God created a world that was perfect. He created mankind in His own image and with the ability to choose obedience or rebellion, fail, grow, and to learn what it means to become the children of God through the sacrifice of Christ. He allowed us to destroy His magnificent creation with our sin and rebellion and then provided the solution and the payment to redeem and restore us. This world won’t last forever, even atheistic scientists will tell you that.
So where do we go when we die? “To be absent from the body”, to die, for the believer, is to be “present with the Lord.” Where Jesus is now is where we will be when we die if we have a relationship with the Lord. The Bible also assures us that God intends to reveal to us in the future a New Heaven and a New Earth. Thankfully, in His great goodness, He not only gave us life and all the blessings of this created world, but through His unsearchable grace and mercy He will give to those who trust in Him, a New Heaven and a New Earth, untouched by sin and corruption where we can live in full fellowship with Him forever.
17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
I had a discussion with two young family members of mine this week about Heaven. Sometimes we forget how scary it can be for the young to hear that we will one day say goodbye to this world and enter another one. Anxiously, they asked me questions like: Will I know anyone in Heaven? What will it be like? Will I still have my friends? How will I know what to do? Does God look scary? The idea of eternity, of a new world ruled by God in person, a place where everything is new and unfamiliar is a bit overwhelming. So, here are the ground rules:
Nothing in God’s plan for a New Heaven and a New Earth is less or worse than what we have experienced of His goodness here. Everything there is better! What about marriage, you might say? If it is replaced by God with a heavenly counterpart, rest assured what He has prepared is better. What about my children? Well, the greatest love in our earthly existence is that of a parent and a child. How much more will our relationship grow in the presence of our heavenly father who designed the relationship? Everything, I repeat, in God’s eternity will be better. Nothing is lost, all is redeemed.
God took care of our anxious thoughts about “not knowing” when scripture says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” You will know what you need to know. Every frightening experience we have is made radically easier by the presence of a friend to walk along with you. It is no different in eternity. Our greatest friend, the one who sticks closer than a brother, will be our guide there. Ever present, ever loving, ever protective, we have nothing to fear with our hand in His.
This is what you were created for, to be in forever fellowship with the God who made you. Although the Bible tells us “ But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” We know that God will give us a new body and a new mind capable of being brought face to face with the glories of God. We can’t imagine what awaits, but I believe we’ll be more than satisfied and perfectly at home in the presence of our Savior.
18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
What do we know for sure about the places God has prepared for those who are born into the family of God? Very little, actually. If God told us everything we would not be able to handle it. What we do know is that our good Father has a purpose behind His design and that purpose is Joy. When you think of God, do you consider that it is His desire to bless you? That for His people, He has taken great pains to ensure that they will be happy and at home as well as able to completely enjoy Him in His fullness? When we all get home, the tears will be gone, our hearts will know longer cry out in pain in confusion caused by sin and separation from God. We will be “his people” in every sense of the word. It will all be joy!
20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
Isaiah is speaking of the millennial kingdom of God in this verse. It can be a confusing passage unless read along with its New Testament counterpart, the Book of Revelation. The order of events of the world goes something like this:
Creation of Israel and the Promises of God
Judgement and Captivity
Coming of Christ
Rejection of Christ
Resurrection of Christ
Birth of the Church
The Rapture of the Church
The Great Tribulation
The Victory and Millennial Kingdom of Christ which Restores Israel and Unites the Family of God
The End of this world and Final Judgement
The Beginning of the New Heavens and the New Earth
I know that list is an oversimplification and at the same time overwhelming and confusing to many. Know this, God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God has promised to rule and reign on this earth for l,000 years. In which time the nation of Israel, His intended audience for this passage in Isaiah, will be restored. During that time, there will still be death, but not as we know it now, because the fear of it and the dread of it has been removed. All things will be ruled by Christ, properly. This verse and the following verses speak of the peace and prosperity that will be given during that time
21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.
24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
Because of Sin in the world, our plans and our best efforts often come to nothing. We look around and know that this is not the way the world should be. Children should not die of cancer, marriages should not end in divorce. The people we love should not betray us. Our hard work and dreams should not be stolen by violent and evil men. We weren’t designed for pain, we were not intended for sorrow, God did not create us for suffering, but for good works. When you look around and feel overwhelmed because the world is not operating as you know in your heart it should, you are right about that. The problem is us and the chaos and sin that we chose over obedience to the God who made us. But, there will come a day, when on earth Jesus will be King, and He will show us how he intended for things to be. It will be glorious. For 1,000 years Christ will fulfill His will on this planet. Afterward, for all eternity He will rule and reign in fellowship with us in a New Heaven and a New Earth that He has prepared.
It’s a lot to take in, and that’s okay. Here’s the main idea. God is in control, He has had a plan from the beginning to bring as many as possible into an eternal fellowship with Him, His underlying purpose is to know, love, and bless with magnificent joy all those who love and obey Him. When we leave this Earth through death, or through the rapture, we will enter His presence where we will be kept forever, free from death, released from sorrow, blessed for eternity. So, we can look forward with joyful, confident expectation of what awaits a child of God. We can reject anxiety, fear, and confusion about the future because the one who knows what is coming is the one who is holding our hand.
Thank you for studying with us! God Bless!