“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
Her people will be a source of joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
will be heard in it no more.
“No longer will babies die when only a few days old.
No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life.
No longer will people be considered old at one hundred!
Only the cursed will die that young!
In those days people will live in the houses they build
and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.
Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses
and confiscate their vineyards.
For my people will live as long as trees,
and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.
They will not work in vain,
and their children will not be doomed to misfortune.
For they are people blessed by the Lord,
and their children, too, will be blessed.
I will answer them before they even call to me.
While they are still talking about their needs,
I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
The wolf and the lamb will feed together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
But the snakes will eat dust.
In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.
I, the Lord, have spoken!” (New Living Translation)
I long for better days. Perhaps you do, as well. Day after day I see the physical and emotional suffering of others. I hear of the many needs of people in my community and around the world. And I face my own personal experiences of loss, grief, disease, death, limitations, etc. We all do. We inhabit a planet full of people in want, families in crisis, communities in pain, institutions in decline, and nations in conflict.
Yet, thank God, it won’t be like this forever. There are days coming which many people could never even dream or conceive of – days of unimaginable blessing, peace, and rest. This is anticipatory joy.
The coming newness will be as large and capacious as God is. Although the old heavens have had controversy and rebellion, and the old earth is burned over with violence, the new realm of God shall be free of sin, death, and evil. It will be governed with unending peace, justice, righteousness, and faithfulness.
Stability and order will oversee long life. No more will there be waking up to mass shootings, overnight murders, theft, brutality, coups, wars, and unrest. Life itself shall thrive, and will not be continually at risk. Quality of life will be the rule, not the exception.
Economic security will be ensconced with no fear of losing jobs or being taken advantage of – no phishing emails, no scam artists, no religious manipulators – a person shall reap the full harvest of their labor. The land and its people will experience continual blessing, and no longer live under a curse. The threat of disaster won’t hang over everyone’s head.
Children will be protected and free from harm. Whereas they are vulnerable to a host of the world’s evils, in God’s new heaven and earth, every year is the year of the child. They will neither be exploited nor expected to be adults before their time.
In short, the coming newness will be a true egalitarian society in which everyone possesses what they need and contributes fully to the community and common good of all. It’s more than individual blessing; its public practices and policies of blessing for the entire community.
Civil peace and protection, economic viability and development, and social stability and security need more than human ingenuity and attention – they need God’s providential care and pure holiness to be realized on a real and practical level.
Accessibility to God is a must. Otherwise, we’re just building structures that will fall and programs which shall fizzle and be forgotten. According to the New Testament, such access has been granted.
For he [Christ] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us, abolishing the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:14-18, NRSV)
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, NRSV)
Present circumstances may be difficult; current situations might be hard; a sense of being overwhelmed could be our experience, right now – yet our present difficulties and current realities cannot overwhelm God’s new and upcoming heaven and earth. Our daring faith sees beyond the now to what will be.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them and be their God;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5, NRSV)