April 28, 2011
Psalm 124, 125, 126, Is. 65:17, Rev. 1:4-18
Psalm 110, 114, Zeph. 3:14, Jn. 21:1-14
This morning’s passage in Isaiah, like last night’s must be understood in light of its preceding verse, in this case, Isaiah 65:16, especially the words, “because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from my eyes.” The “former troubles” are the conquests and tribulations of the Jews, which God allowed them to suffer because of their sins. They are “forgotten” and “hid” because they are forgiven and God remembers them no more. Rather than remember their sins, God promises a time and place that will be entirely new. Enemies will not attack it, disease will not plague it, and the lifespan of God’s people will be like the lifespan of a tree. God will answer their prayers before they are even voiced, and the peace in the land will be such that former enemies, like the wolf and the lamb, shall be as friends. In other words, all the effects of the Fall and sin will be gone, and the world will be as it was in the beginning. Even people will be different. They will not make war, they will not steal or oppress one another. They will live in peace with one another and in unity with God.
This new era is prefigured in the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. In a sense, their return is yet a further revelation of the coming of that Day. Since the Fall God has been working in His way and at His pace to bring the world back into Himself through our Lord Jesus Christ. Seth, Noah, Abraham, the Exodus, and the release of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, are shadows and revelations of this new and restored earth. They are also steps toward its full inauguration. Each step is itself a furtherance of that Day, and, in a sense, participates in it. Each step gives a foretaste of the glory of the Day of the Lord, and in each step that Day is here, yet not here in fullness. Each step is like the dawn of a new day, growing brighter each moment, yet not here in its full glory yet. Like the morning of the day of a great event, the day is here, but we have not experienced the fullness of its promise yet.
This new Day will see a new heaven and a new earth, but it will also be the land of a new Israel. The profane and the unbelieving, though they be of the physical seed of Abraham, cannot enter. Only the renewed children of Abraham by faith will be in the new creation on that Day.
The Church is another step in the progress towards that Day. It is the new Israel, the children of Abraham by faith in Christ. The promises to Israel in the Old Testament are being fulfilled in the Church of the New Testament. And yet, that Day is not here in fullness. We also await it, as the Jews in Isaiah 65 awaited their release from Babylon. As with the old Israel, so it is in the new Israel, that the tares will one day be removed, and the faithful and fruitful “wheat” will be gathered into Christ to enjoy Him in the final and complete fullness of the new creation.