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Isaiah 65:17-25 1
17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.

Background

Isaiah is asking each of us to look forward to a new heaven and new earth. Our former world, will be the one filled with confusion, sin and miseries of the human race and all of these will no longer be remembered or even happen again. It will be a new world. A “ever more” happy state of the church is described here by a variety of images. Christianity, our beliefs, will be based on a world that has no violence or evil.  In those happy days, all God’s people will enjoy the fruit of their labors. No longer will children be a trouble for their parents, or even suffer trouble themselves. The evil personalities of sinners will be in such contrast, that it will even frighten the sinners to live in perfect harmony with us. Therefore, the church on earth will be full of happiness, just like heaven. This prophecy assures us, the servants of Christ, that as the end time approaches, we will be blessed with the undisturbed enjoyment of all that is needful for our happiness. As workers together with God, we are called to respect God’s authority and obey His commands. Happy days are coming!

The mention of creating “new heavens and a new earth” takes us back to the opening chapters of Genesis where, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). With each act of creation, God pronounced the creation good, but the introduction of sin in Genesis 3 defiled the good creation—nothing has been the same since. But God is going to redeem the situation by creating “new heavens and a new earth.” This does not mean that he is going to destroy what exists and begin anew from nothing. This is to be a transformation more like the rebirth to which Jesus alludes in his conversation with Nicodemus (John 3).

What’s going to be different in this new world?

  • Weeping will turn to rejoicing
  • An infant that lives a few days translates to a person who lives to be old
  • An old person dying early changes to an old person living beyond a hundred years
  • Build and another inhabits what you built to build and you inhabit
  • Plant and another eats your harvest changes to you plant and eat your own harvest
  • People labor in vain, work itself, changes to let people enjoy the work of their hands
  • Bear children for calamity, having children only to have them suffer, changes to our offspring are blessed by the Lord
  • Unanswered prayers are always answered prayers
  • Violence disappears and we have peace

Items for Discussion

  • When you think about what a perfect world will be like, what visions do you see?
  • What in God’s eternal world are your hopes? Are any different than what Isaiah is foretelling?
  • In the Book of Isaiah’s description, we get a picture of a very physical place – How might this be different than what we call heaven? How is it the same?
  • What is Isaiah’s message to those who believe?
  • What reassurances do you see in these verses for people who are alive today?

Luke 24:1-12
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Background

The first thing we see is the affection and respect the women showed to Christ, even after He was dead and buried. We also need to pay attention to their surprise when they found the stone rolled away and the grave empty.  As Christians, we often do the same, worry about the wrong thing. They went looking to find their Master in His grave-clothes; they were not searching for angels in their shining garments. The angels assure them that He is risen from the dead; risen by his own power. These angels from heaven are not bringing a new gospel message. They are simply reminding the women of Christ’s own words, and are attempting to teach them how to apply them to their own lives.

We may wonder why these disciples, who believed Jesus to be the Son of God and the true Messiah, who had been told so often that He must die, and rise again, and then enter into His glory with God, who had seen Him more than once raise the dead, were so surprised and found it so hard to believe now that He raised Himself from the dead. We too make the same mistakes in our faith. It manifests itself from ignorance or forgetfulness of those same words Christ has spoken to both the women and to us. Peter now ran to the grave. Not so long ago, Peter ran from his Master. Peter was amazed. There are many things about God and Christ that are puzzling and perplexing to us. All of this would become so very plain and simple if we made it our life’s pursuit to just understand the words of Christ.

Items for Discussion

  • How would you explain the risen Christ to your best friend?
  • What makes Christ’s words so difficult for people to understand?
  • What reassurances do you see in these verses?

Discussion Challenge

  • Why is it so hard for some to understand that through God’s grace, we are forgiven and through the belief in Christ’s words and example we become eternal?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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