For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
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.
Scripture: Isaiah 65:17-25
In this passage; Isaiah has the task of describing the kingdom of God, which can only be perceived through the work of the Holy Spirit. To understand the impact of this prophecy, we must acknowledge the audience. The Israelite people, at this time, have just been liberated from exile. The hope for a Messiah represented, to them, a restored physical kingdom.
When God called Abram in Genesis 12, he promised that he would make Abram’s name “great.” God’s plan for the world was for this blessing to include all people. The Israelites were called to be God’s people, to love God alone and love their neighbors. The Old Testament tells us that after God leads the people through the wilderness and the nation of Israel is established in Canaan the people forget the lessons taught by Moses and the Law. Throughout the prophets God’s people violate two key commands: they worship other gods and neglect the marginalized. Because of sin God’s kingdom cannot be fulfilled.
The Advent season is a time of preparation while awaiting the promise of God’s kingdom to be realized.
Isaiah proclaims, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.” The concept of a restored Jerusalem, in the writings of Isaiah, is a hyperbolic metaphor to symbolize a perfect world, the kingdom of God. If we look closer at the earlier verses of chapter 65, we see God’s desire to connect to all people, not just Israel, “I said ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by my name.”
Jesus teaches in the Gospel of Luke that “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed.” We can conclude that God’s kingdom is not confined to a specific time, place, or people. In chapter 66, Isaiah says God is looking for those who are “humble and contrite in spirit.”
What does it mean to be humble and contrite? To be humble is to hold oneself in lower regard in relation to others. This characterization can refer to the relationship of oneself to God and to others. A contrite spirit is one of remorse and repentance. To be repentant is to understand that “I” have caused others harm and “I” will change the behavior that created injustice amongst my neighbors.
Jesus teaches us that placing others above self is the path to the kingdom of God. During this Advent season let us prepare ourselves to be found humble and contrite in spirit, holding to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel.
James “Max” Carter
Core Idea: Prepare yourself for the coming kingdom of God. Be humble and contrite, ready to admit where you have done harm.