Today from the latter half of Isaiah chapter 65 I would like to talk about the new heaven and earth. The Lord answered Isaiah’s prayer, “After all this, O LORD, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?” (64:12) with surprising words, “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name.
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” (1) In other words, this was so that by Israel rejecting God, salvation will come to the Gentiles. This was not so they would stumble and fall. Then by the Gentiles being saved, Israel will become jealous and from among the Israelites a few people will be saved. This is the remnant of Israel. By this, all of Israel will be saved. “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Roman 11:33) God’s plan of salvation is really amazing!
However, that is not all. In today’s passage it speaks about God’s plan of salvation being fulfilled by the form of a new heaven and a new earth. It isn’t just being freed from earthly suffering, being freed from Babylon, but beyond that it is the real solution that is brought by the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. In reality God’s people being restored from Babylon is a pattern that God’s people who have been redeemed of their sin will live in a new heaven and earth.
- The creation of a new people of God (Vs. 13-16)
First of all please look at verses 13 to 16. Verse 13 to 14 say, “My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.”
“My servants” (13) are those people who have had their sin redeemed by God. They are the people that responded to God’s call and received and accepted God’s salvation. These are not the Jews that were living in Jerusalem. They rebelled against God so it caused God to rage up in anger. The retribution for such people is as verse 12 says is God’s judgment. They will be slaughtered and fall. However in the midst of this those who receive God’s salvation will be called “my servants” (13). They are the remnant. They will receive blessings. They “will eat…drink…rejoice…sing out of the joy of their hearts”. (13, 14) They are “his servants he will give another name”. (15) The name that they will be given is “Christian”. They will be called Christians. Please open your Bibles to Acts 11:25 and 26. “Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
It was at this time that those who believed in Jesus were first called Christians. “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) Until then they were called “the way”. This came from the teaching of Jesus that he is “the way”, “the truth”, and “the life”. Among themselves Christians called each other “brothers and sisters”, but ordinarily they were called “the way”. After they came to Antioch they came to be called “Christians”. That’s because they were always talking about Christ. They brought every conversation to the topic of Christ. Everything they said and listened to was about Christ.
This was a nick name. It was a nick name meaning “Crazy for Christ” or “Stupid for Christ”. They talked about Christ everywhere so they began to be called “Crazy for Christ”, “Christian”. In other words, in everyone’s eyes they had a visible lifestyle. That is a Christian.
How about us? There are some people who are visibly Christian from the beginning, but in most cases we don’t actively make it clear by ourselves. We hate for other people to be surprised that we a Christian. However, a Christian is “Crazy for Christ”. They live for Christ. They talk about Christ all the time. They can’t be silent. If you know the wonderful salvation of God, if you know the amazing grace, then then you can’t be silent.
In the NHK drama, the strategic Kanbe too believed in Jesus Christ and became a Christian. On his chest was always a cross necklace. Of course, the Christian Daimyo Ukon Takayama was also so. When they became a Christian they had a completely different way of living than before. In everyone’s eyes, he had a lifestyle that everyone would know that he was a Christian. How about you?
Among Christians there are some that even though they don’t say anything people think they must be Christians because in their daily life they always reflect what Jesus would say or do. This is splendid. Whether you say you are a Christian or not, if through your life you witness to Christ, how splendid. However, there are a lot of splendid non-Christians. Rather, unless you put into words how wonderful God is who saved you, people won’t understand. May we too be called a Christian, crazy for Christ.
Please look at verse 16. “Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.”
Here “the one true God” (16) is being stressed. “The one true God” in Hebrew is “the Amen God”. “The Amen God”, “The one true God”, (16) is written about in Rev. 3:14. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write; These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” The words of Jesus Christ are being sent “To the angel of the church in Laodicea.” (Rev. 3:14) It is clear if you look at Rev. 1:17 and 18. “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” That is Jesus Christ. This Jesus Christ is “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (Rev. 3:14) Jesus Christ is “the one true God” (16), “the Amen God”.
If you look at I John 5:20, this can be seen here too. “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
“He is the true God and eternal life.” (I John 5:20) Christians are blessed by Jesus Christ, “the one true God”. (16) By Jesus Christ former struggles are dismissed from our minds. Before we knew Christ we were full of baggage: sin, concerns, struggles, hurts, pains, sadness, etc. However, when we believed in Christ, “the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (17) By the blood of Christ we are washed clean. We don’t have to be tortured by past guilt and feelings of wrongdoing. We don’t have to feel defeated forever. Christ redeemed you of your sin. You by Christ have been created anew as God’s servant, a Christian. “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (II Cor. 5:17)
“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (II Cor. 5:17) That is a new creation. It is a new creation in Christ. “The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (17) “The new is here!” (II Cor. 5:17) That’s a wonderful promise, isn’t it? We often think that it would be nice if we had a reset button to redo our lives. We think how nice it would be if we could erase and rid ourselves of all our past sins, dirt, struggles, and hurts and redo our lives on a clean slate. God through Jesus Christ opened a way for you to start a new and redo your life. If you are in Christ daily you can walk anew. God can change your insides into a new creation.
- A new heaven and a new earth (Vs. 17)
The second point is that the work of God’s new creation is the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Please look at verse 17. “Behold, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be
nor will they come to mind.”
Here God is through Isaiah promising “new heavens and a new earth.” (17) In contrast to the “new earth”, now the universe that we are living in that is earth centered is the “old earth”. We don’t know exactly how many years ago, but as it says in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” it was created by God. This old heaven and earth will be gone and a completely new heaven and earth will be created.
This word, “create” (17) is used for creating something completely out of nothing and expresses a creation out of nothing. A different word is used for creating things out of materials. To make things out of material even man can do. However, to make something completely new out of nothing only God can do. God is saying that he is going to “create new heavens and a new earth” (17) that is completely different from this heaven and earth.
We tend to think that the heaven and earth that we are living in now will continue forever, but that is not so. This earth will be destroyed by the filth of sin, and a time will come when it will be exchanged for a completely new heaven and earth. It is a little long, but let’s look at II Peter 3:7-13.
“By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends; With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be! You ought to live holy and godly lives as you forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”
Here it says, “the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” (II Peter 3:12) All substances down to the atom will all melt away. The heavens will be completely destroyed. All traces of it will disappear. However, for the children of God that believed in God and were saved “a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (II Peter 3:13) is prepared for them. This is heaven.
Verse 17 said, “The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.”
That is because the former things have passed away. There God “will live with them…He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Rev. 21:14) All the various mourning, crying, pain and troubles that we have experienced on this earth “will not be remembered nor will they come to mind.” (17) That is because the former things have passed away. Everything will be completely different from what we have experienced up until now. A world of a different dimension will come. This is for Christians a really huge encouragement!
For those who have repented and believed in Jesus Christ, living in this world may in some ways be difficult. We are thankful that we can walk knowing that God is with us, but on the other hand, it is a reality that the more we believe we run into troubles, trying times, and things that we can’t accept. Persecution, others disapprove of us, and many pressures occur. However, God does not leave Christians in the same situation forever. In the course of time, we can live in a new heaven and a new earth. Therefore, let’s put our hope here and live a life that is tied to that hope. If our lives end only with the negative thoughts of our troubles, then it is really sad. No matter what surrounds us, no matter what happens, let’s walk confessing that in the course of time, in the end we have the hope. This is what God wanted to tell Israel, rather us mankind, through Isaiah.
Recently we were able to send Mrs. Fukuda to heaven. Also there are many other people who are struggling with sickness. When I go to such people and pray and sing, I think in the end this is all there is: even if you die, living life, eternal life, is really our ultimate hope.
- The new blessings of creation (Vs. 18-25)
Lastly, let’s look at verses 18 to the end of the chapter. Verse 18 says, “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.”
Here it says, “I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.” (18) “Jerusalem” (18) is the holy city of the “new heavens and a new earth” (17) that I previously spoke about. This is the Jerusalem of heaven. Rev. 21:2 says, “I see the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” “Jerusalem” (18) is this “Holy City, the new Jerusalem.” (Rev. 21:2) There “the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.” (19) “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.” (20) “They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” (21) “No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.” (22) In this world there are cases of no matter how much you sweat working, you are exploited. However, in the New Jerusalem this will not be. If you work, then you will receive payment for the amount you work. “No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.” (22)
Verse 24 says, “Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.” This is wonderful. While we are saying, “Jesus”, the answer, “What?” will come. The Lord who knows all about us is always next to us and quickly answers us. Until then we had sin so the Lord’s answer was sometimes slow in coming. “Surely the arm of the LORD is not
too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.” (59:1, 2) That sin will all be removed and you will enter into intimate fellowship with God so when you call out “God” he will answer immediately.
Then in verse 25, “’the wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,’
says the LORD.”
There will be no meat eaters. They “will feed together” (25) eating grass and straw. Such a peaceful world will come.
In the New Jerusalem there is supposed to “be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Rev. 21:14) Even so if you look at verse 20 it says, “he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.” To live a long life and “no more death” (Rev. 21:14) are two different things.
In reality the contents of up until verse 19 and the contents after verse 20 are the same prophecy of the end times, but they are describing different ages. The contents up until verse 19 are scenes of the new heaven and new earth that will come after the heavens and earth perish. From verse 20 on is a prophecy of the Millennium which will occur before that. Isaiah is looking at two scenes of the Millennium and the new heaven and earth that will come after that without distinguishing between the two. That is just like when we are looking at two things in the distance. For example, if we look at Osaka and Hiroshima from here, in reality they are quite a ways apart, but they look like they are in the same spot. When Isaiah saw the vision for the end of the world, it reality there was actually a huge time difference between the Millennium and the New Jerusalem, but he saw them as being in the same age at the end of the world.
In the New Testament, it is described a little more clearly. When Christ returns again those in Christ “will be caught up…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (I Thess. 4:17) After that with Christ we will rule with Christ for a peaceful 1000 years. Then we will enter into the new heaven and new earth and God’s Holy Jerusalem. “And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (I Thess. 4:17) This is our hope.
This is definitely not nonsense. That is because it is based on the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ’s cross and resurrection. Before Christ was crucified, he said to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
This place is really heaven. Jesus ascended into heaven to prepare that place. When the place is prepared, he will come back to get us. That day is close.
Therefore, we let’s realize the hope that is promised to us and even if our actual life has hardships and struggles and we think we can’t bear it any longer, even so let’s put our hope here and while holding on to God, let’s walk with praise and thanksgiving. In the course of time you will enter a new heaven and a new earth. You will forget former troubles, and God will wipe every tear from your eyes. You will receive encouragement from God. Let’s depend upon God’s promises.