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The Substance is come and the Shadow has gone; and we do not remember it


Spurgeon“Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye 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.”—Isaiah 65:17-19

THIS PASSAGE, like the rest of Isaiah’s closing chapters, will have completest fulfillment in the latter days when Christ shall come, when the whole company of his elect ones shall have been gathered out from the world, when the whole creation shall have been renewed, when new heavens and a new earth shall be the product of the Savior’s power, when, for ever and for ever, perfected saints of God shall behold his face, and joy and rejoice in him.

I hope and believe that the following verses will actually describe the condition of the redeemed during the reign of Christ upon the earth:

“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old. 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 mine 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. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.”

But the work which is spoken of in the text is begun already among us. There is to be a literal new creation, but that new creation has commenced already; and I think, therefore, that even now we ought to manifest a part of the joy. If we are called upon to be glad and rejoice in the completion of the work, let us rejoice even in the commencement of it. The Lord himself will joy and rejoice, and we who are in sympathy with him are exhorted and even commanded to be glad; let us not be slack in this heavenly duty.

Do you know what this work of creation is, which is here thrice promised in the words, “I create.. I create.. I create”? It is evidently a second creation, which is altogether to eclipse the first, and put it out of mind. Shall I tell the story?

The first creation was so fair that, when the Lord looked upon it, with man as its climax and crown, he said, “It is very good;” but it failed in man who should have been its glory. Man sinned; and in his sin he was so connected with the whole of the earth, that he dragged it down with him. The slime of the serpent passed over everything. The taint of sin marred the whole of God’s work in this lower world. The creation was made subject to vanity, and it groaneth in pain together until now. But the Infinitely Blessed would not be defeated, and in infinite condescension he determined that he would make a new creation which should rise upon the ruins of the first. He resolved that under a second Adam something more than Paradise should be restored to the universe. He purposed that he would undo, through Jesus Christ, the Seed of the woman, all the mischief that had been wrought by the serpent. He has commenced to undo this mischief, and to work this now creation, and so commenced that he will never withdraw his hand till the work is done. He has commenced it thus—by putting new hearts into as many as he has called by his Spirit, regenerating them, and making them to become new creatures in Christ Jesus. These the apostle tells us are a kind of firstfruits of this now creation. We are the commencement of the future ingathering. Our new-born spirits are the first ripe ears of corn out of a wonderful harvest that will come by-and-by.

By-and-by (our) bodies shall be new-created, when, from beds of dust and silent clay, they shall upleap into immortal beauty. The resurrection will be to the body what regeneration is to the soul. When body and soul are thus created anew, the whole earth around them, in which they shall dwell, shall be, at the same time, renewed also; and so God shall make the spirits, the minds, the bodies, and the bodies of men, all now. These bodies, quickened by his Spirit who dwelleth in us, and united to souls purified and refined, shall tread upon an earth delivered from the curse, and shall be canopied beneath new heavens. Have they not new desires? Should not all above them be new? They shall tread a new earth for they have new ways.

There is one reason why you are called upon to rejoice in this, namely, that you are a part of it. When the angels saw God making this world, they sang together, and shouted for joy; but they were not a part of this lower world. They had nothing to do with man’s estate, save as a matter of sympathy. But as for this new creation of our gracious God, you and I, beloved, who have believed in Jesus, are part of it. That same grace, which has quickened others into new life, has quickened us. The same Spirit, who has given new principles and new desires to others, has given them to us also. The Father hath begotten us again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We are the central beings of the new creation, and so let us joy and rejoice in it with all our soul, and mind, and strength.

Brethren, did any one of you ever weep because you did not sit at the Passover? Did you ever regret the Paschal lamb? Oh, never, because you have fed on Christ! Was there ever man that knows his Lord that ever did lament that he had not the sign of the old Abrahamic covenant in his flesh? Nay, he gladly dispenses with the rites of the old covenant, since he has the fullness of their meaning in his Lord. The believer is circumcised in Christ, buried in Christ, risen in Christ, and in Christ exalted to the heavenly places. Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, or any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews? Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacles, or the dedication? No, because, though those were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and we now live under new heavens and a new earth…

The substance is come, and the shadow has gone; and we do not remember it!

*From C.H. Spurgeon’s sermon, God Rejoicing in the New Creation

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