“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered.” Isaiah 65:17 (NIV).
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10
How many new things do we see around us? Things that are not just a little different but actually new? As we look around and experience our world today, most of us would like to see something new. Between a pandemic and its associated isolation and economic stresses, and the racial injustice that we saw so much of this year, it would be good to have things become new. The people Isaiah is addressing also would probably like a new world – they have been in exile, returned to Jerusalem, to a temple that is far short of its original glory. There is still pain and sorrow in their lives.
Then, they hear this message from God that the old things will go away, new heavens and earth will be created. The promise includes more than just all new earth and heavens, although that seems like more than enough. God also says that the former things will not be remembered. God will not remember the people’s sins, and the people will not remember their former pain and sorrow, their anxiety and worry. Creation will again be like what was intended at the beginning – free from illness, pain, suffering and death. Everyone will be living in God’s kingdom as He intends.
What could be newer than a baby? What a wonderful way to bring about this newness that God will create. In Matthew we read what Jesus taught His disciples to include in their prayers: that God’s kingdom come. That this wonderful kingdom will come right among us on earth. A new earth where God’s will is done. Imagine a world without pandemic and other diseases, without terrorism, one where racial justice happens, where there is no famine or shortage of housing. Everyone properly fed, housed, employed and at peace with one another. That is more than we humans can achieve, although we can certainly try. This new heaven and earth are the work of God, begun at Creation, through our salvation through Jesus Christ, and continuing forever.
Happy New year as we live and grow in the hope and joy we see at Christmas.
Creator God, when we imagine you building new heavens and a new earth we never would have thought it would begin with an infant. How marvelous are your ways! Your surprises enlighten us and we are inspired by them. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to live among us. Everlasting Lord, yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory – forever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.