There will be no worms in Heaven
“Behold I will do a new thing” (Isa. 43:19)
Happy 2024 everyone! Grace and Peace to you all!
So here we are…another year over, and a new one just begun. I thought of writing on the topic of a new year, but from one year to the next, is it not really just another day? Think about it; not much changes in a twenty four hour period. Whatever problem or issue you had yesterday has most likely followed you into today. The sickness you struggled with yesterday is probably still lingering today, hopefully not as badly. It’s a new year! Isn’t all the fanfare much ado about nothing? “But wait!” Some protest… “This is the year of increase!” Really? Wasn’t last year the “year of increase”? What really increased… My weight? The pain in my back? Let’s be real…2024 will most likely be a year like every other year: there will be surprises and unexpected events; there will be deaths and births, weddings and funerals, joys and sorrows, sickness and healings, disappointments and encouragements, challenges and victories. That is life! As that famous Jewish philosopher, the great Solomon said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). Sorry to be so glum. (Solomon didn’t know Jesus…we do!)
Let me propose a different view of “new years”. The Bible speaks of making the most of every opportunity, literally redeeming the time (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Is it wrong to plan for 2024? Absolutely not! But the reality is that we are to live everyday as if it were our last – living full out for the Lord (Col. 3:17, 23). We do not know if tomorrow will come or not. As James says, “Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:13-15). The key to it all is The Lord! “Did I see the hand of God move in my life? Did I grow closer to Jesus and become more like Him through all of life’s adventures? Has He become my first love yet? Is Jesus my all in all? Do I live to bring the Father glory?” In the words of Paul, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (We should pause and read Phil. 3:8-15 for what the Christian life is really all about).
I spent some time looking for a “new year” in the Bible. Remarkably, it occurs for the first time in Exodus 12 at the institution of the Passover: the sacrifice of the Lamb to set the Israelites free from bondage. It occurs in mid to late March, the first day of the first month of Nisan, the beginning of the agricultural season when the seeds are to be sown. The sacrificed lamb ushers in the beginning of a new year, a new era, a new beginning of Freedom from slavery to sin and bondage to enemy possession. The Israelites are literally transferred from the kingdom of their enemy Pharaoh to the Kingdom of God through the sacrifice of the spotless lamb of God – the blood literally covering them from the judgment that was coming upon ‘the world’. God takes His chosen people through a miraculous deliverance and sows them into a new land flowing with milk and honey! What is the new year to us, but a time to remember when God brought us deliverance through His perfect, spotless Lamb, even Jesus. Our salvation is a new beginning, a new and fresh start to begin a life with God as our Savior, Shepherd, King and Lord. When we receive this free gift of salvation, we become new creations in Christ. Old things have passed away and all things are new (2Cor. 5:17). For many of us, that is the “new year” we celebrate…the date of our new birth in Christ. In retrospect, if we followed a more biblical new year celebration, the new year would begin at Easter time (mid to late March), with the death and resurrection of our Savior, commemorating the deliverance Jesus purchased for us on the cross when God set us free from the power of sin and death, and enemy possession, and transferred us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Son He loves (Col. 1:13).
Now friends, this word “new” is of utmost importance to us. God loves to do new things (Isa. 42:9; 43:19)! He has given us a new heart (Ez. 36:26), a new song (Psa. 40:3), new strength (Isa. 40:31), new mercy for each new day (Lam. 3:23), a new covenant (Heb. 8-10), etc. We are new creations in Christ, with a new heart, and now walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). For me, the “new” year is a great reminder of a new future with a new home, in a new kingdom, all of which has yet to be realized in a new heaven and new earth. With new eyes, because of Christ, I have new vision to see what awaits all of us who “long for His appearing” (2Tim 4:8). This could be the year!
A couple days ago I was walking to the bank on a fine gravel trail between our house and the mall. As many of you know, December has been quite gloomy – little sun, lots of rain, overcast skies, foggy and damp, remarkably warm weather. It had rained for several days so my walk was carpeted with worms, an unusual sight for the end of December in Ontario. As I stepped around these confused worms covered in sand and gravel, most likely going to die with the ensuing evening frost coming, it dawned on me how broken the world is. As many in our church suffer with sickness, and many in our world suffer because of war, famine, disease, poverty, injustice, etc., I became keenly aware that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22-23). The hope of the follower of Jesus is not the absence of pain and suffering in this present life, but that new day, and new year and new beginning when we are liberated from the corruption and decay and brought into our eternal resting place in the New Jerusalem, our heavenly abode, where there is no more death, nor pain, nor tears, nor mourning, nor suffering. Worms remind me of decay, for they feed on decaying matter. Where decay is, there are the worms – that’s the way Jesus describes hell (Mark 9:43-48). There is no decay in heaven! There is a new day coming when decay will cease and worms will no longer be needed. This new year of Jubilee will be a time of bodily redemption, when we will be finally freed once and for all from all of our groanings: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down -- when we die and leave these bodies -- we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing” (2Cor. 5:1-2 NLT). Friends, brothers and sisters in Christ…this could be the year when Jesus returns and takes us to be with Him into the Promised Land; the land promised those who have truly put their faith in Him. This liberation from the ills of this world will be the beginning of the “new” we all long for! As the clock stopped and restarted 2,000 years ago with the arrival of Christ in the world, beginning a new year for the world, so it will do again when He returns. At the consummation of all things, time will stop and eternity in His presence will begin – literally every day will be new. Jesus is the One who makes all things new! Let us live this year to do one thing: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, let’s press on to know Christ more!
Have a blessed and prosperous 2024 as you press into Jesus!
"Advancing the Kingdom of God by releasing Spirit-filled followers to serve Jesus in freedom and joy."