A God of Redemption

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Our campus chaplain at the University where I work put together a lenten devotional for the campus and asked different members of the University community to write the devotion for each day. I was honored to be one of the ones he asked and thought the readers of the blog might enjoy it too.

Isaiah 65:17-21

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.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
    and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
    will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
    will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
    will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
    they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

 

 

Our God’s redemptive power is on clear display in this passage. God will not leave his beloved creation in this fallen world forever. In his great mercy he will reverse the curse of Genesis 3 on a cosmic scale. One day this world will be replaced by a new heavens and new earth, a new creation so beautiful that the trials of this world won’t even be remembered in comparison.

God’s redemption is both cosmic and personal. He will redeem the entire world with a new heavens and new earth but he also cares about redeeming each person’s life where it is right now. A few chapters earlier in Isaiah God tells Israel, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2) No matter what you’ve done or what has been done to you, God proved through the saving death (and resurrection) of his son that he can redeem your circumstances into something for your good and his glory.

The apostle Paul is a great example. Although he spent the beginning of his life persecuting Christians, and the last part of his life being  persecuted for his Christianity, God was able to redeem Paul’s life and use it in a mighty way for the kingdom of God.

As Christians we are called to herald the coming re-creation by working to bring the kingdom of God here on earth. We look to Jesus for an example of what it looks like to bring this kingdom to our world and see that a life of bringing the kingdom of God is a life of service. When we serve or forgive others even when it is hard the world gets a glimpse of the New Jerusalem mentioned in this scripture. When we sit with someone and dry their tears or give them a moment of joy in the midst of a trial we give flesh to these verses and give them a real taste of heaven.

On Ash Wednesday we are told “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” as ashes are placed on our foreheads. Thankfully, our return to the dust isn’t the end of the story. Praise be to God that he can bring beauty out of ashes right now in our lives, and that he will bring eternal beauty out of the ashes of this world in the days to come.

Image: Pale Blue Dot

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