The world as we now know it will someday pass away. Christians have a future hope – it will literally be heaven on earth. There will be a renewed earth and God will descend to dwell with us, and, so, will bring us to the original design God had in the garden with Adam and Eve – an unhindered relationship between God and humanity in which we are no longer dogged by our sinful nature, a sinful world system, and all the temptations that the devil uses to exploit for his own purposes. Tears, death, sorrow and pain will a thing of the past. Eventually, our struggle with sin will be completely over (Revelation 21:1-6). To know that problems are temporary and that Jesus will change everything is a great comfort and help to believers in their present troubles.
One of the problems we experience in this present age is that we are impatient people; we want good things to happen, and to happen now! All of God’s people throughout history have been looking ahead for the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises. God said to the prophet Isaiah: “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. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more” (Isaiah 65:17-19).
When Jesus came in his first Advent, God’s people thought for sure all these promises would be fully realized. But, like a young couple in their engagement period, the promises of God had been initiated and promised, but not yet realized or consummated. There have been people throughout the centuries that have said, as the Apostle Peter identified (2 Peter 3:4): “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” Peter responded, in part, by reminding Christians (2 Peter 3:8-9): But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Jesus is making everything new. God is even now in the process of moving history to its final stage. Can we be patient, as God is, in letting him do his work until that final day comes, or will we be impatient? We live in an amazing time where we have instant communications and can travel anywhere in the world in a relatively short amount of time. The earth is a big place, but we can traverse it by plane in less than two days. It used to be that a ship going across the Atlantic Ocean took about three months from Europe to America. Now, we fly across the ocean in a matter of hours. Yet, we freak out that we have to be to the airport two hours before a flight and grump and complain about standing in a twenty minute line to board a plane.
And it used to be that communication moved at the same pace as a ship. Knowing about a significant event that happened in Europe would take three months to reach America. Now we can know about what kind of bread some Frenchman ate for breakfast almost instantly after he eats it because he posted it on social media. We complain if we have to wait a few extra seconds for something to load on our computers and smartphones, as if the world were about to end. Well, actually, it is about to end.
Yet, in the meantime, we are not to simply wait for the end to come and spend our remaining time trying to figure out exactly the day and hour of Christ’s Second Advent. Instead, when Jesus said “I am making everything new” he means that he is now at work transforming all things which will culminate is his Second Coming and the final passing away of the old order of things. We properly anticipate Jesus coming again when we let God change our hearts and lives, our neighborhoods and workplaces, our families and churches, to be just like Christ.
God is now in the business of preparing for Christ’s return by doing away with the old in order to make room for the new. The Apostle Paul put it this way to the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 5:17): If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! With every changed life, there is the reminder that God is not slow in keeping his promises, but is active in transforming lives for his own glory.
The book of Revelation helps us to break our fixation with the past and holding onto the ways we have always done things and are reminded of God’s capacity and action for renewal. We can walk now in newness of life. Christians are people, according to Paul (Romans 6:4) that “were buried with Jesus through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Looking to the future work of God in ultimately destroying the old and bringing in the new is to help us see that God is now in the process of renewal, changing lives so that Christ can dwell in our hearts through faith as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, as the One who has no room for any other God.
In order to not be impatient, but to keep enduring and persevering, it is necessary for us to know the whole story of God and what he has done, is doing, and will do. In the fall of 1991, a car driven by a drunk driver jumped its lane and smashed headfirst into a minivan driven by a man named Jerry Sittser. Sittser and three of his children survived, but Sittser's wife, four-year-old child, and mother died in the crash. In his book, A Grace Revealed, Sittser shares the following interaction some months after the accident with his son, David, who was one of the children who survived:
"Do you think Mom sees us right now?" he suddenly asked.
I paused to ponder. "I don't know, David. I think maybe she does see us. Why do you ask?"
"I don't see how she could, Dad. I thought Heaven was full of happiness. How could she bear to see us so sad?"
Could Lynda, my wife, witness our pain in Heaven? How could that be possible? How could she bear it?
"I think she does see us," I finally said. "But she sees the whole story, including how it all turns out, which is beautiful to her. It's going to be a good story, David."
God knows the whole story; he knows how everything is going to turn out. When everything passes away, when all is stripped from our lives, when the world as we know it is done away with, what are we left with? We are left with participating with God in the renewal of all things, through alleviating and doing away with the evils and troubles of this world. Whenever we seek to do away with things like global poverty; when we work to end the world of sex-trafficking or abortion; when we help others come to grips with the evil of this world through changing old satanic ways of operating; when we come alongside others in their trouble; then, God is using us to make everything new.
The end is coming, but it is not yet here. God is presently working to make everything new by bringing his salvation to all kinds of people. Let us allow God to that work both on others, and in us. Soli Deo Gloria.