When the Christmas presents have been opened it is great to see the pleasure on the face of the recipient as they look at their gift. A child might squeal with delight when they see their sparkling new bicycle, or much requested toy or game. A young woman might flush with excitement when she displays her new diamond engagement ring, with all the promise that it holds for future life. Us old folks still get the tingle of Christmas having learned through life that it is better to give than to receive. However, receiving the inevitable pair of socks still brings a smile to one’s face!
The New Year’s Eve party at our Gospel Hall was special this year because of the number of families with little children (and older one’s too) enjoying fellowship together. As the chimes of Big Ben rang out on the radio, poppers exploded, hugs were engaged in and a ‘Happy New Year’ kiss given to one and all. Then it was lovely to settle down and sing a few hymns and listen to the Word of God being ministered to us assuring us that the Great God of the ages loves us and will continue to do so for all eternity.
Parents in their wisdom had brought pyjamas for their children to change into, because of the lateness of the hour. To see these little ones sitting on the floor listening to the Word of God, none of them sleeping, all alert and taking in the message, made me realise the potential and prospect for future life and service for God. I remember hearing the story of an evangelist who returned home from a preaching mission, was asked if any people had got saved. He replied, ‘Two and a half’. The enquirer said, ‘Oh yes, two adults and one child’, the preacher replied, ‘Oh no, two children and one adult’, the adult had wasted most of his life in sin whereas the children had most of their life to live for the Lord.
For many Christians a New Year sees them beginning again their daily reading of chapters in Genesis and Matthew as they seek to read the Bible from cover to cover in one year. This practice serves Christians well as they approach each day, to have the scriptures to counsel them for daily life and experience. Do you read the Bible like this? If not, why not start to do so this month.
Many unbelievers criticise the Bible but have never read it. They repeat comments that they have heard others say but do not read the good Book for themselves. Are you one of these? I was! Until January 1957 when I first heard the gospel in an RAF billet at Henlow in Bedfordshire. I got saved at the end of February that year but did not own a Bible. I asked another airman if he could get me a Bible when he went home at the weekend. He asked me what sort of Bible I wanted, I replied, ‘A black one!’ That was all I knew about the Bible, only the colour of the exterior and nothing about the interior, but I did ask him to get me two Bibles, one for me and the other for my wife for when she got saved. She was saved the last day of March, no April fool for her!
The first and last mentions of words in the Bible are important. The first mention of ‘new’ in the Bible is in Exo. 1:8 “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” Pharaoh said in Exo. 5:2, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” That verse tells us of Pharaoh’s arrogance, “Who is the LORD?” and his ignorance, “I know not the LORD” and his disobedience, “neither will I let Israel go.” Pharaoh may have been a new king but he had some old problems.
The last mention in the Bible of ‘new’ is in Revelation chapter 21 verse 5, “And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” In that book God says that He will give to the overcomer, a new name . At present we have a name that was given to us by our parents before they knew anything about the sort of life that we would live, whereas God will give a name that is appropriate to the life that has been lived for Him.
In chapter 9 verse 5 we read, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation”. Pop songs are often repetative and have very little substance. The song they sing in heaven is a new song, sung by redeemed people, every one of them saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and cleansed by virtue of His shed blood on the cross.
In the first verse of chapter 21 we read, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea”. Some scientists attribute global warming to the discharging of carbon gases into the atmosphere, and polluting it. The oceans are polluted also by harmful waste dumped into them. The earth has its enviromental problems with waste from atomic power and other major polutants. Paul comments in Romans chapter 8 verse 22, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” The earth is groaning under the strain that sin has caused, but it will soon be relieved from the burden when Christ returns to earth. Ultimately there will be a new heaven and a new earth that sin will not spoil, that will be wonderful!
Then in chapter 21 verse 2 John says, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” In 1804 William Blake wrote ‘Jerusalem’, Parry later wrote the tune for this well known anthem. Blake wondered if Christ ever came to England? The Bible tells us that He never left Israel other than when His parents fled with Him as a baby to Egypt. He also longs that Jerusalem will be built by man in England’s green and pleasant land. Not so! Jerusalem in Israel will be rebuilt when Christ returns to earth but New Jerusalem is comprised of people that come out from heaven to occupy a position in space to administer things on earth.
New Name: New Song: New Heaven and New Earth: New Jerusalem.
All Things New. That will do for me. How about you?
Happy New Year – written by guest blogger for FTMP
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