Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
(Read Revelation 21:1-5)
(Guest Contributor) This devotion was written on September 11th. It’s a day with gut-wrenching importance for many Americans and people around the world. 19 years ago, a group of terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into majestic skyscrapers, an iconic government building, and into country fields in Pennsylvania. It was a day that changed a multitude of lives. 9/11 catapulted the Mideast and west into lengthy wars, escalated tensions between Muslims and non-muslims, and brought me closer to Jesus Christ.
More than 3,000 people died from the attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Since then, there have probably been more than 10-20X that many who have perished around the world because of related attacks, battles, and wars that followed that fateful day. On September 10th, this world had problematic ills that plagued the human race. We needed healing. On September 11th, the world had exponentially more problems that required and still require healing.
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”
The idea of a new heaven and a new earth was not unique to Revelation. It had been written about in much older scripture. The prophet Isaiah wrote about this promise hundreds or thousands of years earlier.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create a Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy.” (Isaiah 65:17-19)
The Bible uses the word “heaven” with different meanings. The first heaven is the blue sky above us, the second heaven is dark “night sky,” and the third heaven is the ultimate heaven where God abounds in glory. Isaiah and the disciple John (who most scholars attribute as the author of Revelation) were referring to the first and second heavens as receiving the “new” condition. The greek word used in Revelation referred to new of character or fresh. The New Jerusalem offers total hope. It’s been described as a righteous community, a holy place, sinless, and pure.
To pass on his privileged vision of what the new heaven would be like, John used the most beautiful thing he could imagine. He described the awe that a man feels when he sees his bride gracefully strolling down the aisle, ready to meet him.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.'”
I had pulled an all-nighter working on a deadline before I saw the twin towers in lower Manhattan crumble into a pile of dust. In the back of my head, I wondered, if I was imagining it all. Was it really happening? Why? A few hours later, I saw video of explosions at the Pentagon. It was very surreal.
The next part of the day was spent worrying about my wife getting home from work and our kids returning home from school. There wasn’t much I could do at that point. I realized that I couldn’t protect my family from all the dangers and evils in this world. I walked outside and looked up to the bluebird sky. It was a blank canvas — no clouds, no planes. It then dawned on me that I was not in control of my life or my family’s life. Only Jesus Christ is in control. Only He can guarantee our future. I went inside and fell to my knees and prayed. He was with me then. I felt the warm reassuring promise of his arms around me. I was his at that point.
“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
God will wipe away EVERY tear from our eyes. Throughout life, there will be tears a plenty. Tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of fear, tears of grief, tears of sorrow, tears of guilt, and so on. Our faith in Jesus Christ guarantees that we will experience a time without any tears. There will be no painful reminders of the things that hurt. Things will cease to fall apart.
For those who are facing disturbing health crisis, place your hope and trust in Jesus Christ. As your conduit to God, he can make all things new. There is healing power in his love for us. There is healing power in when we become renewed by letting Christ in our lives.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 5:17)
Over the next several days following the attacks of 9/11, I felt like a different person. In some ways, it seemed as if we were living in a different world. Not a better one, just different. I was emotionally devastated by the loss of life and utter destruction of the attacks.
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”
In many ways though, I felt healed, safer, and assured. I had found the real protector of my family and me. Revelation didn’t just say that God would someday make all things new, he said, “I am making everything new!” He will do this continuously until we experience the complete happiness of God’s glory in heaven.
God wants us to be happy and joyful. God wants us to be healthy. Part of the human experience also includes devastating pain, sorrow, and fear. Each generation has borrowed the hollowness of those feelings. When facing uncertainty, look to the newness that we receive from Jesus Christ. He is with you through thick and thin, through good weather and bad. The next time you see a bright blue sky, smile and know that everything he promised will be. “For these words are trustworthy and true.”
- Do you feel safer or more vulnerable in recent times? What makes you worry more? What gives you comfort?
- Have you ever experienced healing? What do you think contributed to it?
- Do you have hope for your future? Is there hope for Christians? Why/Why not?
- I worry most when I internalize my fears. The more I stew about my problems, the bigger they become. Face your fears or vulnerability on equal terms. Accept them as the challenge they are but don’t automatically accept a fearful outcome. Hope, pray, and surrender. Hope for God’s love and healing. Pray that he will be with you, comfort, and guide you. Surrender to his will.
- Doctors can’t always explain why some people are “magically” healed. Only God knows the answers to this question. We can fight and insist on being in control, but we’re never going to be in complete control. God knows that his word is true. God will always be on your side in everything you do, in everything you think, in every wish you make. Read all of Revelation 21. Pray for God’s peace in your life.
- I read Revelation 21 to our church two days following the 9/11 attacks. I had never read aloud in church before that. When reading the text, it was as if a shield was put around me. I not only felt confident and safe, I was hopeful for our future. For my future. Read all of Revelation 21. Pray for God’s peace in the world.
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.