ODJ: Cities of Joy and Healing

November 6, 2017 

READ: Isaiah 65:17-25 

Look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness (v.18).

I have a friend, a nurse, who recently went to Thessaloniki, Greece, to work in three refugee camps, primarily serving mothers and young babies who were far from home in the bitter cold. The overwhelming majority of the refugees are from Syria, where their villages and cities, once places of laughter and life, are now mostly rubble. In an email, my friend attached an image of one of the refugee tents where someone had scribbled on the outside: “We are not refugees, we are prisoners here. We want a better life.”

When we see violence ripping countries apart, we mourn with these dear people. We want a better life for them as well. We want the cities they call home to be places of joy again instead of devastation.

The terrors and hopes of refugees are not foreign to God’s people. Through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke to Israel as they sat on the brink of disintegration. God promised He had not forgotten the people’s plight and He intended to do something about it. “Look!” God said, “I am creating new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17). With the arrival of this new reality, this new world, their beloved city that was teetering towards ruin would be renewed. “I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness,” God promised (v.18).

And this promise is still our hope as we struggle through the devastations of today. In God’s new city, “weeping and crying” will vanish as joy and celebration overflow (v.19). This city and her people will be “a source of joy” for all those who surround her (v.18).

And from this New Jerusalem, God’s mercy will flood over every nation and people. When God’s new world arrives, those who have believed in Jesus will experience the joy that flows from Him.

—Winn Collier

365-day-plan: Acts 19:21-41

Read Rev. 21:1-5 and consider what the future “new heaven and new earth” will be like. 
What do you see in your city, the place you call home, that needs to be renewed? How can you participate in God’s renewal now?