googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: New Year; Same Old World

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year; Same Old World

As my Sunday School class is concluding its study through Revelation, we recently looked at chapter 21 which deals with the New Jerusalem. It's a happy coincidence that this study should happen to fall on the first Sunday of a new year. This is the time when people are filled with such optimism. They look at the new year like a blank slate. It's an opportunity to start anew. The problem is that it may be a new year but we're still stuck in the same old world.

When people read Revelation, they sometimes look at it with different attitudes. Some people see Revelation (especially chapters 21-22) as God telling us about the end of the world and He wraps it up by saying, “and they live happily ever after.” If that were all God were telling us in Revelation, that would be cool. But there's more to it than that.

Still other people look at Revelation as God satisfying our curiosity. It's not enough that God tells us the Bible has a happy ending, they want to know what happens. It's kind of like dying. A lot of the fear of death revolves around what we're afraid of missing. We want to see our kids grow up, get married, and have their own families. Wouldn't it be great if, before we died, God showed us what happens to our kids and grandkids? That's how some people look at Revelation. We won't be here for the end but God's telling us now what's going to happen. If that was all Revelation was, that would still be cool. But there's more to it than that.

Revelation is the culmination of everything God has promised us. It is God restoring everything that sin has spoiled. In Genesis 1, the Bible tells us that God created a perfect world. God looked at everything He had created and it was all “very good” (Genesis 1:31). There were no disasters, floods, plagues, famines, pain, sorrow, disease, or death. It was a paradise. It was the world God intended for us to possess. The bad things we see now weren't part of the creation; they are part of the curse. This is the broken world.

While we live in this world, we make vain attempts to rid ourselves of the bad things. For the last 40 years, the federal government has waged a “war on poverty.” Yet there is still poverty. Prosperity preachers promise health, wealth, and prosperity to people who believe. Yet even they suffer in health, relationships, and scandals. We make New Year resolutions but nothing seems to change. Jesus promised us that while we were in this world, we will have tribulation (John 16:33). God has better things promised for us but not in this broken world.

God has redeemed us to Himself through the blood of His Son. Our salvation is secure. However, we still live in the cursed world and bad things will still continue to happen to us. It is in that new creation, the New Jerusalem, that God restores the paradise. God gives us back the creation He intended us to have. In Revelation 21:5, God says, “Behold, I make all things new.... Write, for these words are true and faithful.” In that city, there will be no more pain, sorrow, or tears. There will be no more death. There will be no more curse.

Right now, many people are making their new year's resolutions. They promise they will exercise, diet, or simply “do better” at whatever. That's all fine and we should always try to do our best. However, we must remember that we can't make our world a paradise. If you're not a Christian, instead of making a new year's resolution, how about turning your life over to Christ?

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