Isaiah 65: 17-25
All Things New
Sunday of the Fulfillment
Focus: God’s new creation has begun in his people the Church.
Function: that the hearers would rejoice in what God has created.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The text for today’s message is the Old Testament reading. Let me read a portion of it now: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.”
Dear friends in Christ,
At first glance, this section of Scripture does not seem to be describing anything we know. Is Milwaukee a new heaven or a new earth? Is this world something we want to forget? Where is all the rejoicing? What in the world is Isaiah talking about?
My great-grandmother lived to be 98, but I don’t have any family members that have lived to be a hundred. I surely don’t know anyone that has lived well beyond the century mark. And yet, this is the world that Isaiah describes. What is Isaiah talking about?
Today there are support groups for parents who have lost infants to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. And yet, on this Sunday of fulfillment, we hear the prophet Isaiah describe a new heaven and a new earth, where there will be no “infant who lives but a few days.” Here Isaiah describes a world that is glorious. One that produces. One that gets along. Here Isaiah describes a world we all want to be a part of. Where is this world Isaiah is talking about?
Our text is near the end of his book, and Isaiah has spoken much judgment. He has been the bearer of bad news. He has foretold the wrath of God, and the punishment that sinful people would experience. In fact, even in this same chapter, he speaks harsh words of a just God. “I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps—both your sins and the sins of your fathers.” Oh yes, the prophet Isaiah spoke of a mighty judgment. And yes, to those who turned from God, who worshiped other Gods, or simply ignored God’s will, there was to be a great and mighty judgment.
But Isaiah also had another message. Isaiah also had a message to deliver to the people of God—to the people who believed in the promises of God—to the people blessed by God. This is the message we hear in our text. This is a message of Gospel. This is a message of hope. This is a message to write home about, to rejoice about, to sing praises about. And this is a message that continues today. This is a message that makes all things new.
No, my friends. I hate to break it to you. Milwaukee, WI is not the new heaven or the new earth that God has created. As much as we appreciate the green and gold of Packer football, the green forests of the dells, and the great cheese this state produces, what Isaiah is describing in our text is something more glorious. Isaiah is describing the Salvation that is given to God’s faithful people. While we all deserve to hear the message of judgment and punishment delivered by Isaiah to unbelievers, God’s message to us is one of Gospel. It is one of hope. It is one of new creations. It is one that makes all things new.
Isaiah is talking about a Salvation that lasts forever. Isaiah is describing God’s work of Salvation and the blessings that pour out of it. Isaiah is describing the blessings that God’s people receive.
You see, the message of Salvation has always been about new things. The message of Salvation has revolved around God’s creation, and his re-creation, or new-creation. But my friends, this Salvation is not something far off, that we are waiting to partake of. This Salvation is not something God wants you to hear about, but not to experience. God does not show you the menu, and the great pictures of the feast, and now let you enjoy the goods. This marvelous gift of Salvation has become a reality in our lives. This Salvation is something to rejoice about. This Salvation, makes all things new.
I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” You all, people of Gospel Lutheran Church have been washed in the waters of Baptism, and into Christ. My friends, you were crucified with Christ. Your sinful Adam has been killed—has been put to death right there on the cross. So also, death no longer has mastery over you. You have been freed from sin. You are alive in Christ. You are spared the message of judgment that Isaiah spoke. That’s right, Salvation has begun. Your eternal life is a reality. You will live forever!
All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ, and today, on this Fulfillment Sunday, we recall the Salvation that Christ has won for his people—The Church. Right here, at Gospel Lutheran Church, in Milwaukee, WI, people are living as newly created beings. God has created you to be his people—the Church. And so, today, we pause to see the blessings pouring out of God’s Salvation. We pause to see what we have to rejoice about, what we have to sing praises about. What things God has made new.
First of all, we have already spoken about the waters of Baptism. But look around, these are your eternal brothers and sisters. These people have been washed in the waters of Baptism. They have been baptized into Christ. These are the people who you will live with forever. These are the people you will experience the new heaven and the new earth with. This is the church!
But God continues to work and to do his will in all of you. When you come forward to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ--to experience Immanuel, God with us, in a real and powerful way—God is making all things new. Christ is alive in you, in us, in his Church.
This is a powerful message. This is a message to write home about. This is a message to rejoice about, to sing praises about. This is the message of Salvation. And in your hymns, when the choirs sing, when the youth raise their voices, they are proclaiming that message of Salvation. The same message the prophet Isaiah spoke so long ago. God is making all things new.
The Word is a powerful way in which God makes things new. When the Scriptures are read from the lectern, when Pastor Haney shares the Word of God in his sermons, or when you dig into the Scriptures in Bible classes, God is making all things new.
I remember the first time I ever worshiped here at Gospel. I had just gotten the job to be the youth director, and I was a bit nervous. I had just recently met Pastor Haney. I had met a few of the youth one evening, but that was about it. I didn’t really know you all. And yet you all touched me that Sunday morning. God was doing his work through you all, the church. Through your words, and your touch, God was making all things new. Every one of you made sure to shake my hand, and share God’s peace with me. You all made sure to tell me about God’s peace. You all shared with me that eternal Salvation. So I say to you, today, “Peace be with you!” God has made you his children. Your sins have been forgiven. You will live forever! God has made you new!
You see, here at Gospel Lutheran Church, God makes all things new. He has made Salvation a reality in your lives. While we hold on to the memories of this world, he remembers your sins no more. Before you call on him, he answers you. While you are still speaking your prayers, he hears you. This is the message of Salvation that Isaiah delivered to God’s faithful people. This Salvation is yours today, here at Gospel Lutheran Church. Here at Gospel Lutheran Church Salvation is experienced.
My great-grandmother lived to be 98 years old. She didn’t make it to the century mark. She surely didn’t live well past the age of a hundred. But her eternal life was only beginning. Milwaukee surely isn’t the new creation that Isaiah is speaking of. It has its share of cloudy days. But there are people in Milwaukee that are experiencing the peace that passes all understanding. These are people that know the joys of God’s Salvation—New creations, being forgiven, living eternally, and sharing God’s peace with those around them. It is remarkable. It is something to write home about. It is something to rejoice about. God is making all things new.