Last month, when we began to consider this prophecy by Isaiah, we saw that the final ‘new creation’ consummated at the second coming of Christ will be the last of four ‘new creations’.
The first creation was that of the material heaven and earth, with all it implies for the purpose of mankind and our relationship with God.
The second ‘new creation’ was the birth of Jesus Christ into this world to be the Saviour of sinners. Of this event Jeremiah declares: ‘The Lord has created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall compass a man’ (31:22).
We now turn to the third ‘new creation’ — the regeneration, or raising to life, of those ‘dead in trespasses and sins’.
All things new
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 5:17: ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’.
This is the sure and inevitable consequence of our Saviour’s incarnation, obedience, and death as our Substitute. All for whom he lived and died are made new creatures by grace through faith in him.
Notice firstly that all believers are ‘in Christ’. They are in his hands as our Surety; in his loins as our Representative; in his heart as our great High Priest; in his body as our Mediator.
They are accepted in him; justified in him; sanctified in him; ascended in him; and glorified in him.
It follows, secondly, that if we are in Christ by grace, we are ‘new creatures [or creations]’ in Christ.
Isaiah anticipates this spiritual ‘new creation’: ‘And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
‘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’ (Isaiah 65:24-25).
New record, new relationship
When a person is born again by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit, he is given a new nature, a new heart and a new will — Christ is formed in him! There is a parallel here with the first creation, when ‘God said “let there be light”; and there was light’ (Genesis 1:2).
In regeneration, declares Paul: ‘God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
However, a strict interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:17 must make it refer not just to our present condition but to our perfect ultimate redemption by Christ. John tells us: ‘Beloved, now we are children of God; [but] it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed we shall be like him’ (1 John 3:2).
During this life, sadly, our old nature has not yet passed away — but our old record has! We now have a new record before God. In Christ all things have become new for us!
We are the beneficiaries of a New Covenant. We have been given a New Name. We have a New Record, even the righteousness of Christ. There is a New Relationship between the sinner and his Saviour, the child and his heavenly Father.
God created the world to be the stage on which he would accomplish our redemption. He created the human nature of Christ so that he could be our Redeemer. He created us anew in Christ because he has redeemed us by his blood.
But the work is not over yet. As we saw last month, in the last day, at God’s appointed time, he will destroy this present earth and create all things new.
The fourth creation
This is the message of our text: ‘Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 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. 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’ (Isaiah 65:17-19).
What a great and glorious prospect this is! Our God declares that when he has finished with us; when he has created new heavens and a new earth; when our salvation is complete and consummate; we will enter into an everlasting joy that will eclipse all the joys we have known in this world.
He bids us rejoice now in the anticipation of the joy awaiting us in eternity.
Notice that ‘the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind’. Our sins will not be remembered against us, for Christ has purged them totally (Hebrews 1:3). Nor will we remember them as a cause of sadness. In that great and glorious day, our God will make us perfectly joyful.
Furthermore, he himself will rejoice over us: ‘For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee’ (Isaiah 62:5).
Again, Zephaniah 3:17 proclaims: ‘The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing’.
In that great and glorious new creation, God will wipe all tears from the eyes of his people for ever! Listen to the apostle John:
‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
‘And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away’ (Revelation 21:1-4).
There will be no tears in heaven to mar God’s new creation! No tears over past sins; nor over failures, losses, bad experiences, or lost loved ones. Not even over those who, in their unbelief, are eternally condemned.
Why not? Because ‘God himself’ will be with us, and Christ will be our husband and our joy for ever.
Consider one more passage relating to this new creation. ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and … the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
‘Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God…? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
‘Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless’ (2 Peter 3:10-14).
Overwhelmed with the hope and expectation of this new creation, I wrote this hymn in joyful anticipation of that great and glorious day.
Behold, what glory shall appear
To our awak’ning eyes!
The earth and sea shall pass away
And God divide the skies!
The Church descends from heav’n above,
Adorned, all white with grace,
The New Jerusalem comes down,
Bride to the Prince of Peace!
Heaven and earth shall pass away,
All former things shall cease.
Omnipotence creates for us
A world of righteousness.
Tenderly, God shall dry our tears
And weeping will be o’er
For sins, and pains, and griefs, and fears,
And death shall be no more!