Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A New Heaven and A New Earth

A New Heaven And A New Earth

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1) There is a little story from II Samuel that helps us understand. One of the sons of giants came up to fight against David, now established king over Israel, and the giant carried a new sword.  Why a new sword?  Because he recognized that in David, something new had happened.  Gone were the times of Jesse who now “went about, an old man among men” (I Samuel 17:12); his times were over.  Gone were the times of oppression, humiliation and despair. Remember how day after day Goliath humiliated the armies of Israel but little David came up to fight, and that giant went down and the armies of Israel rose up with a shout.  God was victor and we in him.  The old times were finished and the new was here.  So when it says a new heaven and a new earth, that’s what it means. Jesus Anointed, our David, our warrior king, has come, and the old ways of sorrow and death and humiliation gone. The giants of sin and death and the devil and his prophet are down for the count, utterly vanquished. Jesus is victor.  We rise up and cast off unbelief and lies.  There are no more immoral, no more cowards. There is no more sorcery, idols, delusion.  All that is done and the new has begun.  Now is the time of refreshment and the restoration of all things. (Acts 3)  And God shall wipe every tear away from their eyes. 
Sometimes a question arises. I have talked to some people who think this verse means we fly away to a different earth or planet. They read Isaiah 51, “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 wax old like a garment” and they figure if everything is going pouf here, then logically we go some new place.  But the Bible says“No” to this idea.  In fact, every time the Bible talks of a new heavens and a new earth or about the earth or heavens growing old, it also makes it clear we aren’t going to a different planet.  Read on in Isaiah 51, in verse six it speaks of the heavens vanishing like smoke but in verse eleven, “therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing to Zion and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads and they shall obtain gladness and joy and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”  God is not talking about a Zion on some different planet.  He is talking about our Zion, our Jerusalem, the one with the Wailing Wall, the one with the little shops with their mountains of spices, the one with the Home Depot and the Burger King, the one sinning and sinned against, the one where tea is carried through the streets on silver tea trays, the one with white wall of separation running through the country like a scar, the one that God loves in spite of herself and will always love. 
All this is important because sadly when people move to a new apartment for instance, there is a temptation not to be careful anymore.   Sometimes they leave the apartment a terrible mess. There are those in the churches who have decided for the same reason not to take care of the rivers and the land and the heavens above, because, as they put it, “we are going fly away from this fallen earth to a new place, so why invest our time and talents in preserving and helping the fish and the trees and the seas and the animals?” The Bible corrects us.  We are not moving.  God is faithful to his creation.  His children are too. He is not giving up, nor will he ever give up on the rivers and the seas and the land and the heavens above.  On the contrary he is bringing all these things to perfection.  Through his faithfulness in Jesus we are made like him: caretakers, saviors, gardeners of all that he has given.