It’s easy in our darkest hour to despair. We rehearse the tribulations, trials, and troubles that bring us to the height of our pain. I suppose something helpful comes from telling these stories in that we confess our sin, which may have conspired in drawing us to the depths. The prophet Isaiah has plenty of words that express the pain of the depths. Yet, these words from Isaiah don’t rehearse the past; they claim the future.
The drama of salvation for God’s people takes shape through this vision of new heavens and a new earth! The pain of the past, of death, hunger and strife, are passing away. Isaiah’s words inspire and redeem! They remove the sting of the past—the weeping, the babies gone too soon, the sacrifice without benefit—and tell a compelling new story that becomes the vision of the people of Israel when thinking about the future. The vision of the new heavens and new earth culminates in Revelation 21:1-2—a life that awaits us when we endure through our present suffering.
Isaiah’s vision reminds us that God hears our call, and we have a new story to tell. Though our familiar story of trouble often springs to our lips, the story of new heavens and new earth bring purpose to our pain. Our passage today reminds us that what we see is not the end of the story. May this compelling vision give us courage and strength to face more days, each one bringing us closer to the new heavens and new earth.
God, I rejoice that you redeem and reform all my pain. May I glimpse your restored creation today and tell that story. Amen.
Isaiah 65:17-25 looks toward God’s creation of “new heavens and a new earth.” Jerusalem itself is not to be restored but created anew, a place in which life will be revered and protected and in which God will permit no harm to any of creation. The New Testament lessons remind us of the reality— the sometimes painful reality—of the present. Second Thessalo- nians 3:6-13 warns against the disorderly conduct of those who believe that the newness of the eschatological future permits them license in the present. Luke 21:5-19 adds an element of sobriety to the singing of new songs and the expectation of a new future. The faithful are called to bear witness to God’s future in the present, precisely when the new future cannot be seen and even when it seems most improbable.
• Read Isaiah 65:17-25. How does the promise of the new heavens and new earth encourage to tell a new story?
• Read Psalm 118. Which story will you tell? The one of your captivity . . . or the one of your salvation?
• Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. Where in your life do you need to be more disciplined so that you do not deceive yourself?
• Read Luke 21:5-19. What signs from God are you seeking instead of trusting in what you know about God’s character?
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