What is your experience of living in “the now and the not yet” between Jesus first coming and second coming? Are you looking forward to his return, excited about eternity? Do you ever become despondent and ask “How long?” Does it ever feel as though God is distant and silent?
Read Isaiah 65 -66
Yahweh’s response to the plea for mercy from the people is that he has not lacked mercy, not hidden away from them. Rather, he has consistently been there, pleading with them, calling them to repentance, offering mercy. However, they were the ones who refused. They rejected his law as symbolised by eating unclean food whilst at the same time claiming that they were holy. They were guilty of legalistic and ethnic pride. That’s why they experienced judgement and why there would be both judgement and mercy, vengeance and salvation to come (65:1-16).
It is because God is just, merciful and holy that he is about to do a new thing. He will create a new Jerusalem and a new creation. On the one hand, we might see this new creation language which also echoes back to Eden as imagery to give a sense of how distinct, new and glorious the experience of God’s people will be when brought back to the land. However, we are pushed beyond this to see not just a description of world changing circumstances for Israel but throughout the book it has been clear that God has a bigger plan which goes beyond the fulfilment seen in return from exile. God’s plan is to deal with all sin and evil in order to usher in the renewal of all creation under Christ’s reign (65:17-25).
A new heavens and a new earth, with a new Jerusalem point to a new temple but who cn build such a house for the Lord? Well a new humanity is required, men and women that reflect God’s character and are obedient to him. We see Jesus as both the new man and the new temple (66:1-6).
Jerusalem is likened to the a mother, going through pregnancy and into labour, giving birth to a son. Her suffering and trials are comparable to birth pangs. Out of Jerusalem’s humiliation and discipline, new hope, new life will come through the person of Jesus and the Gospel (66:7-14).
Isaiah finishes with a restatement of God’s future and eternal purposes. There’s the promise again of anew creation and that God’s people will be with him for ever. At the same time, there’s the warning of final, permanent judgement and eternal punishment (66:15-24).
Meditate on these words
“For behold, the Lord will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire. (66:15)
For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the Lord,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
- Compare and contrast the difference for those under the warning and those under the promise.
- How does this affect your attitude towards friends and neighbours?
- How will your actions change as a result
Thank you Lord God for the great and certain hope we have of eternal resurrection life in you. We look forward to the fulfilment of the promise, a new heaven and a new earth. Help us not to be complacent or selfish. We long that our friends and family might benefit from your grace and enjoy these promises too. Help us to warn them of the dangers of judgement and tell them the good news about Jesus and salvation.