How can God fully heal and restore what we've lost? The Eighth Day points to an amazing answer for all mankind - it is also a personal answer for us as individuals.
[Mr. Steven Britt]: ...all of our music performers this week, the choir, you’ve been amazing. It’s such a wonderful way to glorify God and come before Him joyfully praising.
I’m not going to ask how you’re doing. You’re going to ask me how I’m doing. You ready? On a count of three, you’re going to say, “How are you doing?” Ready? One, two, three…
[Audience]: “How are you doing?”
[Mr. Steven Britt]: “Man, I’m having the best day of my life! If I was any better I couldn’t stand it!” My daddy must have said that ten thousand times. Any time someone asked how he was doing: “Man, I’m having the best day of my life! Any better, I couldn’t stand it!” Don’t know where he got it from. He died at 46 years old. He was not part of God’s Church. He’s at the top of my list for who I want to see again in the Second Resurrection. And we’re going to talk about that today. We’ve already heard about it from Mr. Scott.
Today, I think most of us remember and spend some time thinking about those that we’ve lost who were not part of God’s Church. We know those who die in the faith we look forward to seeing together with Christ at the First Resurrection. But those that are not called in this age are part of the rest of the dead, to rise at the end of the thousand years. We think about our lost loved ones, or friends, whoever it may be, because this is the day that God promises to raise them up out of their graves and do something wonderful for them in their lives, just as He’s doing for us today.
On a universal scale, it’s salvation for all humanity. It’s God’s justice, His fairness, His love, for all mankind! There is no better message than that! The Eighth Day pictures the time when God will make things right – at long last.
The other fall Holy Days preceding it picture the turning point of God intervening in human affairs, setting humanity on a good, right, straight path, beginning the process of healing the earth, opening His calling to all people.
Let’s take our Bibles. Turn with me to Joel 2:25 Joel 2:25And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
American King James Version×. These words stuck out to me a couple months ago when we were going through it in a Bible study. It talks about the – in the book of Joel – it goes through all of the horrible things that will come on the earth. It lists four or five different kinds of locusts that are going to devour and eat everything, leaving people in a terrible famine, many other horrors of the tribulation to come. We know that God’s message is a message of hope. This is what God says will come after those difficult, difficult days. God says:
Joel 2:25-27 Joel 2:25-27  And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
 And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that has dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
 And you shall know that I am in the middle of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
American King James Version× – “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. And you shall eat and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you. And My people will never be put to shame.”
So God said He would restore the years of hardship. How? By giving years of abundance – years of plenty.
I have a hard question for you: Does a blessing today really make up for years of suffering? That alone does not undo what happened in the past. We experience deep wounds in life – physical and emotional – wounds that leave scars – scars on our flesh, on our minds, on our hearts. We all have wounds that are scarred over from years of hardship and pain. Do you not? I do! What’s God going to do about the scars? What’s the nature of God’s healing? Is it complete? Or is it partial? I’ve got to believe it’s complete, but how does that work?
What about when Jesus healed Malchus’ ear when Peter cut it off. Do you think when Jesus Christ healed that ear, that He healed it with a scar left? It doesn’t say. I would suppose not. But this has got to be a mystery – a great mystery. We might ask God, “How can You truly restore to me the things that I have lost in my life? I’m not talking about just giving me something better for the future, but how can You really restore the things I have lost?”
It is in this day, the Eighth Day, the Last Great Day, picturing this resurrection of the rest of the dead, when God will fully heal every wound – when He will right every wrong of the past for you – for all.
Turn with me to Isaiah 65:16 Isaiah 65:16That he who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from my eyes.
American King James Version×. It speaks of the wonderful time to come after the dead are raised, that is, the rest of the dead – that Second Resurrection.
Isaiah 65:16-23 Isaiah 65:16-23  That he who blesses himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from my eyes.
 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
 But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
 There shall be no more there an infant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.
American King James Version× – “...the former troubles are forgotten because they are hidden from My eyes. For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create, for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing. And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in My people. The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. And no more shall an infant from there live but a few days.” - These horrible situations that happen in our time. “...will be no more. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days. For the child shall die one hundred years old. The sinner, being one hundred years old, shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” We’re given a picture here of people living a full, physical, human life, unobstructed from the influence of Satan the devil, unobstructed from the heartache of sickness and disease and hurt and pain that are permeating this world today. “They shall not build and another inhabit. They shall not plant and another eat. For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain nor bring forth children for trouble. For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.”
God’s plan is not to go back in time and undo the bad things that have happened. So how, again, can God restore what we’ve lost? If He’s not going to go back in time and fix the wrongs that happened to you and me, how’s He going to restore it?
God’s plan is better than a do-over. He says it’s going to be so great, that those former things won’t even come to mind!
Today, I want to spend some time trying to make this message of hope personal to every one of us here today, so that God’s hope from the Scriptures can really sustain us through trials that we face. We’re going to start by looking at the life of a man who lost much, who suffered much, and was every bit in much need of God’s restoration – His healing – as we find ourselves. That man’s name is Jacob.
The story of Jacob can be found in Genesis, chapter 46. Really, that’s toward the end of the story of Jacob, where I’ll pick it up. Genesis, chapter 46 – here we meet Jacob toward the end of his life. God has shown him deliverance from a famine that had encased the entire known world at the time – deliverance that came from the hand of his own son, Joseph. Here God speaks to Jacob in Genesis 46:1 Genesis 46:1And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
American King James Version×.
Genesis 46:1-3 Genesis 46:1-3  And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
 And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
 And he said, I am God, the God of your father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of you a great nation:
American King James Version×– “Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba.” He’s making his way toward Egypt to see his long-lost son Joseph. “And he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.” He worshiped. Verse two: “And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and He said, ‘Jacob, Jacob!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ And so He said, ‘I am God, God of your father. Do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again. And Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.’”
God had made tremendous promises to Jacob, the man who was renamed Israel – huge promises to Jacob – to his family, prior to this – promises that were still unfulfilled at that time. And here he is, with his family, weathering a brutal famine, but God gives relief. God reiterates the promise. He gets that relief by the hand of the son he thought he had lost forever – Joseph. Wouldn’t that make you happy – finding a long-lost son, still alive, prospering, thriving, reunited, saved out of affliction? Let me ask you, did that restore the years to Jacob? I’m not convinced it did.
Every family has its own difficulties. There was a reckoning to be had over the years of perpetuated lies Joseph’s brothers made to their father about what they had done. It seems that Jacob, in his time, must have learned a lot of grace and extended that grace to his sons in a way where…we just don’t see in scriptures that he dealt with them harshly, as you might think a man would in that situation. I can’t imagine that he was able to even do that without enduring substantial emotional torment – enduring the years of missing his son, and then to find out he’s alive, which means those other sons lied to his face about something that was most precious to him! And what about all the other sorrows of his life? What about all the years of family turmoil with his brother Esau hunting him down – wanting to kill him? What about with his father-in-law – being cheated and dealt with wrongly? You can read about the other sins of his sons that brought him a lot of grief. You can read about troubles between his wives. All kinds of hardships.
It’s no wonder, when we come to Genesis 47, starting in verse 7, he’s brought in to meet Pharaoh with his son Joseph.
Genesis 47:7-9 Genesis 47:7-9  And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
 And Pharaoh said to Jacob, How old are you?
 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
American King James Version× – “Joseph brought in his father Jacob and sat him before Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh” – gave God’s blessing to the man. “And Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How old are you?’” This is where Jacob’s disposition differs greatly from that of my own father. “Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years.’” Long life, we would think, but he says: “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life.” Not exactly saying “Best day of my life! If I was any better I couldn’t stand it.” “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” You can kind of get through this that he was hanging on to some heavy, heavy emotions, was he not? 130 years old, dripping with heartache.
My grandaddy died at 82 years old three years ago. The way he talked toward the end of his life was much like what Jacob said here. “Few and evil.” As he put it, “The golden years ain’t so golden.” Things got hard. Grandaddy is number two on my list of who I look forward to seeing in the Second Resurrection. When I lost my father, he lost a son, and the last few years of his life, he lost his wife to Alzheimer’s. My grandma is still alive. He saw much strife within his family at the end of his days.
Continuing with Jacob in Genesis 48:
Genesis 48:1-2 Genesis 48:1-2  And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, your father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
 And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, your son Joseph comes to you: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat on the bed.
American King James Version× – “It came to pass after these things that Joseph has told, ‘Indeed your father is sick.’ And he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and Jacob was told, ‘Look, your son Joseph is coming to you.’ And Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed.”
Think of what this man lost in his life, and here he is, now knowing his son is alive and well, but he has missed the best years of his life with his son. He’s here ready to bless his grandchildren, but he doesn’t know them because he wasn’t there. He barely has the strength to talk to his son. He has to gather his strength just to sit up in bed. I can’t imagine he wasn’t joyful to be reunited, but how can you not feel like it’s too little too late in that situation? Didn’t fix or undo or heal the years of suffering. Verse 3:
V-3-4 – “Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.”’”
And yet, here they were. His family has grown to 70 persons, we’re told. And now, they are basically refugees in Egypt – later, it ends up in slavery – hadn’t received any of those promises yet. He believed in them, though, and that counts for something. That’s important.
In verses 5 and 6, he redefines the lines of family inheritance to make Ephraim and Manasseh full sons of his in Joseph’s place. Verse 7 – he recounts more of his hardship, more of his sorrow:
Genesis 48:7 Genesis 48:7And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.
American King James Version× – “‘And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel” – this is Joseph’s mother – “died beside me in the land of Canaan along the way when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem’” – the love of his life taken from him at an early age.
Jacob’s life is certainly not the hardest human life on record. I think I can say that pretty safely. Neither is mine. Most likely, neither is yours. Not a title we want to compete for – hardest or worst life on record – but please realize this: that every human life is hard enough – hard enough to show that we need something altogether different, something altogether better, something better in terms of quality than this, something better in terms of quantity than this. Just as he said, “few and evil have been my days.” He wanted more of them! He finally was there with his son and he wanted more time and he just didn’t have it.
Verses 8 through 14 – barely able to see, Jacob reaches out, asks a profound blessing on the generations to come. The fulfillment of many of God’s promises were bound up in those blessings that neither he nor his descendants to that point would inherit, but in fact, has come upon his descendants in the last days, which we’ve seen and understand. It’s amazing.
Verse 15 – we see a little bit further into this man’s heart. You know, for whatever doubt or pain he was experiencing, when he opens up and starts talking about God and talking to God to bless those boys, we see a different perspective down inside – here at the end of his life.
V-15-16 – “He blessed Joseph and said, ‘God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil….’”
Doesn’t sound so weighted down when he speaks of God. He sounds full of hope right there! Why this contrast? Why this difference? The word fed, as it’s translated in the New King James, is really a weak translation of a word that means more nearly shepherded – taken care of like a sheep – with the care of a shepherd. “God who has shepherded me all my life.” And here he had been a very stubborn, a very wild sheep in his time. He’d made his own life more difficult than it needed to be in many ways. But God had plans for him all along, as he kept finding out.
V-16 – “…the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil.” So when he said, “Few and evil have been my days,” he understood that God redeems him from all evil. Even when things were so bad he could hardly stand it, he knew this. Redeemed means “to be bought back, to be paid for.” He was redeemed from evil, meaning he no longer belonged to the evil that had overtaken him for most of his life – no longer controlled by the evil things that had happened to him. He had been bought by God. He fully belonged to God.
Jacob seemingly had a lot of difficulty reconciling the hardship of his human life with the faithfulness and goodness of God to grant the promises that had been reiterated, but just were not yet seen. Do we have difficulty accepting sometimes what God gives us in the present? I think we do. Verse 17 – Joseph did. And Joseph, by all accounts, was this really righteous man.
V-17 – “When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the hand of Ephraim, it displeased him.” The man had swapped his hands, got the right hand on the younger one. That’s not supposed to happen! Joseph goes about undoing it. “He took hold of his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. But Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, this one is the firstborn.’ His father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know.’”
You see, he knew that this was what God had led him to say and it was different than Joseph expected. So even for Joseph in that moment…. You know, just like us, we don’t always understand, expect, or even like what God is doing at a particular moment in our life. That’s our insufficiency – not with God’s plan – it’s our insufficiency. We always have to be ready to admit, though, that His ways and His thoughts are higher and better than our own. Scripture teaches us that – that God has blessings in store that we cannot foresee or quite comprehend when things don’t go the way that we plan. Even Joseph – a righteous man – had a hard time accepting God’s will when it didn’t seem right, or clear, to him.
We get to the end of this episode in verse 21:
V-21 – “Israel said to Joseph, ‘Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers.’” Kind of makes you wonder if he really understood there had been a prophecy to Abraham that the family would be in Egypt and go into bondage for hundreds of years – several generations. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but it’s important that he trusted in God either way to be faithful to his family in the end because the promises were clear.
I want to turn back to chapter 47 – the end of chapter 47 – verse 29:
Genesis 47:29 Genesis 47:29And the time drew near that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said to him, If now I have found grace in your sight, put, I pray you, your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray you, in Egypt:
American King James Version× – “When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh and deal kindly and truly with me.’” This was important to him. He made his son swear to something. “‘Please do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. You shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ Then he said, ‘Swear to me.’ And he swore to him. So, Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.”
What had God told Jacob? What was the pattern of Jacob’s whole life when it came to God’s blessings? He was always trying to do it himself, wasn’t he? When he was not yet born, the promises were made to him, not his older brother Esau. And still, he swindled his brother out of the birthright for a bowl of soup. And God had already made the promises to him. Didn’t need to do that for God’s plan to take effect. Again, beyond the birthright, he stole the blessing of Esau by deceit! Lied to his father! Dressed himself up in goat skins so he’d smell like an animal like Esau did, to trick his father into blessing him when God had already put that blessing on him. Trying to do everything by his own power. And now, what do we read in Genesis 46, and verse 4? God said, “I will bring you up again!” And yet, at the end of his life, he is making these arrangements to ensure that his son takes his bones up. It’s got to make you smile a little bit. You know, one last time in his life, grappling with, “Ahhh, I know what God says, but...how’s it going to be fulfilled? How’s it going to be fulfilled? How can this happen? Somebody’s got to take my bones! Son, swear to me.”
None of us is perfect. We get a little taste of Jacob’s imperfection here. It applies to us. Our understanding is not perfect. Our obedience is not perfect. Our faith is not perfect.
How is God going to bring Jacob up again? Turn with me to Hebrews, chapter 11. We were there in the message yesterday. Hebrews, chapter 11 – the heroes of faith. These, who, we’re told, died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them far off. Hebrews 11:21 Hebrews 11:21By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.
American King James Version×shows us that Jacob was part of that.
Hebrews 11:20-22 Hebrews 11:20-22  By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.
 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
American King James Version× – “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.” You know, in his life, having seen all this hardship, all this affliction, not having seen those promises come to bear, it was in faith that he blessed the boys – that prophetic blessing. And it goes on – verse 22: “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel” – seeing it didn’t happen in his time – “and gave instructions concerning his bones” – much like his father did.
And you know, then it skips down to Moses. I was thinking about that. God is going to make good on this unfulfilled-as-yet promise to Jacob. God will bring Jacob up in the First Resurrection at the return of Christ, just like He said: “I will bring you up” – just like He promised. He points to the resurrection of the saints at the coming of Christ. There’s hope even beyond that, and greater than that, because, what about the rest of the man’s family? We see Joseph mentioned here. What about the other sons of Jacob? Like I pointed out, it skips right down to Moses after Joseph. It doesn't comment on Reuben, Gad, Issachar, any of those fellas. It doesn’t mean that they, in particular, won’t be in the First Resurrection. We don’t know. We’re not given a lot of detail about their lives. We’re given a few ugly details of their lives, but their personal relationship with God…we just don’t know.
Turn with me back to Ezekiel 37, where we read earlier today. We’ll point this out, that whatever the case, for them, we know that Israel’s family did grow, that it did extend far and wide, and that so many of them did in their days in ignorance and disobedience, in spite of the special calling of God. I mean, what would this man, Israel, think if he saw the waywardness of his descendants – generation after generation after generation? Following other gods! Doing every kind of abomination! But then Ezekiel 37:12 Ezekiel 37:12Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
American King James Version×, we get a little more clarity than what Jacob may have had.
Ezekiel 37:12 Ezekiel 37:12Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
American King James Version×– “Prophesy, and say to them” – that is, them that have been resurrected. We read about how they would be brought bone upon bone, sinews and muscles together. “Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God” – to these now physical resurrected people, picturing that second resurrection. “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. And I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the Lord.” “When I have called you up, out of your grave, then you’ll know.” All the vast number of Jacob’s descendants will know. Did Jacob’s other sons have God’s Spirit? I don’t know. But if they didn’t, seems like there’s something still in store for them.
God’s work of restoration – we have to understand – only begins with the Millennium – that thousand-year period. These verses in Ezekiel 37 take place after the thousand years, when the rest of the dead are raised that we read about from Revelation 20. These are people who lived totally wayward lives, never truly understanding God’s calling, but here, shown being brought into covenant with God Almighty, having His Spirit in them, just as we have access to today.
Back in Ezekiel 36, it prophesies more about this. Ezekiel 36:24 Ezekiel 36:24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
American King James Version×. It says:
Ezekiel 36:24 Ezekiel 36:24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
American King James Version× – “I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.” This is to the people of Israel, scattered as they would have been.
“And I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
This is what God has in store for all mankind who’ll be resurrected – the physical descendants of Israel, as well as those we heard about of Sodom, of Tyre and Sidon – people that were otherwise lost in the darkness.
You know, it’s wonderful to look at these prophecies and how they fulfill to us now, in our calling, but to recognize, as we do on this day, that this is offered to all mankind. So, I ask again, “How will God restore the years?” All mankind will experience the greatest family reunion any one of us could ever possibly imagine. Every father and mother will see their children grown. Not groan, but grown up. We see our children groan all the time. They’ll see their childrens’ children. You know, Joseph’s mother, she was long dead by the time he was reunited with his family. How many of us lament of what our mom or dad would have missed in our life? Or how many on the other hand have endured the awful loss of a child? Or a beloved spouse? God is going to heal that! He’s going to heal that for us! For me, and for you.
Turn with me to Revelation, chapter 21, and we’ll read about how. Revelation 21:1 Revelation 21:1And 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.
American King James Version×. This is the end. This is after we have seen that resurrection of the rest of the dead at the end of the period of judgment.
Revelation 21:1 Revelation 21:1And 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.
American King James Version×– “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’” – much as we read in Isaiah 65. In fact, Isaiah 65 said at that same time, the former things will not even come to mind. What we read about here can only be described as full, complete, holistic, healing from God – beyond what we can really fathom – healing without scars, God wiping away every tear of mourning and trading them for tears of joy. How can He do that? How? Well, verse 5: “He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”
“I make all things new.” This isn’t the kind of healing that your body does when you get a cut and it leaves a scar. This is getting a new body, which we’re promised. You know, think about the scars on your body. Your new spirit body will not have those physical scars. Scripture indicates not just that we have this awesome, incredible, future ahead of us – reigning with Christ in the Kingdom, but that we will also have the full removal of the pain and the heartache that we have incurred along the way because of sin in the world, including our own sin. Does that mean we won’t remember who we were, and the things we did, and the people we knew, because they won’t come to mind? Is this a Men In Black style mind-wipe that leaves us in an “ignorance is bliss” stupor for eternity? No. We’re going to be made like Jesus Christ. Does Jesus Christ remember His human life on earth? Last I checked, yes, He does. He’s spirit. He’s at the right hand of the Father. He remembers full well who He was, and so will we. We will know. We will go into eternity knowing who we were – the things we did.
So again, I ask, how is this possible? How can God heal this emotional pain? If we don’t get a do-over – if it’s not undone – how is it healed? How do you heal an emotional scar? I can understand getting a new body – right? – and the physical scars are gone. But how do you heal those emotional scars to make them like they never happened?
God does give an analogy in the form of childbirth. One example of that in Scripture is found in John 16:21 John 16:21A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
American King James Version×. I won’t turn there, but John 16:21 John 16:21A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
American King James Version×. It’s used in a number of places – childbirth. We’re told that when a child of God is brought fully into the Kingdom, born into the Kingdom, the labor pains of life become a distant memory, just like, ladies, those pains of childbirth become a distant memory for you physically. Ladies, can you remember your labor pains? Okay, I’m sure you remember them. But what you can’t do is make yourself feel them right now – the way you felt when that happened. Men, think about the worst, most searing, most terrible, excruciating pain you have ever had. You can think about it. You can’t make yourself relive it.
Emotional pain is different than that, isn’t it? I mean, I can sit here and I can probably tell you about something that happened in the fifth grade, and make myself blush, and feel every bit as embarrassed as I did 25 years ago. Emotional pain sticks with us. You know, I can’t sit here and recreate the sensation of physical pains I’ve felt, but those emotional wounds? It’s like they just never close up!
We remember physical pains that happened in the past. We remember that they hurt. But they do not, and cannot hurt us in the present. That’s what God is offering here. It’s the end of the emotional trauma. It’s the closing and healing, completely, of the emotional wounds – the full healing, being made new. God’s not moving us forward into eternity covered in the scars of our past, still hurting – feeling like it’s too little too late. You know, our minds suffer trauma from terrible experiences. Scars on our memory, scars on our history.
When we receive understanding as God has it, when we truly have the mind of Christ – not just in our attitude as we take it on today, but in the fullness of being as an eternal spirit being – when we can perceive everything as God does, we will know the goodness of God. We will know that all things He has done have been good from the beginning. And what a comfort that is, as hard as it is for us.
No matter what happens to us, and no matter what hardship we face, we have a living hope through our Savior – our living Savior Jesus Christ – the promise that “I will bring you up again,” that God’s plan is certain. We have the promise of God that these few and wicked days we have on the earth are not our end – the promise of God that when we suffer for the sake of His Kingdom it is not in vain. It’s not wasted. The promise of God that we will see those that we love again. And importantly, that we’ll get the time with them that we missed. That they’ll have the same choice as we did, and be able to join us in eternal life in the family of God. The promise that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and He means it.
I have an assignment for everyone. For when you leave here today – or maybe it’ll come tomorrow – what I want you to utilize is what I’ll call your first quiet moment – your first quiet moment. Maybe for some of you that’ll be tonight when you get the kids to bed and you get to plop down on the couch, maybe for some it’ll be when you get just out of town on that first stretch of highway, where you can put on the cruise control and think, maybe it won’t be until after you’ve reintegrated into work this week, and you come into Friday night and you rest on God’s Sabbath. But whenever your first quiet moment is, I want you to have a very important conversation with God. Don’t turn on the TV. Don’t turn on the radio. Take that first quiet moment, and ask God, “How will You restore what I have lost? You know, we’ve heard the answer for all mankind, but how does that apply to me, to my family? God, how will You restore what I have lost?” And have that conversation. Tell Him about what you have lost – and be specific. Tell God about the loved ones you missed. Tell Him about the horrible traumatic trial that’s still imprinted on your mind and keeps you up at night and troubles you daily. Tell Him how you suffer. If you start that conversation, I promise you God will answer. His answer will sound a lot like the scriptures we read today, but it will be personalized to you. It will be your answer. God will speak to you by His Spirit, and He will comfort you as you pray to Him and consider how His plan is not just for all mankind in the general sense, but to you and your family.
We’ve seen it for the family of Jacob. We’ve talked about it. You know, if I’m here as a teacher, I suppose I should have done the homework in advance, so I want to share with you my conversation with God. I said to God, “What would I be satisfied for all the hurts in my life? What will it take? When would I consider the years to be restored to me? Not just to have a wonderful eternal life with You, Father – this wonderful inheritance – but when will every wrong be made right for me? What will that look like?”
God’s answer to me was this: When my father lives again and is cancer-free, when I can speak to him again freely – because the cancer that took away his ability to speak toward the end of his life will never again come on him – when I can play back the videos of his granddaughter that he didn’t live to meet, and I can tell him how much I learned from, and benefitted from his example, long after his death, when his father – my granddaddy – lives again, when Isaiah 65 is fulfilled for him, when he gets to see my lost uncle who died at six months old…. I love my uncles. I have one I never met – died at six months old when my grandfather was just a young boy himself. He carried the weight of that his entire life, and he told me so, as he was in affliction at the end of his days. …when he sees his firstborn son grow into a man that he didn’t get to do during his human life, when he sees his favorite son, my father, again, alive, living out his own days, when he can have a conversation with his wife again, my grandma, who will also be healed from Alzheimer’s at that time – a disease that put them through a living hell for the last years of his life – when Ezekiel 37 is fulfilled for them, and I can sit down together with them all and tell them that “God has made you alive again,” and then they will know, and I can tell them the wonderful reason why God made them alive again – so that they can come to know Him, so that we can walk together in the Kingdom of God, so that they can learn and live the way of life, so that they can enter into New Jerusalem with me and with Jesus Christ. And we can all be together in the Kingdom of peace and righteousness. And they understand the truth of who God is and what He wants for them and what He requires of them and when they have had the time to spend a lifetime working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, as Paul put it in Philippians 2:12 Philippians 2:12Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
American King James Version×.
As I spoke to God all these things, when all that has taken place – and it surely will by the promise of God – I’ll be satisfied – satisfied that God has completed the justice and fairness that He promises to all the families of the earth.
Your family story will have different moving parts to it, but it will be no less beautiful. It will be no less good and right, because that’s the faithfulness of God. Our scars are not merely going to be covered over with ugly scar tissue for eternity. All things will truly be made new.
So, we can join in saying, “Few and evil have been the days of my life.” Haven’t they? Doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the goodness God gives us, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t look forward to the promises to come, but it helps us remember and have perspective that every part of our human life is nothing compared with the glory and the healing and restoration to come. The bad will not even be remembered, because the good will be so good – so much better that even, say, the best day of your life will not be able to compare. If God’s plan were any better, we wouldn’t be able to stand it.
I hope you carry this message of hope with you from here. Take my advice and have this conversation with God, and let Him speak to you. Know that God will make things right, and that these promises are not just for mankind in a broad, untouchable sense. They are for you, they are for your family, they are for your children. May God grant you all safe travels home and peace in your life with hope for tomorrow.