I have had periods in my life when I feel perfectly comfortable with a concept God has given me to study, but don’t know how to express it in ordinary English language. It feels, sometimes, as though I think in one language, but speak in another.
This is one of those times.
If we go to church, or read the Bible to the point of knowing it, or even if we listen to sermons on television, sooner or later we run up against the wall that is God’s final day for us. The Day of Judgment. We might also start to wonder why or how there is going to be a “New Heaven” and a “New Earth.”
So we might be able to find a kind of theme facing us down: I’m going to come and sort you all out. Those who pass my screening will be on Earth. But Things Will Be Different.
Don’t ever forget, we speak to this every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer: Thy Kingdom Come.
Not, We go up to you in your kingdom, but your kingdom comes here to us.
There is something that is, as far as I can tell, a little known fact. If known at all.
And that is about the “cusp,” I might call it. The change between the Old and the New Testament.
The change did not happen at Christ’s birth, but at his death.
Or, at least it was supposed to.
I am referring to the way things once were handled: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Retaliation as a form of justice.
It is found in Exodus:
If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (21:23-25)
Jesus takes a stab at reversing it:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:38-42)
But the fact of that matter is that it was still in play at the time of Jesus’s death.
This means that the blood-letting of Christ’s death had to have been “paid back.” And it hasn’t been.
I thought it had been accomplished years ago, but it seems that now that it hasn’t. Perhaps God is waiting for just the right person to be willing to die in order to settle the debt that we owe God.
Frankly, at this point, I am somewhat confused about it all.
Mostly because of this:
Jesus was a sacrifice.
And God’s use of sacrifice still exists. Jesus was the last of the use of living sacrifices as a church rite. At least in our church, as we brought it forward from the Jewish Temple. No, we don’t need to bring pigeons to church any longer.
But in the universe, the concept of sacrifice still exists. It’s there at a martyr’s death. It’s there on the battlefield. It’s there when medical personnel try to stop dangerous epidemics from spreading.
We sacrifice ourselves. And sometimes God sacrifices us. And when that is done, be assured that the souls were willing. God doesn’t just pluck someone out of a crowd and say, You, you are going to die in order for….
In these cases, we die by choice. It can be our willingness to step forward, or it can be our willingness to be sacrificed by God.
A sacrifice can be called for after a major prayer has been answered.
So when we talk of a New Earth, we include in that newness the loss of such a dynamic. A world with no sacrifice needed.
And this is huge.
There’s a part of me that believes that people don’t rely on God all that much because unconsciously they know that it will cost them. And perhaps the bill will be a loss of something significant. So we do our best to get along in life without his assistance.
And I’ve always been very sympathetic about that. I’ve always said, Do it yourself. You really don’t want God involved with your problem solving. He has his own ideas about things, and they don’t always match up with our own.
But as we look at the reality of God’s Kingdom coming down here to Earth to us, we have to begin to face up to many things that we’ve gotten away with for a long time. Like not taking God seriously. Not accepting that he is real and that he does stuff on Earth all the time.
Including miracles of healing. That occur everyday. That baffle doctors. And yet we tamp them down so that God isn’t showing in the end. It was just a wonderful thing that happened.
We might thank God. But we know what that really means. It’s just sort of like rubbing a rabbit’s foot. Kind of a superstition that we think we should do just in case.
We don’t want the reality of God.
But the Final Judgment will be an experience of the real God on Earth.
So, so far we have:
- The knowledge that God’s Kingdom is coming to Earth;
- The awareness that the death of Jesus, though a sacrifice, has never been “paid” for;
- The acceptance that the reality of sacrifice is still going on today;
- The shock that Things Are Going To Change in reality.
And at least we know that this is all confirmed by scripture:
Now I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from Heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Then he who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And he said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:1-8)
But there is an earlier passage in the Bible that, to me, describes it perfectly:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)
So at least three things have to happen. The first is that death has to no longer to exist in the manner that it currently does. And that is something only God can make happen. He created us, he is the one who has to recreate us into something new.
And the second, to my mind anyway, is another thing that God has to change in our makeup: he has to remove the region in our brains that leads us to violence. That primitive part that always has to be on guard in case someone or something is a danger to us. We are born with an instinct to grab on to our mothers in case something startles us. And we go from there. We react to certain loud noises, even if they are from benign causes, as though we are in danger. There are people who are terrified of the sound of thunder.
And it’s no joke. We are in potential danger every second of our lives.
Then there’s the whole matter of sacrifice / retaliation.
It strikes me that in order for God to recreate the Earth and make it something new, death, violence, and sacrifice have to go.
Mosquitoes being considered as no longer useful would be great, too.