I don’t think it would be a big shock for any of you to hear that people who study such things tell us that a revolution is going on. There’s a revolution going on in how people get their news — and that it mostly depends on your age. For example, if you are older than 65, you are five times more likely than those in their twenties to get your news by watching television, while if you are in your twenties, you are four times more likely to get your news from social media than those who are over 65. What about you? Newspaper – TV – Radio – News Website – Social Media? Obviously there are many ways to get your news and to see the headlines of what’s happening in the world. But however you get your news, would you all agree, no matter your age, that the headlines you read can affect how good or bad you feel for much of the day – or even for much of your life? It just gets depressing, doesn’t it – it can tend to make you feel sad or even sluggish, can’t it – to keep seeing headline after headline that has in them words or thoughts like murder, assault, abuse, accidents, home invasions, political rivalries, and tragedy? Sometimes doesn’t it just seem best to turn off the TV or shut down the app and not have to even deal with earth’s headlines? Brothers and sisters, we need Heaven’s Headlines. To endure the headlines we see on earth we need to hear headlines from another place – from our dear Lord God in heaven. And that is what we get to hear today in the news report – maybe we can call it the Good News report — from Isaiah 65.
Wouldn’t it be great if the only news headline you or I ever read was the headline that God gave Isaiah in the opening verse of our lesson: “Behold I will create a new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor with they come to mind.” And then at the end of verse 19 a couple lines lower: “The sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.” Headline from Heaven: You can live in a place where you will never cry again! It hurts so much, doesn’t it, to see those news reports where there is so much weeping and crying because of what someone has done or because of what has been done to someone? Don’t we constantly hear cries that we have to make this world better — we have to have better programs, better rules, better enforcement, better whatever it may be. And all those cries for something better may be very good and very noble and something we want to truly seek, but “better” will never really cut it, because “better” may be better, but it will never keep us from seeing the same headlines. It will never keep us from seeing the same headlines, because there is in this world out there and in this world in here the same sin — the same inability to live “better” enough to make this world a place free from the headlines of gloom.
We need headlines from another place. We need headlines about a new heavens and a new earth, where the sound of weeping and crying won’t ever be heard again, because there will never be sin again. And that is what God promises us in the place we sang about in the hymn before our sermon:
Jerusalem the golden with milk and honey blest –
The sight of it refreshes the weary and oppressed;
I know not, oh, I know not What joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, What bliss beyond compare:
That is a headline which can change our mood for every day we live, because that is the headline that takes us to a new day – an eternal day – a day that will be ours when Jesus closes our eyes one last time and lets us wake up and see his face in heaven.
For a moment, though, let’s look at some of the facts behind the headlines of Isaiah. Only a few of the people the prophet Isaiah was writing to got what he was saying, because only a few of them knew it was their sins – and everyone’s sins — against God which made the world such a difficult place. Most of those who heard these words, unfortunately, were oblivious to the fact that it was their failure to worship the true God of heaven and earth and to instead focus all their attention on the kind of headlines that led them to satisfy their own sexual desires or financial pocketbooks or desires for power and revenge that was going to end up having their nation of Israel – the place where the Savior would someday be born – be invaded and destroyed by another nation from far away. That is what Isaiah had spent a lot of time talking about in his book before this Good News chapter. That explains some of the pictures he paints in these words. Other people from another nation were going to come in and live in the houses they had built. Other people were going to eat the fruit of the vineyards they had planted. Other people were going to do horrible things to make sure that people among them would not reach an old age and many little ones among them would not make it beyond a young age.
But those who put their hope in heaven’s headlines could still rejoice even in the midst of all the agony and pain, because in heaven it would be just the opposite. Everyone will live forever. No one will ever have to attend a funeral again. Everyone will live forever in the house built by the Lord just for them. No one will ever have to read about homelessness or the destruction of a home by tornado or hurricane or earthquake or flood again. Everyone will enjoy their work and get the benefit of their work and get to rest from their work and never have to have to worry about the loss of work or the removal of a pension at work or the fear of betrayal at work again.
And do you know why? Do you know why heaven’s headlines help us endure earth’s headlines, no matter how difficult they may be? It’s because of the one who came from heaven down to earth to do the difficult work of taking upon himself the headlines of our sins, some of which may be known to others, but all of which are known to God. Yet the God-Man, Jesus Christ, came to die on earth so our heavenly Father could say, “My children, now you will live in the new heavens and the new earth that I have created just for you, that place where my Son Jesus, who rose from the death he died and is now watching over you, is preparing a place for you – the place where you never weep or cry again.”
That is why, as we continue to live in this place, we don’t have to go around sad or sluggish or sulking. In fact, just the opposite. Even in the midst of sadness and badness, God gives us so many greats things and reasons to rejoice. But most importantly he has placed into our hearts the faith to believe that he loves us for the sake of his Son, Jesus; that he has forgiven us everything we have ever done wrong for the sake of his Son, Jesus; that he gives us the privilege of being for others an example of humility and compassion out of thankfulness for his Son, Jesus; and then in the name of his Son, Jesus, he sends us out to let others know about heaven’s headlines – the Good News that explains the bad news of earth and that lifts us up to a different way of thinking, as we keep our minds on things above even as we live and serve our Lord in whatever way he sees fit here below.
You know, I think it’s kind of interesting that the last headline or picture about heaven that Isaiah gives us in verse 25 at the end is that of all those animals getting along with each other. Anyone who has even a basic National Geographic knowledge about animals in the wild knows that it’s a jungle out there, with death and destruction being the norm. But, because as God here says, “dust will be the serpent’s food,” all is good for a child of God. The work of Jesus Christ has caused the serpent, Satan, to lick the dust in defeat. The devil cannot keep us from heaven by anything he tries to accuse of. We are God’s forgiven, dearly loved children. Nor in heaven, if there were wolves and lambs and lions and oxen there, could he keep those wolves and lambs and lions and oxen from loving each other and playing with other and enjoying each other’s company every single day. That is more than enough reason, isn’t it, for all of us little lambs of Jesus to love each other and play with each other and enjoy each other’s company every single day we live here before we get there? What through Christ we will enjoy then is what through Christ we can seek to enjoy more and more right now. And that is what in Christ we have the ability and the privilege to do.
So, everyone, it doesn’t matter how you get earth’s headlines, as long as you know why they are the way they are. Thank God that in the Bible we hear the way it is with God – and therefore the way it is with us. And the way it is with us through Jesus Christ, our dear Savior, is what makes us want to make our own lives a personal headline for all the world to see: Simple Christian Knows the Way to the Place Where He Will Never Cry Again – And He Wants You to Join Him! Let’s do everything we can to spread the News! Amen.