Yesterday we looked down at the ground beneath our feet and what has sprung forth from it. Now, we look up into the vast magnitude of space and see there a different kind of beauty and wonder.
The sun, moon and/or stars are often used to talk about the future in the Bible and in particular the ‘end times’. For many years, the dominant view has been that, at some point in the future, God will destroy this world in judgement and we will spend eternity in heaven. For too many people the belief that this world is going to be destroyed has been held hand-in-hand with the assumption that we need not bother looking after it now.
But, as we’ve seen, God’s physical creation is loved by him and given value because he looks at it and declares each part of it good. Too much discontinuity negates the biblical witness that this physical universe is valued by God.
Isaiah 65.17–25 is the passage that the prophet John quotes when he talks about seeing a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev. 21.1). The context for these words is the time when the people had returned from exile and were looking forward to the rebuilding of their nation, and contained within them are the seeds of a wider hope for the future – the natural world and human society, people and animals living together peaceably. It does not literally mean the creation of completely new entities, but is speaking poetically to describe a situation of radical renewal.
Revelation 21 and 22 is a wonderful vision of just that reality. The Holy City comes down out of heaven to earth, but it is a transformed earth unlike the one we know now. A holistic picture of God and his creation, living and worshipping him together as we were originally intended to do.
Therefore, every action we choose to take that looks after this world (even when it’s raining . . . or too hot . . . or inconvenient . . . or maybe more expensive . . . or not the usual thing to do and makes us look different . . .) shows our wish to live in anticipation of the future that Jesus’ death on the cross and the presence of his Holy Spirit guarantees, as we move towards the future glory that God will reveal through his creation.