January 3, 2021

God Will Make All Things New

Passage: Isaiah62:1-5

I remember that on one of our trips we stopped in Amsterdam and went by train into Central Amsterdam.  We went to an art store where everything was made from recycled paper, plastic bottles, bottle caps and more.  What I thought of when I looked at all the pieces of art was that things that so easily could have ended up on the landfill, became something new.  And now I want us to think that God made it from the beginning His trade to make things.  As we stand at the beginning of AD 2021, the year of our Lord 2021, it's a wonderful affirmation we find in Revelation 21: 5, “He Who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"  At first it wasn't necessary for Him to turn old things into something new, because He created everything in perfect harmony.  But then sin came into the world and the decay of all good things became a reality.  And friends...just as one disaster is over and we think we can sigh a sigh of relief, the next one comes.  The year 2020 was hit with something that we never thought was possible – a world pandemic.  And now we ask a question for us and our children, “What will a New Year bring?”   Do we meet 2021 with optimism or pessimism?  Do we think this year is going to bring all the positives we have been longing for?  You know, it isn't for us to answer those questions.  Only God has control over it and we should put everything in His hands.  What our world should fathom is that only God can be God.  In Isaiah 62: 1 and 2 we see how determined God was to bring something new out of His people – “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.  The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory.”  One commentator called this chapter “The Song of the Church.”  The word Jerusalem in Isaiah's prophecy doesn't just refer to an old city, but it also refers to God's people in a future time.  My friends, that time is now, the time of the church of Jesus Christ in the 21st century.  Just as Jesus brought about the new establishment of His church when Isaiah's prophecy came into fulfilment as nations saw Zion and Jerusalem's vindication, our world will see new things through His church.  Just as He called people He made new like Mary Magdalene and Zacchias and Peter, there are still those who are renewed when the Holy Spirit comes upon them.  Even those who resist God will become new.

Isaiah 62 describes some of God's promises to His people along with His expectations:     1 God's People Will Receive A New Name.  We read in verse 2, “...you will be called by a new name...”   Isaiah prophesied that all nations will come to an understanding of how God was going to change His people's names.  They would be changed from failures and nobodies like the rest to people with a name God gave them, for they have been redeemed.  They were going to stand out above the rest of the nations.  In the Bible we read of people who received new names when God appointed them to do something special.  Abram became Abraham and Jacob became Israel.  Peter was Simon, son of John, until the day when Jesus told him, "You will be called Cephas." Cephas means rock and is also translated as Peter.  Peter received a new name, because Jesus wanted him to be the rock to build His church on.  And then Saul who persecuted Christ and His Church became Paul.  From the Latin Paul means “small” or “humble.”  He received this name to show that Jesus could do great things by using the humble or ordinary people in His service.  There is something very significant about all the names God gave people in the bible.  For all of them it was given as an encouragement.  They all live with the reality - “The old life with failure after failure is over.  I walk in the power of the Lord with an identity I received from Him.”   Do you realize my friends, we too have received a name from God that is far better than any name we can ever be called?  We read about this name in 1 John 3: 1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!”  There can never be a name more precious than “Child of God.”  You see, any other name was written on paper and it will deteriorate over time.  But the name, “Child of God”, has been written down in heaven and there it will never deteriorate.  How wonderful that we all have the same name – “Child of God!”  We were so precious that this name, “Child of God”, had been sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ.  But then, we should be worthy of the new name we received.  It was recorded that Rome fell in  AD 285.  During that time, Germanus, the nephew of the emperor didn't live up to the expectations Rome had for him.  The emperor summoned him and yelled at him in anger, “Live up to the name you received and if you can't, then change your name.”  There is a strong message for us as Christians – Don't call yourself a Christian, just because you follow the faith.  No, be worthy of the name as you demonstrate your fellowship of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah expressed in his prophesy 2 The New Relationship We Will Have As God's People.  We read in verse 4, “You will please the Lord; your country will be His bride.”  That may sound strange, but the idea here is that God's people enter into a relationship with Him as strong and important as marriage.  It's called a covenant.  2500 years ago, when the Jews were far off in a foreign country, some people ridiculed them by saying, “Your God has forsaken you; He doesn't care about you.”  What those people really wanted the Jews to believe was that they were like a woman who wanted to have a husband, but the one who was meant for her, didn't care enough to come for her.  That was as far as anyone could get from the promise God made to His people.  He told them that they would enter into a renewed relationship with Him and have a new purpose among themselves.  And in the New Testament it was Paul who compared the relationship between Jesus and His Church to that of a bride and her groom.  It was to be a relationship of trust and love.  And that was all secured in the fact that Christ laid down His life for His church.  He purchased His bride in His precious blood.  And with that He washed His bride, His Church, clean of all their sins.  How precious it is my friends that we can come any time before God and affirm that we have been cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ.  We affirm that we are the new people of God.  Ephesians 1: 7 affirms our position that was secured in the blood of Jesus – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”  When evangelist John Wesley was returning home from a service one night, he was robbed.  The robber, however, found his victim to have only a little money and some Christian literature.  As the bandit was leaving, Wesley called out, "Stop!  I have something more to give you."  The surprised robber paused. "My friend", said Wesley, "you may live to regret this sort of life.  If you ever do, here's something to remember: 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!'"  The robber hurried away, and Wesley prayed that his words might bear fruit.  Years later, Wesley was greeting people after a Sunday service when he was approached by a stranger.  What a surprise to learn that this visitor, now a believer in Christ, was the one who robbed him years before!  "I owe it all to you", said the transformed man.  "Oh no, my friend", Wesley exclaimed, "not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin!  That's why you can have a new relationship."

My friends, by the grace of God we all have received a new name and by His grace we stand in a new relationship with Him.  And now we have to ask ourselves the question, “How can I become more the person God wants me to be?”  Why don't we all make it our New Year's resolution – to become more and more the person God wants me to be .