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AN ENDLESS BEGINNING

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작성자 최고관리자 작성일15-12-29 22:41 조회799회 댓글0건

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<Isaiah 65: 17-25>

 

 On February 18, a great tragedy took place in Taegu, Korea. 

A catastrophic act of arson by an insane man resulted in the death of over 100 people, with many more missing. 

 

The number of dead will probably increase in the days to come, as forensic experts will identify additional remains from the burned sections of the train.  Many more were serious injured.  Entire 12 cars of the subway train burned down and many of the passengers died from asphyxiation as they inhaled poisonous gases within the burning train.  We must pray for the families of those who died.

          

  We must pay particular attention to the fact that this incident took place as a man, who had a diseased soul, committed an act of terror against a random group of people.  This incident tells us that unfortunate people lurk within the shadows cast by the fortunate masses of this world.  It reminds us that while many people laugh and enjoy their lives, there are those who shiver and convulse from loneliness and misfortune. 

 

It teaches us the importance of preventive treatment to heal the diseased souls of those around us.

 Looking at the world around us, we can see that we live in a precarious world.  It feels as if there is no peace of the heart.  Internationally, it seems as if nations do not trust one another.  Hate is augmented by more hate.  It seems like someone is stepping on the brake of misery, creating rifts, divisions, and oppositions amongst us.

 

 ​We truly live in an era of horror and terror.  In times like this, where must we find solace and hope?  We try to find the answer to this question from today’s scripture.

 Today’s scripture is about an incident that takes place after the people of south Judea gain their freedom from Babylon.  The city of Jerusalem, capitol of Judea, fell to the Babylonian Empire.  And many people were taken as prisoners to Babylon.

 

 After about 30 years of captivity, people of Judea were able to gain their freedom.  After King Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonian Empire, he gave freedom to the people of Judea.  Many people of Judea returned to Jerusalem from Babylon to resurrect the destroyed city and castle walls of Jerusalem. 

 

  As they returned home, these people harbored great hope and happiness in their hearts.  How happy they must have been, returning to their homeland that they dreamed about?  How choked up they must have been, thinking about the future that lay ahead as they made plans to rebuild Jerusalem?

 

 But on the other hand, they also felt despair and sadness.  The city of Jerusalem lay in ruins.  The temple lay in ruins, with weeds and wild plants growing everywhere.  They were destitute, not knowing where their next meal will come from.  They had no plans for the future, of how to make the ends meet.  The hearts of the people of Judea were heavy with these questions and uncertainties.  They worried about the uncertain and insecure future that lay ahead of them.

  

 

When such disparate emotions ran crossroads in their minds, when hope and despair crested and troughed in their hearts, God gave them word.  Through prophet Isaiah, God is giving these people a vision about the new heaven and earth.  It is a promise of the resurrection of Jerusalem, as a bright shining castle.  It is a promise of miraculous blessing and peace heretofore unimagined.

 

 ​But the future castle of Jerusalem will not be built with sand, bricks, or mortars.  It is not constructed with secular materials of this world.  It is built on a new lot within our hearts.  It is built with such construction materials as changed character and renewed faith.  Then what type of events will take place in this new castle of Jerusalem?

 

 First, according to verse 19, the voice of weeping and crying will no longer be heard from Jerusalem. 

 

 What does this mean?  As the new Jerusalem is rebuilt, the voice of crying from those who lost their husbands, children, and parents in the Taegu subway incident will no longer be heard.  The tears of those who lost their loved ones during the September 11 terror attack will disappear.  Ultimately, all the sadness will disappear and all the crying will go away in this new kingdom of happiness and joy.

 

 Second, according to verse 20, the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.  What does this phrase mean?  There are many infants in this world that die only a short period after their births.  John Wesley’s parents had 19 children; among them, 9 of them died during infancy.  This was common during those days, when medical technology was not advanced and infant mortality rate was high.  Even today, many innocent children and infants die before they blossom, succumbing to diseases like leukemia and cancer.  When the new Jerusalem advents, such tragedy will no longer take place. 

 

 Furthermore, old people who did not fill their days will also disappear.  It means that everyone will live to be old.  People will live to be so old, in fact, that a hundred-year old person will be considered a child.  Those who do not live to be hundred years old will be considered cursed, for majority, if not all, people will live well beyond hundred years of age.  This new Jerusalem will be teeming with old, yet healthy, people.

 

 ​Third, according to verse 21, people shall have their houses and vineyards.  This means that people will no longer suffer and yearn because they do not have land or a house of their own.  People will no longer have to rent dwellings; everyone will have their own house to inhabit.  People will no longer have to till and work other people’s land; each person will be able to eat the fruits grown from their own land.  In short, there will be no more poverty and hunger in the new kingdom.

 

  Fourth, according to verse 22, the rich will no longer be able to extort from the poor.  They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat.”  Those with money and power, those who are unjust and violent will no longer take other people’s homes and lands.  Social justice will be realized and prevail.

 

 Fifth, according to verse 23, all people will be born as the blessed offspring.  “They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble.”  Their labors and efforts will not be for naught.  Catastrophes such as war will not take place to prevent children from being born.  All people will be the blessed sons and daughters of the Lord, who will be with them always.

 

 Sixth, according to verse 24, it is promised that God will answer before prayers are offered.  When the new Jerusalem advents, it will no longer be necessary to pray out loud.  Before we call our Lord, God will answer.  Before we even finish what we are saying, God will hear our voices.

 

 ​Seventh, according to verse 25, it will be a peaceful kingdom where the lion and the lamb play together.  “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food.”

           

 The wolf and the lamb, former archenemies, will reconcile.  Carnivores like a lion will become omnivores like a cow.  Poisonous snakes that bite humans will eat dust as its food.  When the new Jerusalem advents, Iraq and the United States will reconcile.  Tyrant dictators like Saddam Hussein will become tame like a lamb.  North Korea and the United States will become allies.  Nuclear weapons will become but a toy-like gadget.  A new world will advent, where there is no more harming, suffering, and killing.

          

  Will such a kingdom advent on earth?  Is this but an unrealizable pipe dream?  Reflected against the harsh, cold reality of today, is this but a false fantasy?  Is this an ‘impossible possibility?’  Just as Thomas Moore stated ‘Utopia No Place,’ is this promise of new Jerusalem but an artificial world that exists only within the figment of our imagination?

           

 Perhaps it may be.  This vision of the new kingdom may be very difficult to realize on earth.  But this vision is clearly written in the Bible, the word of God.  Therefore, we, as Christians, must believe this promise from God.  We need to believe that some day, on this earth, a new heaven and earth heretofore unimaginable can be created as God had promised.  We need to embrace this vision with our hearts and weather the grim reality of today.

           

 When we conjure up the image of God in our minds, we often imagine Him to be an elderly looking figure perhaps an image similar to our grandfathers.  Most of us probably imagine God to look like a sternly white-haired figure with a long beard and a walking cane.  Of course, God does not have an age.  We can’t say whether He’s young or old.  God does not have a gender.  We cannot say whether He is a male or a female.

           

 But the image of God in the Bible is one of a young, vibrant image.  God, who created this universe and presides over all man, is not an elderly figure.  He is young, full of strength, vigor with abundant creative energy to create something new every moment.

           

 God especially creates new beginnings endlessly.  After He created man, God has actively changed many things in the universe to make it new.  German theologian Wolfhart Pannenbuerg defined God as ‘the power of future.’  What does he mean by ‘the power of future?’  It means that God will visit us on earth, even on this day, to give us the knowledge and wisdom to design our future.  God is the One with the ability to start a new future.

           

 God has created endless new futures since He created man.  Through Noah’s ark, he created a new world.  When Israel and Judea fell to Babylon, people thought that the history of Israel had ended.  But through the remnants of Israel and Judea, He began constructing new Israel.

           

When Christ was crucified, people thought that Christianity had ended.  But after the crucifixion on the cross, resurrection took place, and a new history of Christianity unfolded.  When Paul was martyred in Rome, the hope of spreading the word of the gospel to Gentiles seemed to have died with him.  But God started a new history by making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

           

 Each and every perilous moment in history led people to believe that all has ended, that hope was lost.  But God was different.  At the moment when man’s hope seemed to be at the rope’s end, He started a new chapter in history of man.

           

 People of Jerusalem, looking at the ruins upon returning from Babylon, lost hope.  They despaired.  But God, through Isaiah, showed these people a vivid picture of new Jerusalem to come, replete with new heavens and new earth.  And this new beginning led to realization of God’s promise.

           

 Believe the fact that when man deems something impossible, God sets out to make that endeavor possible.  When man arrives at the point deemed to be the end, God makes a new beginning from that point!

           

 Let’s concluded today’s word.  Many innocent people lost their lives in Taegu as result of the subway incident.  At the brink of a certain war, people are afraid.  Faced with a nuclear crisis, people are trembling.  Bloodshed, antipathy, hatred, and mistrust are teeming from just about every corner of this world.  In times like this, we must be able to share the vision that Isaiah saw.  We must be able to see God love, wisdom, and ability that endlessly creates a new beginning whenever man arrives at a dead end.

           

 ​A tinker, one who mends broken pots and pans, was imprisoned in a British prison for 12 years and underwent a great ordeal.  People thought that his fate was at its end.  But the tinker did not think that way.  Had he given up, the famous Pilgrim’s Progress would never have been created.

          

 John Bunyan firmly believed that tribulation and suffering were a new beginning.  He was confident that at such moments God would undertake in an endeavor even greater and more miraculous than before.  His beliefs enabled him to write classics considered immortal in the history of Christianity.

           

 After Genesis, God has created and will continue to create new beginnings.  Today, everything seems uncertain and fearful.  In moments like this, have the ability to sit back and look at what God will create next.

           

  Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1: 6)

 

 “He that lives in hope dances without a fiddle.”  (Arabian proverb)        

 

 

 

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