Whole Life Whole Bible Day 50
Revelation 21:1-3 (NASB)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them
Isaiah 65:17-18 (NASB)
17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness.
49: A world remade
Here, then, is the goal of God’s redemptive work — a new creation, redeemed and renewed. Not just heaven ‘above the bright blue sky’, but heaven and earth combined, fused — the two dimensions of reality brought together in a final triumphant rebirth, a new creation that began with Christ’s own resurrection. The very physicality of Jesus’ resurrection points us to the physicality of the new creation, albeit transformed. Because we believe in his resurrection, we also believe that we too will know ‘the resurrection of the body’ in the new heaven and the new earth.
It will be an earth purged of evil, put right, glorified as Jesus was glorified at the transfiguration, washed clean of dirt and pollution. There, God ‘will wipe every tear from their eyes’, and there will be ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:4). ‘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’ (Isaiah 65:20).
All that is beautiful and good will survive the purging fire of judgment, leaving a place that we will know and people we will recognize, just as the disciples recognized Jesus, not always straight away but always in a burst of delight.
As sleep that follows fever,
as gold instead of grey,
as freedom after bondage,
as sunrise to the day,
as home to the traveller
and all we long to see,
so is my Lord,
my living Lord,
so is my Lord to me.*
Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith wrote these words as a love song to the Lord that we can sing today. But they could equally well describe the way it will be when we are there with him in his new, fresh creation at the end of time, with all of the best of human life fully and comprehensively restored. This is the sure and certain hope that motivates us to bring the love, justice and joy of his kingdom into our world today.
For further reflection and action
After a long hard winter, the signs of spring delight the heart — the songs of busy birds, the flowering of early bulbs and the growing warmth of the sun. Rejoice in it all, and know that the Lord, who filled this damaged and troubled world with such beauty and joy in creation, will recreate a new world both reassuringly familiar and astonishingly different.
The Song of Songs is, for many people, a surprising book to find in the Bible. It’s a lyrical song in praise of human love — very physical, very sexual, with its love analogies drawn from the natural world, wine and perfume, gold and silver, springtime and blossom, leaping gazelles. Here again the Bible is giving us pointers, in our experience of human love and longing, to the redeemed and perfect creation that God has prepared for those who love him. Read it and praise him.
Read Revelation 20-22, noting the ‘shadow side’ of this amazing hope in those who are excluded from it. What do you believe about the final judgment of God, and why do you believe it?
* Extract from 'As water to the thirsty' by Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926) © Timothy Dudley-Smith in Europe and Africa. © Hope Publishing Company in the United States and the rest of the world. Verse reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.