For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
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.
They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.
Okay, so my idealized vision of the new heavens and the new earth will always include a beach scene! Yes, it will. And this gem of a passage from the prophet Isaiah is one of my favorite apocalyptic words ever. That’s a style, you know. A literary genre, not a scary, dystopian vision for the future, but a promise of great and glorious things to come. Too often, we use the word ‘apocalypse’ to describe something hellish and terrifying. But in reality, it is good news. Truly good news.
It’s a word that says this is not all there is. It’s a word that tells us to look forward with hope. It’s a word of promise, of beauty, even of joy. And joy is the thread that weaves its way throughout these verses, don’t you think?
Right here, at the one-third mark of our journey through Lent, we have the good gift of a passage that centers on JOY. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Read this through several times. Highlight the words or phrases that speak most strongly to you of joy, of promise, of hope. Then tuck those words into your Bible, or your notebook, or your heart and take them with you as we continue to walk together to the cross. They will be good companions on the way, I promise. The best.
Lord of Joy, thank you for Isaiah’s words today at the two-week mark. Thank you for this picture of glory, of wholeness, of fruition. Help us to cling to this picture when life today feels hard. Help us hold onto hope. Thank you.