As we would expect from a prophet, much of the book of Isaiah contains warnings and pronouncements about the sins of the people. The prophet has warned them of the coming destruction that results from their sin. Yet the words in Isaiah 65 offer a new vision for the kingdom to come, one that can stir the heart of even those most desperate in their circumstances. Existence as previously known will be turned on its ear. The images of the wolf and the lamb lying together and the lion eating straw like the ox reveal that in the new creation, the people can expect a rebirth of their human nature. No longer will the inclination of their evil and destructive hearts possess them, but, rather, the prince of peace will reign. The image exists not just for the hearers of Isaiah, but for anyone who hears the words. Our natures are reborn; our hearts will host the Prince of Peace.
Beyond wolves and lambs, lions and oxen, one other creature in Isaiah’s list doesn’t benefit from the new creation. Isaiah proclaims that the serpent will eat dust. Genesis 3:14 sealed the snake’s future: “Upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.”
That proclamation by God came as the consequence for the serpent’s deception of humanity. God still hates deceit. When we think that sin must rule in our hearts, we’ve not told the story of God’s promise for the new heavens and new earth. God’s promise holds power. May the story we tell be the promise of new heavens. That story has the power to defeat the deception of our hearts until promise becomes reality.
Powerful God, grant me peace as I await the new creation. Strengthen my heart as you hear my prayer. Amen.
Isaiah 65:17-25 looks toward God’s creation of “new heavens and a new earth.” Jerusalem itself is not to be restored but created anew, a place in which life will be revered and protected and in which God will permit no harm to any of creation. The New Testament lessons remind us of the reality— the sometimes painful reality—of the present. Second Thessalo- nians 3:6-13 warns against the disorderly conduct of those who believe that the newness of the eschatological future permits them license in the present. Luke 21:5-19 adds an element of sobriety to the singing of new songs and the expectation of a new future. The faithful are called to bear witness to God’s future in the present, precisely when the new future cannot be seen and even when it seems most improbable.
• Read Isaiah 65:17-25. How does the promise of the new heavens and new earth encourage to tell a new story?
• Read Psalm 118. Which story will you tell? The one of your captivity . . . or the one of your salvation?
• Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. Where in your life do you need to be more disciplined so that you do not deceive yourself?
• Read Luke 21:5-19. What signs from God are you seeking instead of trusting in what you know about God’s character?
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