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Return of the King - Advent 2016

December 12, 2016 – Restoring Eden

“The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the LORD,
The majesty of our God.
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
‘Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.'”
– Isaiah 35:1-4

Each time we meet Isaiah during Advent, we’re reminded of just how big a vision he had of God’s intended future. According to Isaiah, God wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than the utter transformation of creation. Isaiah sees a time when the wilderness – a place known for its lack of life – would blossom. He saw a time when God’s glory would come down in such power that he would be seen in the deadest of places.

It would be easy to turn this passage into an allegory – as many are wont to do. But I don’t believe Isaiah saw it that way. In his mind, he wasn’t talking about a ‘moral wilderness.’ Isaiah’s vision was bigger than that. He saw a coming together of heaven and earth. He saw God’s presence descending. And because of this meeting, Isaiah saw the discouraged and the weary and the anxious as receiving hope.

God the Son descended once, two-thousand years ago, and he brought that hope. Spiritual wildernesses did blossom. But it wouldn’t do justice to Isaiah’s prophecy to leave it at that. When he left, Jesus said he would come again. And when he comes again, creation will be remade – John described it this way, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1).

At Christ’s second advent, all things will be made new. And in that eternal, new earth – that place we commonly call Heaven – there will be no wilderness. There will be no place where life does not thrive. In fact, “there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Instead, the whole earth will be filled with his glory – for eternity.

For at Christ’s second coming, Eden will be restored.

And all things will be made new.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” – Revelation 22:17

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