November 18, 2007
II Thessalonians 3:6-13
A New Heaven and A New Earth
After this week, just one week remains in this church year. Again, this week focuses on the life to come — on the promise that Christ went back to heaven to prepare a place for those who are his followers. The prophet Isaiah reminds us there is a time coming when everything will be made new — there will be a new heaven and a new earth and no one will be able to remember the old, and there will be no sounds of weeping and crying there. We are given many promises in these few verses.
Instead of a Psalm this week, we have another passage from Isaiah.
1 In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. 2 See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”
3 With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! 4 In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! 5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. 6 Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”
What a wonderful song we will be able to sing on that day. It is also a song that we can sing today and I think it’s appropriate for the week before Thanksgiving Day here in America.
However, the apostle Paul warns those who are lazy, especially when it comes to the Lord’s coming and the new heaven and new earth. There were those in the first century who thought that the coming was near and they didn’t have to do anything — Paul tells us to never weary of doing good. Church we need to be ever vigilant as Christ return draws near — we must continue to do good and build the Kingdom of God. I know that the Kingdom of darkness is not giving up, so neither should we who are a part of the Kingdom of Light give up — Keep pressing on.
To finish this up, we are warned by Jesus that bad times are coming and that the church we be part of it. I don’t want to get into a lot of end times theory, but if we look at this scripture seriously, Jesus warns the believers that they will suffer persecution — they will suffer tribulation. I know that’s not a popular belief. Just recently, I saw a clip of a well known television preacher who said with no doubt in his mind, “The church will not go through the tribulation.” I guess that means we are going to have to apologize to all the martyrs who have given their lives for Christ over the last two thousand years. I want to say, “Who do we think we are that we will excape persecution?” (Yes, I guess maybe I’m tired of this type of escapist thinking!)
Jesus says, ” 12 But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.”
The day is coming — there will be a new heaven and a new earth — there will be a time when all weeping will cease — we need to persevere — we need to continue to do Kingdom work — the church can not be lazy — and we need to be ready for the increasing antagonism toward the work we do — but do not be discouraged — do not lose heart — never go tired of doing good — for there is a great reward for those who follow Christ and do as he commands. Carp Diem!