the BIG story: Isaiah 65:17-25

At the end of the age, God will create a new heaven and a new earth and a new Jerusalem. It will be characterised by security, prosperity, safety, and close communion with God. Isaiah 65 picks up a theme continued by John in the Book of Revelation.

The central focus is the Lord, Immanuel; and the righteous will have free access to him. This glorious new creation will, as Paul says, begin the reign of Christ on earth, that will eventually be caught up to the Father (1 Cor. 15) and become what we call the eternal state. But Revelation says that whilst the saints will reign with Christ in earth; but have access to hin the heavenly sanctuary. It will all be far more wonderful, and complex, than we can even imagine.

Isaiah is describing the restoration of human society to its right conditions and of the transformation of the physical universe, just as in the Garden, the perfect creation was destroyed and changed by sin. The words are used of the Christian hope in 2 Peter 3:13, and Rev. 21:1. Weeping and mourning will be removed (v19), and one of the causes of sorrow, death, or at least untimely death, will be removed so that there will be longevity once again (20).

These descriptions have been taken in a couple of ways:

1. Some wish to take the expressions literally and see reference to a new period on this earth when all the transformations in it will be established; for in the eternal state there will be no death and no sinners at all. People who will be on earth will live, marry, have children, build, and be in harmony with nature. Jerusalem will be the centre of God’s theocracy, and there will be peace and safety there. This view, a millennial reign of Christ and His saints, would see these conditions in Isaiah as a prelude to the eternal state. This view harmonises well with some passages of the Bible, but not well with Isaiah 25 and with the order of things in Revelation.

2. Or, this passage is a picture of the new creation, since Isaiah 25 had announced there would be no death, following the timeline of Revelation (new heaven and new earth after the millennium). This language then is figurative and representative — if there were death, one who dies at 100 would be considered a child. And if there were sinners, they would be quickly condemned. But the weakness with this view is that it really strains the meaning of the text!

Whichever view is correct, there is coming a marvellous new creation that will end the curse and its effects, although the sequence of the events, and how it will all be worked out, is un certain. For the believers, if the new heaven and the new earth come about a little differently than expected, they will not be disappointed!

God will renovate all things in this world to show what he had intended from the beginning. And that “season of refreshing,” that “world to come” will see the final fulfilment of all the prophetic promises. Those who respond to God’s call and serve him faithfully are the heirs of that new creation. Those who stubbornly refuse his call and go after false gods instead will have everlasting death. Faithfulness to God’s call, then, becomes the central point of this prophecy. Believers must show their faith by their devotion; unbelievers must turn to the truth by faith, abandoning all false beliefs and wicked practices.

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