I stand at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay in the charming town of Havre de Grace, Maryland. The brilliant sun has just climbed up over the horizon. The air is crystal clear and the colors crisp. Unlike in Pennsylvania, flowering trees here are in full blossom. It seems like the kind of present you expect to find when you unwrap spring.
Instead, the temperature hovers near freezing. And when the harsh wind blows off the water, it numbs my uncovered hands in minutes.
How can something so beautiful be so mean?
17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy. (Is. 65: 17-18)
Here, in Isaiah, God pronounces a wonderful promise. But it assumes a sobering truth: the present world is permanently broken and ultimately unfixable. There is a disconnect inherent in the creation since the fall of man.
This contrast is explained in the previous chapter:
4 Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?
The same Hebrew word for ancient times is used for continued. From the beginning, God acts on behalf of those who wait for him. But since their fall, God’s people – to use a metaphor from this frigid morning – keep turning a cold shoulder to him.
The implication is that without intervention, this contrast will continue throughout human history. How then can we be saved?
This is why Christ died. But more than that, this is why he arose. He is “the firstborn from among the dead.” (Col 1:18; Rev. 1:5) He is Step One in the transformation of the entire creation.
It is the true Havre de Grace. For it would be enough to simply have new eyes to see the beauty in this world as His handiwork. It would be sufficient to know we, as his people, are redeemed from this slavery to brokenness and sin. And that soon we can leave this troubled world behind.
But it’s not enough for God.
He wants all creation to enter into the unfettered elation of knowing him. He wants to redeem the whole shebang. People will praise him. Trees will clap their hands. Fish will leap for joy.
What a blessed hope! It’s more than enough to warm my heart.
My fingers will have to wait.
God of grace and God of glory, the scope of your redemption thrills us. We can’t imagine earth without its inherent trouble. But you can. And every touch of beauty here is like a foretaste of that glory to come. Thank you for this precious promise.
Reader: What have you seen recently that gave you a glimpse of the coming glory of a new creation?