Sermon Commentary for Sunday, November 17, 2019

Isaiah 65:17-25 Commentary

I love how the Lectionary brings the church year to a close.  Next Sunday, of course, is the celebration of the reign of Christ the King.  This Sunday we get a dramatic vision of the completion of the work of the King with this prophecy from Isaiah 65.

It’s a welcome relief from our long sad journey through Jeremiah’s gloomy prophecies about the end of Jerusalem and Judah.  In recent Sundays, we’ve heard more upbeat prophecies of the time after Exile and in the more distant future, when God will pour out the Spirit on all flesh (Joel 2) and “the desire of all nations” will come to redeem his people from the frustration and unfruitfulness of life (Haggai 1 and 2).

Here we come full circle from the fall of creation in Genesis to its recreation, from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, from Shalom shattered to Shalom restored.  Putting Isaiah 65 in that redemptive historical framework will save us from the interpretive issues that arise if we take all of Isaiah 65 literally (for example, does verse 20 mean that there will still be death in the new heaven and earth?).  This is a poetic, theological portrayal of how completely God will restore the earth to its pristine peace, using imagery drawn from the Genesis account of creation and from the ordinary lives of God’s people in a fallen creation.

I won’t say more than that, except to refer you to the piece I wrote on Easter Sunday earlier this year (see Sermon Commentary for April 15, 2019).  Easter was the inauguration of the new heaven and new earth, which will be completed at the return of the Risen Christ at the last day (cf. Revelation 21-22).


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