Friday, June 21, 2013

An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday June 23, 2013

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(Rejoice in what GOD is always doing)
(Isaiah 65:17-25)

Isaiah 65, verses 17-25 contains the final of four prophecies in this chapter that represent actual responses by GOD to the remnant’s prayers of Isaiah chapters 63 and 64. In many ways these responses sum up the greater message of the entire book. In this fourth prophesy the LORD says that HE will establish a glorious kingdom in which peace and righteousness will grow and flourish.
Here the prophet Isaiah, whom GOD is speaking through, does not seem to distinguish between this kingdom (millennial kingdom) and the one described by the Apostle John in Revelation 21 (coming after the millennial kingdom). In fact, his description seems to combine elements of both. Never the less, apparently, Isaiah saw the two as one, in this most elaborate of visions, which reaches beyond time and into eternity.
Isaiah chapter 60 and Ezekiel chapters, 40-48, also contains parallels of the vision shared here in this passage concerning the “new heaven”, the “new earth”, and a New Jerusalem. The Israelites had long understood that the “earthly Jerusalem” was always intended to be the site for the temple of GOD. Since the days when King David first moved the Jewish worship center from Mount Gerizim to Jerusalem, he had in mind to build GOD’s temple there.
Biblical history records, however, that the task of building that temple would be assigned to King Solomon, David’s son. The temple would be a symbol of GOD’s presence among HIS people, and would be a place where GOD could be approached in worship. As seen in Revelation 21, the “new” Jerusalem fulfills the promise of the “old”, and we see GOD is present in reality, and, it is only HIS people who can worship him freely, for all eternity.
John’s vision of the new Jerusalem magnifies to a great degree, the visions of the Old Testament prophets that were expressed and depicted hundreds of years earlier. Isaiah, Haggai, and Ezekiel, all had visions of a “rebuilt” Jerusalem. When we consider those facts, it becomes increasingly easy to see that the idea of a “new” Jerusalem had been a constant dream of GOD’s faithful over the years.
In the Greek, there are two words that are used for “new”. One is “neos”, and it is “a new version, or “type” of something that already exists, for example, a new car. We can build a new car, and in fact, new cars are constantly being built daily, however they are not new to the world, as cars have existed since the turn of the 20th century.
The other Greek word used for “new” is “kainos”, and it is something that is new to the world, and has never existed before”, it is in this sense that the LORD is speaking in this passage (Isaiah 65:17), as well as in Revelation verse 5, where HE says, “Behold, I make all things new”.
In verse 22, of John’s revelation, he reveals that there is no temple in this “new” Jerusalem. This may come as a surprise when we consider how precious the temple was to the Jews who lived in the Jerusalem of Isaiah’s day. However, the apostle’s description of the new city, as being in the shape of a cube 1400 miles in width, length, and height, suggests that Jerusalem itself is a temple, having GOD and the LAMB, both, eternally present within it. The city will need no physical edifice to serve as a temple, because, wherever JESUS is, there, the Church will be also. And we should always remember, that, it is the presence of CHRIST JESUS that makes a gathering a Church.
Furthermore, John reveals that there will be no need for light in the New Jerusalem, because the glory of GOD will provide ample illumination with JESUS the CHRIST being its lamp. John also sees a city whose gates will remain open forever, because there will be no night. And in Revelation 21:24 we see that, everyone who is saved will walk in the light of this wonderful city, and they will bring with them, the glory and honor that is uniquely their own.
From every nation of the earth, we have extracted some unique gift or talent, and our gifts and talents are our glory, given to us by GOD. To the Romans we owe for the ability to organize, formulate, and administer governmental law. And to the Greeks we owe for theology. But, on a smaller scale, every person that comes into the Church, for the purpose of serving, has talents and gifts that the LORD can use.
Shifting gears, in verse 27, John concludes chapter 21 of Revelation with a stern warning to those who refuse to discontinue in the evilness of their ways. Those who refuse to depart from evil will be forever barred from becoming citizens of this great new community of GOD. And Isaiah says in 65:20-22 that he envisions that those who are obedient will live as long as trees, but does not speak of the same eternal life as John does. However, in both instances it is safe to say that, “It is not the “repentant sinner”, but rather, it is the “defiant sinner”, whose name will not be found in the LAMB’s Book of Life. All defiant sinners will be barred from entrance into the city of GOD.
All in all, it doesn’t really matter what we take away from these prophetic, mysterious accounts of these men of GOD. And, in spite of what we think, their central focus will forever remain consistent as their writings continue to be passed down from generation to generation. The lingering message found within these passages, is one that is crystal clear despite their reputations of having enormous complexities. They simply serve to remind us that, in times of great conflict, GOD’s people must remain faithful, humble, and patient to the end.
The promise of victory through CHRIST, over the forces of the evil one, is something that is virtually assured. And to the unbeliever I have only this statement; “It is a life-changing thing, both, getting to know, and, becoming accustomed to practicing, the word of GOD. GOD’s word has already come, in fact, it has been with us since the beginning, and it simply cannot be, nor, will not be, disregarded. GOD’s word is synonymous with life, and therefore, it is effective and penetrating. It absolutely scrutinizes all of our thoughts, desires and intentions.
All things lay naked before GOD, as HE simply sees all, hears all, and knows all that we do. And every one of us will have to make an account for the deeds done in our lifetime, and, whether or not we believe that HE exists, therefore, becomes totally irrelevant.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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