Faith Over Fear | Hope Forever | Isaiah 65:17-25
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Isaiah 65:17–65:25
Christopher Rich – March 29, 2020
Faith Over Fear
PART II | Hope Forever | Isaiah 65:17-25
Introduction | What is true?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series during this season of Global pandemic and local lockdowns called Faith Over Fear where we are pursuing where true peace can be found in the midst of panic. What is true? We turn worry into worship when we remember what is true.
1: God is Good, Mighty, Loving, Wise, and is in control. He is not surprised by any of this, and He is not overwhelmed. He is active in world events and is engaged in your individual story.
2: We (you) are known and loved by God in Christ Jesus. He knows your circumstances, and has not forgotten His promises, so we have a hope that is imperishable, that cannot be contained or restricted.
3: This is a challenging chapter, and while we do not know how long it is, we know it’s not the last chapter. The Story ends very well with Jesus return and reign making all things new with no sin, sickness, darkness, disease, or death. Our forever future is better than our present pain. That is what I want to talk about today. I want us to see where we are going so we can have Hope now in the wilderness for glorious forever city!
Before we get to the hope at the end of the story we need to understand where we are in the story.
Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God made everything, and the end of chapter 1 it says God made it “very good”. God dwelled with humanity in a garden where He ruled and we were called to steward and be fruitful and multiply. We were give a very simple yet significant command to refrain from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil being reminded of our limits and dependency. Very quickly things fall apart we rebele from God’s reign an chooses to believe a lie from the enemy, in the form of a serpent, that God does not want what is best for us, that He is holding out on us and that God will not punish or give consequences for disobedience. Sin and brokenness enter God’s good world and it’s a virus that infects everything and brings death and destruction wherever it’s active. We were is separated from God, exiled from the garden and source of eternal life with God. God promises salvation will come, one who will crush the serpent and kill death. Human history is now defined by cycles of us wondering literally and figuratively through desert and wilderness separated from God, turning back to God, only to rebel again and again. Don’t you feel like we’re in a bit of wilderness? Your disoriented and we don’t know when or how this season ends? While never detached from or ceasing to guide/direct His creation, God directly intervenes and enters into history 2,000 years ago in person of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, savoir of His people and King of Heaven. He lives the perfect life all of us have failed to live, dies the death we all justly deserve on the cross buying His people back from the wrath of sin, (think about that, we have a God who endures excruciating suffering on our behalf so we can have joy and hope forever), we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, rising again 3 days later proving His power over the enemy, sin and death, ascended into Heaven promising to return to final judge the world, ushering in a new heavens and earth, free from sin, brokenness, and death; where God and His people dwell forever in a grand city. This is the story of scripture, Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. Our part of the journey starts in a Garden, goes though exile in the dessert/wilderness, and by Jesus work on the Cross brings us back to God as we now journey towards a glorious city. We are not there yet, we’re in tension.
PART I | Forgetting the Former |Isaiah 65:17
Isaiah :25-26 | “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. We can have Hope today no matter how dark it gets when we know what the future holds. He says look, behold, marvel. We need a new heavens and new earth because this one is broken and stained with sin. We all should have a holy discontentment with the world we are currently in. Is anyone satisfied with the condition of things now? While there is much beauty to enjoy, much pleasure to experience, deep relationship to be had with individuals and our communities, but so much of that has been taken away so we are yearning for a return to “normal” but our “normal” wasn’t that great! I don’t want to get back to “normal”, I want to get back to “better”! We also need to recognize in order for a new heavens and new earth to be truly new with no crying, pain, or mourning there are things in this world and in our lives that need to pass away, be forgotten, grief that needs to be processed, and if it’s better forever future then it never to come back into our consciousness. Former things are not remembered or come to mind. Not whitewashed over, but erased for our joy.
Forgetting the former is amazing news for sinners. Even now 16 years of walking with Jesus for occasionally lightning bolts sin and shame will strike into my consciousness and shake the foundation of what God has been building in my life. I will hear a lie that I am not truly changed and that I am defined by my sin rather than my Savior. Those are painful moments as I realize the enemy and my own flesh seek to bind me back in the chains of sin. I praise God this is not an eternal state of being. Our sin will not be remembered any longer. Our guilt will no longer limit our joy.
Forgetting the Former is good news for those who have been sinned against. Those who have suffered abuse at the hands of another, who struggle to trust, who constantly face “triggers” in this life reminding them of what they experienced, will have real lasting freedom from the stains of sins committed against them. Former things not coming to mind gives us the ability to fully experience truly safe relationship with others completely vulnerable because we don’t have to worry about memories of abusive experiences coming to the surface. They are not buried, they are washed clean. WThere is no lasting hope in a future where pain’s shadow is still cast over our lives, our identities, and our relationships with others in this new city.
Forgetting the former is good news for those who have experienced first-hand the brokenness of this world serving on the front lines of death, destruction, humanities hatred of one another played out in large and small scales. For many soldiers, nurses, EMTs, police officers, other first responders, they have images/scenes they have witnessed seared into their memories. They “come into mind” during quite moments, when left alone with their thoughts, they can haunt them in their dreams. This can leave them detached in the here and now. Not in what is to come, those images will be powerless to haunt as they are not able to be remembered. There will be no sense of loss (or hole) they merely will not come to mind; they will be gone.
PART II |Built for Joy | Isaiah 65:18-19
Isaiah 65:18-19 | 18 But 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. 19 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. I want more that not remembering the bad that is just meh news not good news. It is not enough for us to merely forget the sins of this world, having them in the rearview mirror or not remembered at all. Rather than mourning the distant past, weeping over fresh hurts, or fearing and crying out for deliverance from present or future distress, God says don’t morn or fear “But be glad and rejoice forever!” God isn’t making a new heavens and new earth that is dull and defined merely by the absence of suffering but by the presence of great Joy. We see many images in scripture of a grand wedding feast, powerful worship services, rivers, trees, food, gardens, godly activities on the scale of the greatest city every conceived. God is the creator of joy, pleasure, and life. He is a creative creator and all that has been given us to enjoy in this world is but an incomplete sampling of what is in store for us in the new city. This new heavens/earth is great because God creates it! It is good news to know that we are not the ones directly responsible for creating this new city. We have proven time and time again our inability to create anything of lasting success or true peace. This is not some man made utopian ideal designed with either “good” or “bad” intentions that even when starting with promise always ends up producing pain. God creates this new future for a purpose, and that purpose is joy, both ours and His! Our joy because we will finally live in a place where the infinitely good God of the Universe perfectly displays His prescience rule and reign complete devoid of any corruption from man’s sin. Because there is no sin there, God fully rejoices in His people without grief over their sin or the need for just wrath for their sin. God creates “Jerusalem” a holy perfect city of God dwelling with His people and the result is pure Joy for all who are present! That is better than now!
PART III | Justice and the End of Senselessness | Isaiah 65:20
Isaiah 65:20 | No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. Joy is only possible in this new city because true justice has been served and tragedy is not in the realm of possibility. There is something jarring about suffering and death that appears senseless or premature. Life there won’t be senseless and meaningless. Let’s be clear, there is NO death in the new heavens and new earth. (Rev 21:4) The concept here is the fullness of life with no unfulfilled potential, no sudden end. But there will be justice. Ecclesiastes reflects the reality of this world where the “righteous” suffer and the “wicked” are able to prosper. There are universal injustices we see and experience and we are told these will be no more. None of us are righteous that is why we need Jesus! Sinners will be punished, regardless of if they live long and prosper in this world. Either Justice is poured out on the cross through Jesus or poured out in eternal wrath. Those who reject Jesus will be given their desire and will experience eternity apart from God. There will be full, robust life for those in Christ that will not be cut short but will live forever!
PART IV | Work for Joy | Isaiah 65:21-22
Isaiah 65: 21-22| 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. As difficult a concept as justice might be to swallow the concept of a good, perfect, joyful eternity that includes work might be even more difficult for us to wrap our heads around. In our world we know work is often experienced as painful toil, is can seem mundane, unrewarding, on the edge of failure especially now.
Gen 2:15 |The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
This is before the Fall! God has always from the beginning put work as a purpose in our lives. Heaven is not a vacation or a retirement from this world, it is a world where our work is never toil or cursed. In the new earth we get to enjoy the fruit for our labors. We’re all going to be self-employed in this new city. It is even more amazing that while God is the creator of new heavens and new earth, of the holy city, His means of creation includes us participating in the building of the city, of the planting of our own food. We are all going to have immense ownership in the kingdom. Our labor is for our own benefit. This may sound selfish but there is no greed and no poverty in this new world. There is something great about getting to enjoy work you’ve produced. We’ll get to have the journey of planting and building. Sometimes the Joy is not just in the finished product but in the enjoyment of the journey. Earlier in Isaiah 9:6-7 we see the Prince of Peace (King Jesus) will have a government that will never cease to increase. This means the new Jerusalem will be a city that will continue to grow and grow meaning it’s a constant work in progress, yet progressing from perfect to perfect, and we get to participate in its growth! This is amazing! We were made for a purpose, we will never be deemed “non-essential” in the kingdom of God! Our labor will not be in vain, our work will not be undone. What we do will not be taken by governments, our labor will not be used to increase shareholder’s wealth. When we work it will be something that will succeed and will last. How hard would you work at something, and how much Joy would you take if you knew what you were doing was going to be successful and it was going to last. All of our work will lead to greater joy!
PART V | Forever Family | Isaiah 65:23-24
Isaiah 65:23-24 |They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. We will be in God’s family, adopted as sons and daughters. We will have brothers and sisters we deeply care about. We will have relatives, ancestors, and decedents, connected in one heavenly family. We will have God as not only our king but our loving Father. Despite is great size despite how many people are there we see what type of personal individual relationship God the Father with His infinite capacity to love and engage with his people. He will answer our questions and petitions before we even before we ask them yet he will still listen to us as we talk with and too him. God, listens, hears, and knows. He anticipates our needs we even before we know what they are, and fulfills them perfectly in ways we would never imagine; acting more graciously then we would ever dare consider asking for.
PART VI |Jesus Crushes the Serpent |Isaiah 65:25
Isaiah 6:25 | The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the Lord. In the new heavens and new earth, the lions do not prowl they do not roar. Lions and wolves don’t stalk prey they sit down and eat with them. Their fangs are removed their power is now peaceful. God deals with our sin, and how he plots a path of peace through our wilderness exile into this glorious new heavens and new earth though the work of His Son Jesus on the Cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. It is a city of peace because of the victory over evil! God’s victory comes through what looks like defeat, on the cross. It was on the Cross that the offspring of a women was bruised, but it was in the resurrection where Jesus emerges from the tomb in victory over satan, sin, and death. The head of the serpent is crushed. Jesus works, Jesus wins and we reap the benefit and victory. Jesus builds a place for us to dwell. We get the benefit of his work. Jesus did not labor in vain; Jesus work on the cross secures victory for his people and new future. Because Jesus was hurt and destroyed on a holy mountain, on the cross we can be promised a future free from distress, calamity, tragedy, weeping, and death. This is only possible because of the cross. So while we wait for this new heavens and new earth we can know Jesus is preparing a place for many. We take hope in the here and now that God’s promises are being worked out by Jesus and he will lead us there.
John 14:1-6 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but in Christ we know the one who hold tomorrow so today Trust Jesus!
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