If you want to know how much trouble we can get into for disbelieving very good news from the LORD, then look no farther than Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father. The angel Gabriel told him that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would have a child even in her old age. His son would be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from the womb, and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. Zacharias, surely overwhelmed at such a prospect, responded with something like, “Are you sure? Because my wife is very old.” For his unbelief, he was not able to speak until after John’s birth.
We shouldn’t think, “Oh, that naughty Zacharias, we wouldn’t do that.” He was a priest. He was called a righteous man. And he was burning incense in the temple, much like we are now when this whole affair took place. The tidings from Gabriel weren’t just medium-grade glad. They were cosmic glad. So are ours today from Isaiah’s prophecy.
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
God declares that he will create new heavens and a new earth (v. 17). He will create Jerusalem, rejoice in her, and banish her tears (v. 18-19). The child shall die at a hundred years old in this new creation, and sinners will be cursed (v. 20). But His chosen people will work and enjoy the labor of their hands (v. 21-22). The fruit they produce will not spoil because they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their children with them (v. 23). In this new creation, God will answer their requests before they even have the prayer meeting (v. 24). In this new heavens and new earth, peace reigns on the holy mountain of the LORD; the serpent eats the dust (v. 25).
I CREATE JERUSALEM
Many saints are quite familiar with the truth that God makes us new. He washes us. He replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh. In this, we rejoice and will continue to rejoice. But Isaiah tells us that God not only makes us new, but He also makes our surroundings new. He makes above us and below us new. He also makes a New Jerusalem.
Some want to push these new surroundings and the promises associated with them out to the end of the world at Jesus’ final coming. But we have sinners being accursed in this new heavens and new earth. We also have death. That signals to us that the new heavens and new earth which God creates have already come upon us with the first advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When Jesus came to earth, He came to cut a new covenant. The blood of that new covenant is like new wine. Christ said new wine requires new wineskins. Due to fermentation, old wineskins will burst if you put new wine in them. The old age could never handle what Christ came to do. He has come to save us, yes. And so look at yourself in the mirror and rejoice. And He has come to save the whole world. So take a look around and rejoice at just how widespread the glad tidings are.
PLANTING VINEYARDS, EATING FRUIT
In this new age, the promise is that we will build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. This is a potent promise, an AR-15 promise. So we really should make sure we know how to operate this one.
We are not permitted to take this promise and test God. “Ah, God said I will plant and eat the fruit, so I will plant in winter and reap in spring.” That is not faith talking. And faith is always the way the promises of God are appropriated.
Also, we may not mistake God for a cosmic vending machine. God’s promises are not fulfilled robotically. And they are not fulfilled impersonally. The promises we trust are not random road signs that we spot without knowing who hammered them into the ground. We trust the words of our Father.
With that said, He has told us that we will reap what we sow. We should labor with that confidence. “You will not be blessed in your doing,” is a lie. “Maybe you will be and maybe you won’t be but you just need to work anyway” is a more subtle form of the lie. You are not to simply work. You are to work in faith. And God has said that the fruit of your hands will not be eaten by your enemies.
AND THEIR OFFSPRING WITH THEM
In this new Jerusalem that God creates, He blesses His elect and their children. This is one of the clearest and most invigorating promises in a book full of promises—”they [mine elect] are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them” (v. 23).
There are two basic ditches to parenting. On one side, you abdicate your responsibility to train them, letting them run wild without instruction, correction, and parental intercession through prayer. On the other side, you attempt to assume the responsibility of teaching and discipline, but you do so as worried as a squirrel in a nutless world facing the encroachment of a long winter.
Both of these ditches are marked by the same lack of faith. Has God really said that your children are with you as seed of the blessed of the LORD? Why yes, yes He has.
BEFORE THEY CALL
In this new creation in which we find ourselves, God meets our needs before we ask. Where were you when the LORD came to you? In the grave. What were you asking Him for when you were six feet under in your sins? Nothing. The same sovereign grace that met us back then, keeps meeting us in this new heavens and new earth. The Christ who gave you life keeps giving you life. The Christ who saved you keeps saving you.
Your job is to grow to expect this without ever getting quite used to it. Look around, you are chest deep in the blessings of God. When you are standing there in the days to come neck deep in the blessings of God, go ahead and ask Him, “Lord what I have done to deserve this? I didn’t even ask for this much” His reply will be, “Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create” (Isaiah 65:18).