WHEN GOD WILL BE WITH MEN
Devotion 11 of 50
THE FIRST ORDER PASSES AWAY
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Verse 1, (Rev 21:1-8)
When the "first heaven and the first earth" are removed, it will strip many a soul of everything it counted precious. Life in Christ Jesus is designed to prepare us for this inevitability. Hundreds of years before Jesus came into the world, the Psalmist wrote, "Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. THEY SHALL PERISH, but thou shalt endure: yea, ALL OF THEM shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed" (Psa 102:25-26).
That was written during a time BEFORE “the Sun of righteousness arose with healing in his wings” (Mal 4:2). It was before “the Light of the world” came into the world (John 8:12), and men saw “a great light’ (Matt 4:16). It was before the prophet Isaiah had written, “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isa 65:17). Sin had thrown a shroud of obscurity over everything, so that only those familiar with God knew the destiny of all of nature. But even in those spiritually primitive times, David walked close enough to the Lord to receive the revelation that the earth was growing old, and would finally be removed, and replaced with a new one.
Isaiah wrote of the earth being "broken up," "split open," "shaken exceedingly," reeling "to and fro like a drunkard," tottering "like a hut," and falling never to "rise again" (Isa 24:19-20). Those who know and believe this will not conduct their lives as though this world was permanent – to say nothing of their own life in this world. Satan leads people who yield to him into a life that ignores ultimate reality. He so blinds them that they live as though “now” is the most important period, and “here” is the most important place. But these are nothing but delusions. They move people to make worldly investments without due regard for the fact that the world is temporal. They culture appetites for this world, a love for it, and a preference for it. But the very world in which they feel at home, and for which they live, is tottering about like a drunken man, and becoming “old” like a tattered garment. O, the scientists have given them explanations for the erratic behavior of the earth, so that the people do not think about the world passing away, and that it may very well be in the throes of death right now.
Again, the world is challenged, "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment" (Isa 51:6). Our Lord Himself said, "Heaven and earth will pass away" (Matt 24:35). Peter affirms that when our Lord returns "the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Pet 3:10 NKJV). Those counting on this world being permanent are on the precipice of eternal ruin!
Now John is given to see the time when "the first heaven and the first earth will pass away." That means the purpose for them will be concluded – and when it is concluded, the world cannot continue on. The temporal realm was the stage upon which the drama of redemption was unfolded. It was intended to be the place where people would be cultured and prepared for eternity with the Lord. It was meant to be a place where their souls could be properly sensitized, their appetites cultured for proper things, and longings for a “better country” could be developed and matured. The church, which is “the body of Christ” (Col 1:18), “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), and “the household of God” (Eph 2:19) is not intended to resolve the problems of this present evil world. It is not meant to be a relief station for those who prefer this present evil world. As a God-ordained entity, it is not here to minister to the temporary needs of the citizens of this world. That does not mean that such activities are of themselves wrong. It does mean they are not principle matters, and there is not a syllable in Scripture that suggests they are. We have examples of churches in Scripture, and of what they did – both acceptable and unacceptable. A lack of preparation for the coming of the Lord and the end of the world was always out of order – no matter what else a church did or did.
What shall we say of a church – any church – where it is relatively easy for the attendees to forget, and perhaps not even know, that this world and its “fashion” are passing away (1 Cor 7:31), and there is “the world to come” (Lk 18:30; Heb 2:5; 6:5), for which thorough preparation is mandatory? Tell me, What good is such a church? What need does it have for Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the ministry of holy angels? Believe me, heavenly resources are not intended for worldly projects.
Salvation prepares the people of God for the inevitability of the present heavens and earth passing away. Thus, for them, the thought of its passing is not accompanied by trauma or disappointment. Their affection has been uprooted from the passing realm and anchored in the eternal domain – where Jesus is presently ministering and preparing His people for eternity with Himself.
Tomorrow: “NO MORE SEA”
PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus I thank You for the promised cessation of the present heavens and earth.