Here and Now and Then and There

blue morpho

“be glad and rejoice forever

in what I will create”

Isaiah 65:18



When I was in sixth grade, I had a teacher who excelled at grammar.  He also happened to be the “coolest” teacher in the school, which made grammar cool.  To this day, I can explain the difference between gerunds and appositives, and when to use the nominative form and when to use the objective form.


So what struck me about today’s verse is that there is a “tense disagreement”.  That’s not to say there’s an angry quarrel between these words, but that the tenses in the two clauses do not agree.  The first one is present tense: “be glad and rejoice forever,” as in, continually.  The second one is future tense: “in what I will create” (emphasis mine).


At first glance, this seems impossible ~ to rejoice and be glad now for something that hasn’t even happened yet.  But then I remember: these are God’s words.  They are not an accident, and they are not a suggestion.  And inherent in any of God’s commands is the power to obey them.  With confidence and faith, we can rejoice now, in what He will do.  Anything and everything He will do.


But it gets better.  If you keep reading, and look at verse 17, you’ll see what we are to rejoice in, what He will create ~ “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth…”


Now, if you don’t know God well enough to just trust Him when He says to rejoice, that’s okay.  We’re all skeptical sometimes.  Remember Thomas?  He needed proof.  And Jesus knew that when He called Thomas to be one of the Twelve.  And the name “Thomas” means “twin”.  Wanna know who Thomas’ twin was?  Just locate your nearest mirror.


So if you were one of those kids who hated the answer “because I said so,” then just flip to chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation.  You’ll read things like, “Now the dwelling of God is with them…” and “the Holy city, Jerusalem, came down out of heaven from God.  It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel…” and “sapphire… emerald… amethyst… pearl… pure gold,” and “the Lamb is its light”.  This is what He will create, and how can we not, rejoice and be glad continually, in that?


But wait ~ it gets even better!  In these two verses, where we are given a command to obey in the present, regarding the future… in these verses, He gives us a promise about the past.  Verse 17: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”


Oh, I love this promise!  For there are things in my memory that pain me.  Sins that God has sent to the bottom of the ocean, and He Himself has forgotten, still haunt me.


But when He creates new heavens and a new earth, everything that came before will be forgotten: Sodom and Gomorrah, Hitler, September 11, sins against me, and yes, my personal failures, will all pale into non-existence.  Can I be glad and rejoice in the present, because there is coming a future so beautiful that I will no longer remember the past?


I can.  It is the promise of He who was, and who is, and who is to come.


~ “The Lord is righteous in her midst,

He will do not unrighteousness” ~

Zephaniah 3:5


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