Mike Gerhardt, 12-30-18, New Day, Isaiah 65:17-25. John Steinbeck was criticized by a professor that he would only publish when pigs fly. Steinbeck was a great writer of books like Grapes of Wrath & East of Eden. The Latin phrase ad astra per alia (alas) porci (to stars on the wings of a pig) is on each title page of his books. Therefore, the Pigasus was formed. Flying pigs would be a strange sight. If you saw them, you’d believe anything is possible. In the Bible there is no reference to flying pigs. It’s a time when lions will no longer devour wildebeests but eat straw like an ox verse 25. When this happens, we’ll see new heavens & a new earth. There’ll be no tears & we shall live in everlasting harmony. It sounds too good to be true. Isaiah who lived long before Jesus, wrote to the nation who had rejected God. His patience had run out with Israel. But there was a faithful remnant. God had words of comfort to them. They were surrounded by enemies and their land would soon be taken over by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, yet God had something wonderful planned for them. He said: Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth, Isaiah 65:17a. God was looking into the future when his Son returns to make everything new. It will be a wonderful place where glorified believers will live forever with God. Contrary to the pictures you’ve seen, no one will be sitting around on clouds playing harps looking bored. You’ll likely be walking on grass like Adam and Eve did in the original paradise, the Garden of Eden. God has given us many details of what this new world will be like. He told us: The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind, Isaiah 65:17b. Can you imagine? No bad memories. Veterans who carry with them horrific images of war will no longer wake in the night as bomb blasts invade their dreams. All the dumb comments we’ve made, the foolish things we did, none of those failings will come to mind ever again. Often those things keep me awake. What's even better is that God won’t remember them! The Bible says our sins are forgotten. On that day God is not going to recount all the sins we’ve committed while everyone else listens. This seems to be a popular misunderstanding even among Christians. First Corinthians 3 reveals the judgment seat of Christ will evaluate our works for his name. Though we may have some tears of regret for not taking every opportunity to be an agent of grace. Roman 8 says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. That file of sin will be destroyed. God constantly tosses the record of our sins into a vat of Jesus’ blood, as it were, where they dissolve like grains of salt in water. Listen to God's Word: I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more Isaiah 65:19. Perhaps God will selectively erase our memory. It just won’t occur to us that someone is missing. Our thoughts will be in harmony with God’s thoughts. We will understand and rejoice at God’s merciful judgment as much as we’ll rejoice at His saving grace. We have God’s word that nothing will bring tears in that wonderful place. Perhaps the biggest reason there'll be no tears of sadness is because there will be no more death. God expressed hyperbole in our text: 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; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed Isaiah 65:20. Is this the promised millennial kingdom or an allegory for heaven? That has been debated. It may be hyperbole for no more death. No miscarriages, or children dying. No one killed in car accidents or dying of cancer because there won’t be any death at all. Isaiah assured us earlier in 25:17: On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. There’s more about the new order, 22,23a: No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain. The new earth is not a place where we sit around and do nothing. We will work, just like Adam and Eve, to care for the Garden Eden. Every day will be like the best day at work here. I imagine the talents we have maybe carried over into that new world. Great musicians may keep producing great music. Good managers may keep things running. You'll love your work and not be frustrated. People you work with will not be a burden. You’ll live to serve them. You’ll be perfect just as Jesus is perfect. Animals will be changed forever! Isaiah 65:25a The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain. On the new earth, things will return to way they were meant to be. Animals will no longer tear each other apart like you see on the Nature Channel. They’ll live in harmony and so will we. We will be changed forever. No longer will be blame each other for our sins because there will be no more sin! But how does this news help you face the dentist on Monday or get ready for that math test on Thursday? Studying this text is like circling your vacation days on your kitchen calendar. You do that, not because you’ll forget to go on vacation but as motivation to keep you plugging away until then. When the shortened daylight hours lengthen your dark mood, it helps to flip ahead on the calendar and be reminded that in a month you’ll be basking in the sunshine on Waikiki. Your trip to Hawaii may motivate you to eat right and exercise so that you look good on the beach. The fact that we are headed to a better place will keep us from giving up on life or from getting wrapped up in the difficulties. Paul wrote Second Thessalonians 2:15-17: Brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. Jesus will create a world where the very presence of sin is gone. Why hold onto grudges now? Get an early start on that new life. Forget the sins that have been committed against you, just as God has already forgotten the sins that you have committed. You could say we'll stop sinning when pigs fly. But pigs don’t have to fly to be assured of forgiveness. That’s because of the Lamb of God. I look forward to the day when lions will eat straw like an ox, when believers will no longer cry and will live forever in perfect harmony. While we can’t circle this day on a calendar, but we can stay encircled in Jesus’ love. We can put Some Day at the top of each month to remind us that soon we'll set foot in that new world.
Recently I heard that we are all innkeepers in a way: do you have room for Jesus? We can get busy in this new year. Will we make room for Jesus? I hope so.