Read Isaiah 65:17-19
17 For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.(NRSV)
First thing to note about this passage is that it is not about recreating a literal city of Jerusalem,no matter what we may believe about the place of Jerusalem in the plans of God. This is a description of something yet to come. All of God’s good restorative works in our history are only ever partial. Heaven is yet to come.
It is good to remember this when we get bogged down with the complexities and hardships of our present life. It is good to remember this when those we love slip their moorings and leave this earth. God has a good future in store. Not some weird place of fluffy clouds and gold-paved streets,but a renovated earth. God’s rule will be complete and unchallenged. A place where all the goodness of beauty of our world will be enhanced and all the suffering and disorder in our world will be banished forever.
C. S. Lewis puts it well: “Then the new earth and sky,the same and yet not the same as these,will live in us as we have risen in Christ. And once again,after who knows what aeons of the silence and the dark,the birds will sing and the waters flow,and the light and shadows move across the hills,and the faces of our friends laugh upon us with amazed recognition.”
Even as I live each day here to the full,descriptions like this whet my appetite for what is yet to come.