Isaiah 65:17-25 (CEB)
Look! I’m creating a new heaven and a new earth:
past events won’t be remembered;
they won’t come to mind.
18 Be glad and rejoice forever
in what I’m creating,
because I’m creating Jerusalem as a joy
and her people as a source of gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad about my people.
No one will ever hear the sound of weeping or crying in it again.
20 No more will babies live only a few days,
or the old fail to live out their days.
The one who dies at a hundred will be like a young person,
and the one falling short of a hundred will seem cursed.
21 They will build houses and live in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They won’t build for others to live in,
nor plant for others to eat.
Like the days of a tree will be the days of my people;
my chosen will make full use of their handiwork.
23 They won’t labor in vain,
nor bear children to a world of horrors,
because they will be people blessed by the Lord,
they along with their descendants.
24 Before they call, I will answer;
while they are still speaking, I will hear.
25 Wolf and lamb will graze together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but the snake—its food will be dust.
They won’t hurt or destroy at any place on my holy mountain,
says the Lord.
In this passage, Isaiah is speaking words of hope to people who have suffered greatly. They are the people who have survived the Babylonian invasion and the destruction of Jerusalem. The few who survived the starvation of the siege, the brutal violence that followed, and the destruction of the temple and their holy city were carried off and forced to live in the foreign land of their captors. You can read their psalm of lament here.
Isaiah’s words bring hope to these people living in despair; God has not abandoned them, and God will not leave things the way they are. God will restore them. Jerusalem will be a joy. No one will die young, and everyone will enjoy peace and prosperity. There will be no more crying. No one will even remember how bad things were. Sounds good, right? Sign me up! God’s salvation here is so broad that all of creation is transformed. Even wolves and lambs will live in harmony!
What is important to note here is that the salvation God brings happens here and now. Salvation for Isaiah is for the world around us, not for some far off heaven when we die. Isaiah’s words for us today promise that God will transform our world too. Justice will prevail. Peace will come, and violence will be no more. No matter how bad things seem in the world, we can trust that God won’t leave them like that.
What would God’s new Heaven and Earth look like to you?
How does your faith help you endure hardships in the present? How does it give you hope for the future?
What part of Isaiah’s vision gives you the most hope?
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