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Isaiah 65:17-25 (Old Testament Reading for Easter Sunday)
17 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 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. 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. 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 enjoy1 the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity,1 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. 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.
Pastors are often asked about what heaven will be like. Children and adults alike are curious what we will, in fact, receive as our eternal inheritance on the Last Day. Sometimes the questions are silly: “Will there be baseball there?” Sometimes the questions are more serious: “Will my loved ones know me?” Some of the questions can be answered: “Will we have bodies?” (Yes, in fact—see Phil. 3:21 & 1 Cor. 15). And some of the questions can’t be answered: “Which version of my body will I have?”
It is good that we desire to know what heaven will be like. For Christians, this desire flows from a trust in God’s promise to give to His people an eternal dwelling place. And the Scriptures do give us glimpses into the new creation. God’s Word reveals pictures of what the new heavens and the new earth will be like. The Bible allows us a glimpse of what remains hidden today, but what will be fully realized in the resurrection.
The above passage is one of those pictures. And like any picture, it provides some of the information, but not all of it. You might think of it like searching for a new house. You can read the MLS fact sheet. You can research the home’s history. Most sellers make numerous photographs available for you to look at. And who would purchase a home without having it inspected? All of these sources of information provide some detail about the house. Each will reveal something about the home you are considering. But until you have moved in you won’t have all your questions answered.
That’s how it is with heaven, and the promised new creation. In Isaiah 65, our LORD gives us a glimpse of what our eternal home will be like. It’s a picture, so it doesn’t reveal everything; but what it does reveal is wonderful.
· We will not be troubled with memories of the current, sinful and broken world (v. 17).
· It will be a joy, and those who inhabit it will be glad (v. 18).
· There will be no pain and sorrow (v. 19).
· Death will not exist. Nobody—young or old—will ever taste its sting again (v. 20).
· Our work will be blessed: we will have a house, and the land will produce (v. 21-22).
· We will be one family, the Children of the LORD (v. 23).
· We will be in perfect communion with our LORD, with perfect conversation (v. 24).
· Those who were aggressive (the Lions) and took advantage of the weak (the Lambs) will dwell together in peace (v. 25).
In short, the paradise of our Lord’s first creation, will be restored in the new creation. And all of it is true, we know, because the resurrected Jesus is the first of many brothers (and sisters) to receive this inheritance. Jesus is the first-fruits of those who will also inherit this new creation.
If you desire to know what heaven will be like? Our Lord has given us a wonderful glimpse. And while He waits to reveal all the details, you can be sure, that what you discover when you arrive, will only continue to be more of the same: a new creation, a perfect existence, a life which will be yours with the risen Lord forever.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Lord God, You who are quick to hear and answer the prayers of Your people, hasten the day when we will in enjoy the fullness of Your new creation (TLSB, p. 1197).
Rev. Gregory R. Truwe
Concordia Lutheran Church