A New Heaven and A New Earth
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind….I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness…Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” — Isaiah 65:17-25
“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, 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, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” — Revelation 21:1-3
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” —Revelation 21:5
Jesus makes all things new. St. John tells us in the prologue to his Gospel that “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:3). He is making us new. He is rebuilding His Church. He is creating a new heaven and a new earth, “and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind…” Many people have been crying out during this pandemic that they want things to “get back to normal”, to get back to the way things used to be. That is not going to happen. “Behold,” Jesus says, “I am making all things new.” God has been dismantling the Church, and turning our world upside down. His plan and purpose is to remake His Church, His Holy Temple, His people into a new creation. Without putting away the old, we cannot put on the new.
Revelation 21 picks up the promise given in the prophecy of Isaiah 65. God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. But notice that “the first heaven and the first earth have passed away.” This is the loving work of our gracious Father, for His desire is for us. He created us to dwell with Him, but we chose in our fallen nature to separate ourselves from Him. Now, with the creation of a New Heaven, and a New Earth, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
We may grieve the loss of what was familiar, but “Behold”, says our Lord, “I am making all things new.” And all that God creates is “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Many years ago, as I came home from church, my former neighbor was standing in her driveway crying. We had a long talk, and she was grieving “the loss of her life.” Her daughter had just started first grade, her car had just died and would need to be replaced, not repaired. Her husband had a new job as a delivery man and would have to leave home before dawn, and her son was weaned, out of diapers, and “didn’t need her any more.” Sadly, a few weeks later, she tried to slit her wrists. She was unable to put off the old to receive the new. We may not be ready to commit suicide, but many of us grieve the loss of so many familiar and comfortable things.
Take heart in the words of Isaiah’s prophecy: “Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress” (65:18-19). God is creating something so much better than any of us can conceive. We need only cooperate with Him to see the magnificence of His new creation.