Quarantine Devotions at Home

                                                                                                 May  2+3,  2020  — 3rd  past Easter

Isaiah 66:22-24

    For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me,  says the Lord,  so shall your descendants and your name remain.  

    And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the LORD.

    And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me— for their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched.   They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

IT’S FOR KEEPS,  WITH CHRIST

   If on a bad winter’s day, you are stuck deep in the ditch, but a  helpful 4WD-driver with tow rope,  offers to pull you out, pull you to town, and keep you at his house during the storm, what would you think?    There’s not much to think, other than SAFETY!      On the other hand, if you would say,  Umm, No,  a) I like it in the ditch,   b) I have a shovel,   c) a friend of mine might come along,   you would  be there a long time.   Magnify the situation.   Let’s say, the results are for  KEEPS!    An extreme blessing  vs.  an extreme  sorrow!  ——    Such a dire situation is  presented in our text for  today.  It deals with human beings  and their  Savior Jesus.    This situation IS for KEEPS!    

   The verses of our text are the last three verses of the entire prophecy of Isaiah.   The prophet Isaiah had brought to God’s people a  harsh message of  “OR ELSE!”    Those who thumbed their noses at the LORD and went their own way, were on the doorstep of disaster!  The faithful, who trusted in God, though oppressed by their own sin and by ungodly brothers, would  be brought to safety.  

   Isaiah presents these two extremes side by side:

Isaiah 42:24  to 43:3     42:24-25 [TO UNBELIEVERS]   They would not walk in His ways, nor  were they obedient to His law.   Therefore He has poured on him [the unbeliever]  the fury of His anger and the strength of battle.  It has set him on fire all around . . . 43:1-3  [TO BELIEVERS]  But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel:  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

   The text presents the same set of extremes.    Isaiah is not just talking about events of his day for believer vs. unbeliever.   Nor is he talking about events of the not too distant future, that is, the  day of the defeat and destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and  the day of  the  release from captivity.   Isaiah in our text is talking about the very end of time.  He is speaking of  the Last Day. 

    On that day the believers will be safe forever.   But stop a moment.   What is a “believer”?   Is it someone who believes God exists, or “a god”  exists?  That there is a Supreme Being,  be it Allah, or Buddha, or the Great Spirit?   No.  Even the devil and the demons believe that God “exists,” but they  are not “believers.”    If someone says, “I believe in that old pick-up,”  he’s not just saying that he believes the pick-up exists.  He’s saying, whether it’s rain, or mud, or high water, or snow, or blizzard, or cold—that old pickup will get him through.   He trusts that machine, has faith in that machine.      To “believe” in God is likewise to trust, to have faith in, to believe,  that He will get you through every trouble.   What’s the worst trouble you face?   Your own disobedience and sin, by which you net the LORD’s  holy wrath and anger!  Yet in love  to spare you, the LORD has sent His Son Jesus, who was punished for you unto death, and then rose  in victory over all  your sins.   In Him your foolish disobedience is erased from the books, and covered over with whitest white-out.    “Believers” are those who trust in, have faith in, God and His Son, Christ the Savior from sin!

       For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me,  says the Lord,  so shall your descendants and your name remain.    This is the glorious outcome for the “believers” who cling to Christ for God’s peace!  When Jesus returns at the end of time, they shall endure before God!    They will not be cast away in anger and disgust, but will abide in the presence of the Lord.   When the LORD says,  “your descendants shall remain,” He is  not talking about the Jewish bloodline, but about all who trust in His Son for forgiveness, righteousness,  and life.  Through Jesus, all believers are “spiritual Israelites,”  members of God’s people, descended from Abraham.   For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is  circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and  circumcision is that of the heart (Romans 2:28-29).   Faith in Christ makes one a “child”  Abraham.    In Abraham all the families of the earth shall be [are] blessed! (Genesis 12:3) –forgiven in Christ!   You, the believer, will ever carry that name.   God’s love shall remain upon you.  Eternally!

   The new heavens and the new earth:    This is a bit of a mystery.  This is not the only place the Bible talks about the new heavens and the new earth.   It is left un-described and undefined.  We definitely know that at the End, all existing things will be destroyed.  The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. . .  (II Peter 3:10).    The heavens will pass away, be done,  like time that flits by, gone forever.  Similarly, the earth and its elements will be burned up—thoroughly, laid bare, gone.   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (II Peter 3:13).   Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17).   As the first heavens and earth were “created” out of nothing, how natural it is that the new heavens and the new earth will be “created” out of nothing.   Some maintain that this new creation will be made out of  the old material thoroughly burned and purified of all sin.  However, the simple words indicate a new creation.    Will this new creation  be  like the created world at the time of the Garden of Eden?   We don’t know.  Perhaps it will be  a different type of realm?  where we will “remain”  before Him.    But there is the  joy!  the peace!  the purity!  to remain in the presence of our God and Savior!    A wonderful  Extreme!

   In that joy  it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the Lord.     In that existence there will never be a time when  our hearts will be divided from God.   From  the beginning one month, marked by the new moon (no moon), to the next month,  our  hearts will be in harmony with  the LORD.   No separation from the LORD  by sin!  From one Sabbath to the next Sabbath,  all hearts will be at REST (sabbath)  with the LORD—consciences unburdened by sin, existences  uncorrupted and uncomplicated by guilt and death!   Perfect happiness forever!

    Then the other Extreme!    They shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me— for their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched.  They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.    Here is the eternal destruction and torment of the damned,  those cast away into  separation from every blessing of God.  They have despised His dear Son, the  precious  Savior.   The LORD does not and will not tolerate such offense against His mercy and compassion and  against His beloved, precious Son.   Whoever despises Me despises Him who sent Me, Jesus said  (Luke 10:16).  Indeed, God is Love (I John 4:8),  but God does punish those who do not love His love for them in Christ.  Just as an inventor can and will destroy an invention that does not meet his expectations no matter what he does to remedy it,  so God will destroy those who reject Him and His Son.   This destruction will not just be a passing-out-of-existence and then  no more.    This will be  an ongoing separation and an on-going torment.  The believers will  have an on-going peace and safety.   The unbelievers will have an on-going  anguish.   Their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched.    The “worm” of destruction and decay, like  the worms  that infested the  manna that the Israelites  tried to save for the next day,  will never be overcome.   The despisers of Christ, no matter how outwardly good they were on this earth,  will face  decay, destruction, fire, torment, that  will not end.    A harsh other Extreme. 

    And they [the believers]  shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me.    They [the damned]  shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.    Surprisingly  Isaiah says that those in God’s eternal presence, the Redeemed in Christ,  will be able to see and look upon  the mass of those cast away by God into the  suffering of  hell.    They will look upon them, stare at them,   just as David in Psalm 22 prophesied  that the enemies of Christ would watch and  stare at  the dying Savior:    They pierced My hands and My feet.  I can count all My bones.  They look and stare at Me.  They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots (Psalm 22:16-18).    The Redeemed in heaven will have no grief for those who scorned and scoffed at  the love of God and His only Mediator of Peace for sinners.   As hard as it may be  to imagine and understand now, the heart of the believer will not mourn those who allied themselves with Satan and were filled with contempt for the One who is  the dearest Savior.   In fact, it will  be part of the  peace of heaven  knowing that the vile despisers of the  most precious Savior and the vile servants of Satan who works for our destructions as well,  will get their day.      These rejecters will be an abhorrence to the Redeemed.   Yuk.   “How could these foolish hearts have despised my Lord?!   How could these foolish souls have rejected the opportunity to be “towed out of the ditch, drawn safely through the storm of life, and be kept in heaven?   How could they have missed  that this was for KEEPS?   Shame on them.”   Two very different Extremes! 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16).     Cling to Jesus!  AMEN!