and earth promised by the LORD and achieved by the Servant will consist of such glory and perfection, beauty and splendor that the order of the old heaven and earth will fade into distant memory.
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17 ESV)
So great will the new world be that those in the new city of God will struggle to remember just how bad was the pain, sorrow, tears, disappointments, death, injustice, brokenness, heart-ache, and suffering. This forgetfulness does not diminish the affliction of the old world as much as it magnifies the greatness of the new.
Just as the glory of victory puts out of mind the sacrifices made in the daily grind of preparation. Just as the arriving at the mountain top overlook pushes from one’s thoughts the difficult climb - so the arrival of the new heaven and earth will replace the memory of hard days of the old with the present splendor and pleasure of the new. In the present world, the affliction and pain and sorrow seems chronic, intense, and all encompassing, but once the new arrives, the old world will be remembered as light and momentary.
Many points of difference will be seen between the new world and the old, but the most fundamental difference will be seen in the gladness and rejoicing of the citizens in that city.
18 …for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. (Isaiah 65:18 ESV)
This joyous city which the LORD will create stands in contrast to the former which He described for us in a previous message delivered by Isaiah.
4 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. 5 Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. 7 Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. (Isaiah 1:4-8 ESV)
Desolation, bruises, abandoned buildings, old lodges covered by vines, burnt down businesses, sickness, depression, joylessness - these describe the former city which will by the Servant give way to a new city in which joy will replace sorrow and singing will replace wailing. One day, so full will the present experience of joy be that the former sorrows will stay out of sight and out of mind.
God’s Servant, Jesus, Prepares a Place for You.
In the New Testament, we find that this New Heaven and Earth are the work of Jesus, the Servant of the LORD. He said this explicitly and unmistakably one day when talking to His disciples.
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3 ESV)
The disciples belonged at the time to a city of this old world. In their city they knew and would continue to know death, injustice, sickness, separation, and sorrow. Jesus spoke to their trouble hearts with a promise, that a new place, a residency in a new city would be theirs soon, for He Himself was going to prepare a room for them, a room near Him and with Him. This dwelling place would not remain empty, for one day He would return for them and take them away to the new place, the new city. In this new city, the city foretold of by the prophet of Isaiah and created by the Servant Jesus, will be a place of great joy for this was Jesus’ request and prayer.
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24 ESV)
So great will the joy of the new heaven and earth be that God uses the picture of a wedding celebration to demonstrate its coming.
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:6-9 ESV)
Oh how great the joy and delight and pleasure of that future city will be!
Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
Just as Isaiah sought to encourage the hearts of the Israelites in exile and just as Jesus sought to encourage the hearts of the troubled disciples, so I encourage you by turning your attention to the future joy which awaits you. Troubled hearts often give up. They tend to conclude the mountain top views are not worth the climb, the meal is not worth the hours of laboring in the kitchen, and the joy of standing high on the podium is not worth the grueling, disciplined hours of practice, exercise, and strict diet.
Is your heart troubled in this world? Are you suffering? Are you finding the day to day life difficult? I am not here to diminish your pain. Indeed the suffering of this world may, in a moment, turn the strongest man into a crying infant balled up in the fetal position. Surrounding us are terrors, monsters, pandemics, wars, selfish spouses, ungrateful children, thistles, hurricanes, demons, suicide, mass shootings, back-stabbing friends, terminal disease, loneliness, and grave yards.
In the midst of such, abandoning hope in the LORD, walking away from Him and seeking a little relief and reprieve often seems reasonable and permissible, but I encourage you to wait upon the LORD and in an act of trust cling to Him. Obey Him. Follow Him. In time, He will return to usher you into the new heaven and earth where the joy will be so high, the pleasure so intense, the delight so satisfying, that all your troubles which hang over your head with the crushing weight of a black, terrifying cloud will fade into the distant memory and you will be hard pressed to call them to mind.