"I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence".
A Tale of Two Cities, Quoted by Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight Rises.
I had a shock in church last night.
We were singing John Newton's Amazing Grace, which had suddenly 'grown' a chorus (which was fine), and a new final verse, which really wasn't.
The lyrics talked about the earth 'melting away like snow' - "The earth shall soon dissolve like snow". Now I know Peter talks about the refining of creation at the end of the age (Greek: kainos, meaning renewal, not neos, meaning brand new) - change that will reform everything, even the very elements - but the end of the material creation is certainly not what's planned here, so why are we happy to sing lyrics which speak about the world being "dissolved"? Why are we still, so often, thinking of the eternal as something less not more real than what we currently know?
In Psalm 93, the Majesty and splendor of the Lord and His throne is married to the establishment and permanence of the earth, which 'shall not be moved' (verse 1). Since the moment God formed this realm through the going forth of His Word and the nurturing of His Spirit, He has had one goal in mind - to dress and beautify creation, through His Son and those who are His kin with the great delight and refreshment God Himself knew on the seventh day, when He sanctified His work and resided within it. The great yearning of all creation, notes Paul in Romans 8, is to escape the futility now imposed upon it because of our rebellion and to live again in the weight and significance of what was and what shall be - that is the great and precious promise God has made to us - "I will never destroy every living thing".
The earth is the Lord's - everything in it is His, made to express and reflect His glory; a living, breathing work of art and beauty, that, in the ages to come, will truly and entirely "sing" of that wonder.
I couldn't sing the new added words to Newton's hymn, but instead, recalled the final verse that I've always sung before: "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise, than when we first begun". The New Jerusalem is on its way, adorned and radiant, from heaven to earth - there we shall truly enjoy and exult the Lamb, forever!
When He renews the land and sky,
All heav'n will sing and earth reply
With one resplendent theme: The glories of our God and King!
from 'Creation Sings' by Keith & Kristen Getty.