17 “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth – so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore. 18 Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more. 20 “No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only sinners will die that young! 21 In those days, people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. 22 It will not be like the past, when invaders took the houses and confiscated the vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees and will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains. 23 They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the LORD, and their children, too, will be blessed. 24 I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! 25 The wolf and lamb will feed together. The lion will eat straw like the ox. Poisonous snakes will strike no more. In those days, no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
Descriptions of heaven like this, I can really relate to. When the Bible goes on about the precious jewels, streets of transparent gold, a pearl as big as a gate, I simply can’t relate. It sounds really nice, but I guess I just can’t picture it. I’ve never had those things or even been around them. Jewels and gold have never meant much to me.
However, when I read descriptions such as the one in this chapter, I get very excited. No more tears? No more goodbye? No more pain? I CAN relate to these things…and I long for heaven.
Now – having said all that…
After reading this section over and looking at a few commentaries on the chapter, I have a few questions. If this is indeed talking about heaven what about some of these things:
I’m confused in verse 20 where it says, “No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only sinners will die that young!” If this is “heaven” what is this about sinners? In heaven people will live to be more than 100, but only sinners will die young. (kinda ruins the Billy Joel song, doesn’t it?)
Furthermore, if this is describing heaven – we’ll live in houses we build? drink wine from vineyards we have to keep up? And what are these hard-won gains we will live to enjoy? Building our own houses? Hard-won gains? Work in vain? WORK? We will be blessed and our children, too? We’ll have children in heaven? Does this mean there will be sex in heaven?
One of the beauties of dBrag and blogs like this is that we get to discuss the scriptures, kinda like they did in the Bible times. I took these questions to a good pastor friend of mine. Here’s his response (he gave me permission to quote him):
Now for the easy part, GOODNESS! I DON’T KNOW! I will propose a hypothesis, however. Possibly one of two things is going on here. One, this is a reference to the Milennial reign of Rev. 20. Not much is known of this time period, except that satan is bound and apparently the nations still exist because he will be released to tempt them again after this 1000 years. Perhaps with satan bound all the rules of life and death are different not unlike the earth before the flood when people lived such long lives. But this would not be an actual physical new heaven and earth, becasue that comes in Rev. 21, only a new way of existence on the old one. Keep in mind that for the Hebrews, heavens usually meant the air and sky where birds fly, and sometimes space where the stars are.
Possibility Two: This is the one I lean towards most as of 11:13 AM CST of 4 Dec. 2006. (Prone to change at any moment) The Jews didn’t have much of a concept of eternal life in the OT. And No idea of a heaven (where God dwells) vs. Hell. So their idea of a perfect existence revolved around living in a place without all the things that plague and hurt them most. The best concept they had of heaven would be a place where you didn’t die young, the old didn’t die without reaching an age considered a full life; If you built a house, you benefitted from it, dug a vinyeard, you enjoyed its fruit. This would be a life in a world free of doom and misfortune (v.24) and a place where the lion would lie safely with the lamb. the punishment of sin from Adam will be lifted and the enmity placed between animals after the flood will be gone. In their limited way of thinking, this would be “heaven” to them. Thats the only way the Holy Spirit through Isaiah could describe it so as to give them an idea of how wonderful it will be. Will there be death as mentioned in v.20? I don’t think so, but for the hebrews of that day the thought of living in a world where those who die young would die at 100 would have been considered Paradise!
I would suggest that our understanding of heaven is probably considerably limited as well. Streets of Gold? Pearly Gates? Many Mansions?? Why would God care about these things? But these are the best we can imagine in OUR limited thinking so they become our image of heaven. Truth be told, there is NO description of heaven that can do it justice. Paul was caught up to heaven and could not describe it.
Makes sense. It’s good to have wise friends, no?
I’m trying to learn how to consider scriptures within the context they were given. In other words, the Jewish culture in the times these verese were written is very different from our American, 21st century culture. You have to consider what was going on around them. You have to consider that they didn’t know Jesus Christ and the whole new covenant in a personal way, they’ve only read about it coming some day.
Good stuff to think about.
Have any thoughts? Please feel free to comment.