Be Longing

Isaiah 65:17-25

David mourned when he lost his son. But after he buried him, he got up, washed, put on regular clothes, worshipped, and he went and ate something. His servants were astonished. He went from horror to happiness. Rediscovered joy. We’ve talked about a few things over the past few weeks. And I’ll just be honest. I’ve been struggling. We have been swimming in trial, struggle, and suffering.

And you know, we need to get up, wash, put on some fresh clothes, and eat something. What does the Bible say? Sorrow may last the night, but his joy cometh in the morning. We’ve been in the night. Let’s welcome the morning.

What Will Our Future Be Like?

  1. God Will Create It Absent Imperfections (65:17a)

His imprint will be on everything, because he will have created everything. It will be a world free of sin or imperfections.

With regard to humanity: We are made in beauty of his image, but when we look around, sometimes it’s difficult to believe. I’ll never forget Sonny Hoven who said, as Brian and I walked into the ER late one night, as he was laying there after battling extreme dehydration, exhaustion, and congestive heart failure…he looked over his tired old shoulder as his pastors walked through the doors to pray with him in his desperation…he said, just as quickly as he could: “Oh, Lord….I know it ain’t no angels.” We don’t exactly look as good as the angels, do we?

But in this world God says, “I will make.” We will be made without the blemishing effects of sin’s tarnishing. We will be immortal, incorruptible, and honorable.

With regard to the natural world: Trees will not be blighted. Flowers will not be endangered. rivers will not be polluted. And hairs won’t grow in strange places or fall out of where they belong.

The New Heavens and the New Earth must be free of imperfection because it comes from God after sin, death, Satan, demons, are destroyed and his people are remade, re-molded in the pure cast of his glorious image. We will have seen Him, and (1 John) therefore we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

The world, groaning (Romans 8) for the day of restoration will be laced with a clear, loud, full expression of his royalty, glory, and wonder. Even a firm atheist can hear Psalm 19 and creation telling us who God is – a tart strawberry, seas foaming on white sand shorelines, orange dusk with south-bound geese flying in a V. We recognize that’s heavenly music authored by God Himself. But not all of us. Sin “mutes,” famines “muffle” the noise, wars, jealousy, plague the effects of sin keep us from recognizing the glory of God written into Creation. But not in the age to come.

“I will create…” again. Trees will have no sickness and full colors. Think of the mountains; the clarity of unpolluted waters; booming blossoming of the full range of flowers; consider the fullness of God’s creative power unleashed in a resurrected body and recreated realm in which his perfected love and righteousness rules and reigns the world, unhindered and worshipfully apprehended by his people.  That’s what those words imply when God says: “I will make it…”

  1. It Will Be Full of Joy (65.18-25)

Bonhoeffer wrote about an interaction he had with a young boy in his church, whose dog, a Mister Wolf, died. He asked, “Will Mister Wolf be in heaven where I can play with him again?” He was concerned because to go to a future with God would be a loss to his happiness, because he was afraid Mr. Wolf wouldn’t be there. Bonhoeffer thought for a moment, and then assured him that what he loved would be in glory, if it was lovely and God loved it, because God wouldn’t prevent anything that gave joy to us from being in future glory. At which time, the boy, he writes, “was ecstatic, knowing that one day, the dog that woke him up in the morning would play with him in the world to come.”

Some of us have some strange ideas about what future glory will be. We hear people say that we will be separated from our spouses and friends, like it is some kind of bad party that your friend makes you come to, but really sounds more like Purgatory than Paradise.

If you’re really worried about spouses, jobs, kids, and you want to have them more than Jesus, very simply, you’re not a Christian, OK? You love them more than Jesus, and so you’re not a Christian.

But if you do love Jesus, listen to me now, do not let your hearts be troubled. Do you think the God who lavishes grace on us will design a world where you will be sad and without? No! He designs a place for us, where we will have Him. And because we have Him, He lavishes his grace on us into the coming ages ( Eph 2:7).

Look at the physical descriptions provided for us in this text.

Places/buildings (18-19 Jerusalem; 21 houses and fields; 25 mountain)

People (18) Business (23 Labor) Animals (25 wolf, lamb, lion, ox)

Future glory is a very physical, a very real world. We will not be ethereal ghosts that wish we could have what they used to have. You need to know that no joy you know in this life will be taken away in the age to come. In fact, because of life in the New Heavens and New Earth only improves, it’s beauty will only be ever-expanding, the joys there “are beyond any ecstasies known on earth.”  In fact, we have every reason to think that the New Heavens and New Earth will be a realm where joy only and always increases.

  1. Its Glory will only Amplify (65.17-23b)

We get the picture sometimes that New Heaven and New Earth is a “static” place. The end happens, then, boom, it’s all over and we just exist in this paradise.

But notice that this is a new heaven and a new earth. The full sense of that term is that it has a renewing newness. This is what Isaiah means in verse 20 and 23. Now, Isaiah is speaking poetically here because, if he wasn’t, we would have to assume that he’s telling us we will still die after 100 years (or a few weeks like the infant, or people must have vineyards). That’s not what he means. This is a way of saying that we won’t wear out like we used to (1 Cor 15). What this has to mean is that life connected to God in the age to come is continually renewing. It’s progressing.

How?

Jonathan Edwards explains it saying men in the New Heaven and New Earth are free from sin, but we are not as perfect as we shall ever be. We get to grow up, like little babies, into maturity. There is no indication that won’t have skills or occupations or things to learn. Thus, as we go on, we get more perfected, and therefore the New Heavens and New Earth only gets more glorious. And our joy there, therefore, only increases. The ultimate purpose for which we are saved is Ephesians 2:7. Hear this, “ages.” It is not a momentary celebration, and then boredom. And then we sit around sippin’ coffee talking about our past.

We have the pleasure of unrefined pursuit, and a growth into maturity of love and knowledge of the Lord and His created works. If God is infinite and can be infinitely known and enjoyed, then we will go on discovering more of Him, loving more of Him, and thereby becoming more glorified in His presence, with an ever-increasing potential for new and higher levels of joy.

We will learn things, as Adam and Eve learned in the original Garden. Randy Alcorn speculates that perhaps an Angel will tutor us in the things we would hope to know and do in the new world.

And we are there because of Christ, praise His glorious name. We have these new bodies (no broken knees, no flus), new faculties (no allergies), no lack of energy, no weariness, no lack of passion, new joys because of Christ. “Every perceptive faculty will be an inlet for delight.” New family, new intensities of holiness, new knowledge, new music, new science, new foods, new colors, new trees, new flowers, stars, forgotten animals, new vistas, new travels, new explorations, new planets, and no missed opportunities, with passing time, simply more to it. Maximized, exquisite pleasures. All this linked directly to the kindness of God, the work of Christ, and the power of the Spirit.

On earth, creation sings to us about the Creator. And those who serve the Lord hear the music and are pleased with its tune. In fact, it causes joyful worship and pleasure in God. In the age to come, we will hear that music and it will be even deeper, richer, purer than we’ve ever known, and thus our worship will be more joyful, and ever increasing. With no fear, like joys in this life, that they will ever end.

We will see Him. As long as He lives, we live. As long as He forgives, we are forgiven. As long as He works redemption, we are redeemed. And our joy unlimited as his glory is unlimited.

We’ve talked about it today. But we’ve just scratched the surface. We’ve just whispered it. What it is we can never fully describe.

Sufferer who is in trials, dangers, toils, and snares…. I’m trying to tell you what Isaiah 3:10 tells me to do: “Tell the righteous, that it will go well with them.” For there is “scarce anything that can be conceived or expressed about the degree of happiness of the saints in heaven.” J. Edwards

Let’s be bound for that Promised Land.

Dr. Ben Stubblefield is the Pastor of of FBC Jackson in Jackson, AL, and graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Auburn University.

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