Some additional readings for this lesson: Isaiah 43:19a, Behold, I will do a new thing. KJV Jeremiah 31:31, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant. KJV Isaiah 65:17a, For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. KJV 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation. CJB Matthew 9:16-17, New wine is stored in new wineskins. NLT
These passages, and others, prepare us for the vision of John. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. (v. 1) And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” (v. 5) NLT
We can speculate about a new earth, one without mosquitos perhaps, but we do know how that newness applies to this old earth. Jesus told his disciples before his arrest, I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. NJB The command is new in that following that one command will fulfill all the commandments of God. The command is old in that it has always been in scripture from Genesis on, we just are not very good at obeying that command.
Peter had to learn a hard lesson about how far love goes: he ate forbidden food with forbidden people. Today, we struggle with the idea of loving Muslims, gays, street people, and druggies. Immigration is a hot topic politically and we need to find God’s way of loving them. What we want to do is avoid having to love people who make us uncomfortable by insulating ourselves from them.
We also demonize “those people” by saying they smell, are not Christians, carry disease, are stupid, talk funny, murder people. It is not easy to get past our own bigotry and move into love. Yet, that is the new way.
Jesus spent most of his time with fellow Jews, including those who thought he was dangerous. When he did meet outsiders, he did not condemn or preach, he helped them as they were. He did not tell the Samaritan woman to become a proper Jew, he encouraged her to become more morally right with God. Not a word was spoken to the Centurion about giving up the Roman soldier’s life and becoming a Jew. Each individual must come to God within the context of his own culture. Sometimes, that may not be possible and may require a change of culture.
Be righteous and do good.