January 1, 2018 • Life for Leaders
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure.”
Today is New Year’s Day. It’s a time when millions of people will celebrate the change in the calendar. They’ll proclaim “Happy New Year!” as if this is astounding good news. But is it really?
The prophet Isaiah announced a bigger and better newness. His news was truly amazing good news. Isaiah’s vision has often stretched beyond that of the other Hebrew prophets. He has repeatedly seen, for example, all nations coming to worship the God of Israel and even participating in God’s salvation. In the closing chapters of this prophetic book we hear language that envisions, not just a global turning to God, but a recreation of all things. In Isaiah 65:17, for example, the Lord said, “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Now that’s a big vision… a new heaven and a new earth!
Isaiah 66:22 reinforces this vision of a new creation with an added promise. Not only will God remake heaven and earth, and not only will his new creation last forever, but also God’s people will always belong to him. Their name, which identifies them as God’s special people, and their descendants “will… endure.” Those who belong to God will last. They will not disappear or be destroyed.
As we look forward to a new year, we are reminded of the greater newness yet to come in the new creation. Last night at midnight our calendars changed, but the world was otherwise the same. Someday, however, God will renew all things. In that day, sorrow will be swallowed up by rejoicing (Revelation 21:3-4). God’s justice will cover the earth. Tools that produce war will be hammered into tools that produce food. In the meanwhile, even in the midst of life’s difficulties and pains, we rejoice in the fact that we are God’s people now. We belong to him, and nothing in all creation can take his love away from us (Romans 8:38-39). I can’t think of a better foundation for a new year: the hope of God’s new creation and the reassurance that we belong to him forever.
So, yes, Happy New Year! But even more, Happy New Creation!
Something to Think About:
What are your expectations for the new year?
How does the fact that you belong to God forever make a difference in your life today?
How might it make an even greater difference in 2018?
Gracious God, as we begin this new year, I am reminded that newness doesn’t really come with a calendar change. It comes through you. Only the one who created all things has the power to recreate them. And this you will do one day. What a day that will be!
In the meanwhile, I live in the hope of your new creation. Thank you, dear Lord, that through your Spirit I can experience a bit of the future even today. This encourages me to keep on hoping, and to live hopefully each day.
But what reassures me most today is the knowledge that I belong to you forever. What a wondrous reality! It gives me the solid foundation to approach the new year with confidence. I am yours: your servant, your disciple, your beloved child. May I live out this truth each and every day, growing in you, serving you, glorifying and enjoying you in all that I do. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Work’s Ultimate Meaning (Isaiah 60ff.)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.