“See, I will created new heavens and a new earth.”
The Jews were the only ancient people who didn’t believe in the immortality of the ‘soul’. Because they believed in the Creator God, they believed in the resurrection of the body - and a physical new creation. Floating around on clouds in togas … that’s got nothing to do with Christianity. (Phew.) But why do we need to know about the “new heavens and the new earth”? What difference does it make to us now?
If we are praying (as in Isaiah 64) for God to intervene and do something, God’s answer is, ‘I will. And I am doing something. I’m going to re-create the whole thing.’ The point is, understanding our future is the thing that makes the most difference to now.
That works on the small scale. If you have something to look forward to, it changes life now. A holiday coming up, or something to work towards - it gives joy to things now as you look forward in anticipation. Nelson Mandela could turn 20 years in prison into well-spent time because he had a future hope and plans.
Our eternal future is described in the rest of Isaiah 65. The new heavens and the new earth will be where nothing is cut short. No plans are frustrated. No work is futile. Traditional enemies are friends. Read it through - soak it in - and then see how it changes us:
It stops us having to have the good things in this life. We all seek satisfaction in things like money, success, possessions, marriage. They are good things, but never give ultimate satisfaction. But If we know we will have total satisfaction for ever, missing out on such things now matters very little. I may die alone, a loser in the world’s eyes. It doesn’t matter. I may miss the chance to travel, or marry, or have wealth. It doesn’t matter. We can sit loose to all those things.
It stops us chasing the wrong things in life. Thinking about that means some things now are simply not worth bothering with - an utter waste of time.
It stops us doubting God's plans for us in life. We get overwhelmed with our circumstances. But this truly answers the prayer of chapter 64: God says, ‘Just step back from the trees and see the wood. It's all working out to this end. And then get back to the details and keep praying for them - but with the assurance I have got it all in hand.’
What a relief.