Wrapping up Isaiah with new heavens and a new earth

Isaiah heaven earth

Wednesday 07/06/22 

Series: Thru the Bible

Message: Wrapping up Isaiah with new heavens and a new earth

***Video is HERE***

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Wrapping up Isaiah with new heavens and a new earth

Isaiah 63:1-19, 

“(1) Who is this Who comes from Edom, dressed in bright red, coming from Bozrah? Who is this One wearing royal attire, Who marches confidently because of His great strength? 

“It is I, the One Who announces vindication, and Who is able to deliver!”  

(2)  Why are Your clothes red? Why do You look like someone who has stomped on grapes in a vat?  

(3)  “I have stomped grapes in the winepress all by Myself; no one from the nations joined Me. I stomped on them in My anger; I trampled them down in My rage. Their juice splashed on My garments, and stained all My clothes.  

(4)  For I looked forward to the day of vengeance, and then payback time arrived.”

Just so you know, many translations use the words “and the year of My redeemed has come”, and while I believe that is most likely the correct meaning when one takes into account the next verse. It is also a possibility that the meaning of the word is “vengeance” or as the NET translation has it, “payback time”.

You see, the verbal root of the word translated as “My redeemed”, does often mean “deliver, buy back.” 

For example, it is used in the words “kinsman-redeemer” who was responsible for protecting the extended family’s interests, often by redeeming property that had been sold outside the family. 

However, the responsibilities of this person also included a responsibility for avenging the shed blood of a family member – consider the passages in Num. 35:19-27; Deut. 19:6-12). 

Here in this passage, where vengeance is a prominent theme, it is possible that this function of the family protector was in view. If this is true than in this context the Lord would be viewing Himself as a blood avenger Who waits for the day of vengeance to arrive and then springs into action.

The beautiful thing is – we know both views are true. At the same time that He judges the world, He also redeems His Own. 

So, while there is a specific meaning intended here, interpreting it either way loses no real truth in the end.

“(5)  I looked, but there was no one to help; I was shocked because there was no one offering support. 

So My right arm accomplished deliverance; My raging anger drove Me on.  

(6)  I trampled nations in My anger, I made them drunk in My rage, I splashed their blood on the ground.”  

Now this section is considered to be a prayer of one of the Babylonian exiles but which perfectly fits Israel of all ages. It is also a beautiful example of prayer. All prayer should begin with a reverent remembrance of our God, even as Jesus began His prayer, “Our Father… holy is your Name”. So even though this prayer descends into despair, it properly begins in praise to God.

“(7)  I will tell of the faithful acts of the LORD, of the LORD’s praiseworthy deeds. I will tell about all the LORD did for us, the many good things He did for the family of Israel, because of His compassion and great faithfulness.  

(8)  He said, “Certainly they will be My people, children who are not disloyal.” 

He became their deliverer.  

(9)  Through all that they suffered, He suffered too.

The messenger sent from His very presence delivered them.

[This historically fits Moses AND in their future fits Jesus]

In His love and mercy He protected them; He lifted them up and carried them throughout ancient times.  (10)  But they rebelled and offended His Holy Spirit, so He turned into an enemy and fought against them.  

(11)  His people remembered the ancient times. 

Where is the One Who brought them up out of the sea, along with the shepherd of His flock? 

Where is the One Who placed His Holy Spirit among them,  (12)  the One Who made His majestic power available to Moses, who divided the water before them, gaining for himself a lasting reputation,  (13)  who led them through the deep water? 

Like a horse running through the wilderness they did not stumble.  

(14)  Like an animal that goes down into a valley to graze, so the Spirit of the LORD granted them rest. 

In this way You guided Your people, gaining for Yourself an honored reputation.  

(15)  Look down from heaven and take notice, from Your holy, majestic palace! 

Where are Your zeal and power? Do not hold back Your tender compassion!  

(16)  For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us. You, LORD, are our Father; You have been called our protector from ancient times.”  

Jamieson, Fausset & Brown say this about those words,

“It had been the besetting temptation of the Jews to rest on the mere privilege of their descent from faithful Abraham and Jacob (Matthew 3:9; John 8:39; John 4:12); now at last they renounce this, to trust in God alone as their Father, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary. Even though Abraham, our earthly father, on whom we have prided ourselves, disown us, Thou wilt not (Isaiah 49:15; Psalm 27:10). Isaac is not mentioned, because not all his posterity was admitted to the covenant, whereas all Jacob’s was; Abraham is specified because he was the first father of the Jewish race.”

A prayer symbolizing Israel’s desire of God – prayed as it were through the prophet Isaiah

“(17)  Why, LORD, do You make us stray from Your ways, and make our minds stubborn so that we do not obey you?”

Regardless of how this reads in various translations, the one praying (or the hypothetical prayer being set forth as an example or sampling of the hearts of those Israelites in Babylonian captivity) are NOT implying a complete lack of responsibility for their plight – yet, nevertheless, this prayer is not entirely sincere and smacks a little of self-righteousness and victimization (something our modern culture is eminently familiar).

Though we know that God does in fact have the final say regarding the hardening of a heart, we also know that He only does so in His role of arbiter. He judges our hearts in step with our own decisions. Man becomes stubborn and resists God. God in turn resists them and eventually makes a judicial decision in keeping with their own unwillingness to yield. He hardens their hearts.

There are two preferred interpretations of this verse and there are ways in which both are probably true.

  1. This might be set forth as a statement of victimization. “Why have YOU hardened our hearts so that they cannot respond as you desire?” Or  “Why do you allow our hearts to go so far in the wrong direction? Can you not turn our hearts towards You?”
  2. It could also be stated from the perspective of the self-righteous by saying, “Why are You embittering our hearts against You by keeping us in Babylonian exile all these years?”

In any case, it becomes clear in the coming verses that this prayer is NOT entirely sincere! Remember, these are the same Israelites who just a few chapters ago (in Isaiah 58), claimed to be seeking God and desiring to know His way while fasting, but who were only using their fast as a pretense. They abused their fellow Israelites and dishonored God and the Sabbath – all the while calling it a fast unto the Lord.

“Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your inheritance!  

(18)  For a short time Your special nation possessed a land, but then our adversaries knocked down Your holy sanctuary.  (19)  We existed from ancient times, but You did not rule over them; they were not Your subjects.”

You can hear in the words that they see their exile from a victims point of view. It is accusatory – You gave us the land, but then people who were not even subject to You were able to take it away from us. Why did you let that happen God?!

Israel continues to plead

Guzik says that Isaiah 63:7-64:12 is the prayer of the remnant, voiced through the prophet Isaiah

It is one of the most beautiful and moving prayers in the Bible. Yet it does not seem to be representative of the heart of the Jewish exiles in Babylon

Isaiah 64:1-12, 

“(1) If only You would tear apart the sky and come down! 

The mountains would tremble before You!  (2)  As when fire ignites dry wood, or fire makes water boil, let Your adversaries know who You are, and may the nations shake at Your presence!  

(3)  When You performed awesome deeds that took us by surprise, You came down, and the mountains trembled before You.  

(4)  Since ancient times no one has heard or perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, Who intervenes for those who wait for Him.  

(5)  You assist those who delight in doing what is right, who observe Your commandments. 

Look, You were angry because we violated them continually. How then can we be saved?  

(6)  We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in Your sight. 

We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.  

(7)  No one invokes Your name, or makes an effort to take hold of You

For You have rejected us and handed us over to our own sins.  

(8)  Yet, LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You are our Potter; we are all the product of Your labor.  

(9)  LORD, do not be too angry! Do not hold our sins against us continually! 

Take a good look at Your people, at all of us!  

(10)  Your chosen cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem, a desolate ruin.  

(11)  Our holy temple, our pride and joy, the place where our ancestors praised You, has been burned with fire; all our prized possessions have been destroyed.  

(12)  In light of all this, how can You still hold back, LORD? How can You be silent and continue to humiliate us?”

Now it finally comes out!

“Yes Lord we admit it.. We sinned A LOT, continually in fact. But now we are unable to turn back because YOU have rejected us and handed us over to our own sins. Really, when you think about it – this is YOUR fault!

Look at what has happened to US – YOUR people and the land and temple as well. Man, we just don’t get it! Don’t you see in light of all this that You ought to take action and deliver us?!

God Answers

This was originally spoken to Israel as a judgment against them, but later Paul by the Spirit sees it as a dual reference. One to disobedient Israel and two to Gentiles who God later called since Israel judged themselves unworthy of knowing God.

Rom. 10:20-21, “(20) And Isaiah is even bold enough to say, “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I became well known to those who did not ask for Me.”  (21)  But about Israel He says, “All day long I held out My hands to this disobedient and stubborn people!”

This is the meaning of the parable of the wedding feast.

Matt. 22:1-14, “(1) Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying:  (2)  “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.  

(3)  He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come.  

(4)  Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”’  (5)  But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  

(6)  The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them.  

(7)  The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire.  

(8)  Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy.  (9)  So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’  

(10)  And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.  

(11)  But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.  (12)  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he had nothing to say.  

(13)  Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’  (14)  For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Isaiah 65:1-25,

“(1) I made Myself available to those who did not ask for Me; I appeared to those who did not look for Me. 

I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’ to a nation that did not invoke My name.  

(2)  I spread out my hands all day long to My rebellious people, who lived in a way that is morally unacceptable, and who did what they desired.  

(3)  These people continually and blatantly offend Me as they sacrifice in their sacred orchards and burn incense on brick altars.  

(4)  They sit among the tombs and keep watch all night long. They eat pork, and broth from unclean sacrificial meat is in their pans.  

(5)  They say, ‘Keep to Yourself! Don’t get near me, for I am holier than You!’ 

These people are like smoke in My nostrils, like a fire that keeps burning all day long.  

(6)  Look, I have decreed: I will not keep silent, but will pay them back; I will pay them back exactly what they deserve,  (7)  for your sins and your ancestors’ sins,” says the LORD. 

“Because they burned incense on the mountains and offended Me on the hills, I will punish them in full measure.”  

(8)  This is what the LORD says: “When juice is discovered in a cluster of grapes, someone says, ‘Don’t destroy it, for it contains juice.’ So I will do for the sake of My servants I will not destroy everyone.  

(9)  I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah people to take possession of My mountains. 

My chosen ones will take possession of the land; My servants will live there.  

(10)  Sharon will become a pasture for sheep, and the Valley of Achor a place where cattle graze; they will belong to My people, who seek Me.  

(11)  But as for you who abandon the LORD and forget about worshiping at My holy mountain, who prepare a feast for the god called ‘Fortune,’ and fill up wine jugs for the god called ‘Destiny’ –  (12)  I predestine you to die by the sword, all of you will kneel down at the slaughtering block, because I called to you, and you did not respond, I spoke and you did not listen. You did evil before Me; you chose to do what displeases Me.”  

(13)  So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: 

“Look, My servants will eat, but you will be hungry! 

Look, My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty! 

Look, My servants will rejoice, but you will be humiliated!  (14)  

Look, My servants will shout for joy as happiness fills their hearts! But you will cry out as sorrow fills your hearts; you will wail because your spirits will be crushed.  

(15)  Your names will live on in the curse formulas of My chosen ones.” 

Even as God’s name and the name of Christian has been used derisively and as curse words, so will the names of the wicked by used by the righteous.

Now what we are about to read is NOT set forth chronologically – that is done FOR us in the New Testament by its writers and by Jesus through John in the book of Revelation.

These words only say what God is ABOUT to do – not in what order He is going to do them.

“The Sovereign LORD will kill you, but He will give His servants another name.  

(16)  Whoever pronounces a blessing in the earth will do so in the name of the faithful God; 

whoever makes an oath in the earth will do so in the name of the faithful God. 

For past problems will be forgotten; I will no longer think about them.  – Rev. 21:4

(17)  For look, I am ready to create new heavens and a new earth! The former ones will not be remembered; no one will think about them anymore.  (18)  But be happy and rejoice forevermore over what I am about to create!  – Rev. 21:1

For look, I am ready to create Jerusalem to be a source of joy, and her people to be a source of happiness.  

(19)  Jerusalem will bring Me joy, and My people will bring Me happiness. 

The sound of weeping or cries of sorrow will never be heard in her again.”  

After reviewing all this I later read Guzik and he said the same thing. I will read from him now…  

Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: As the ultimate answer to the problem of man’s sin, God will create a new heavens and a new earth. This takes place after the millennium, the glorious thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ, when this very earth and sky is done away with and God makes a new heavens and a new earth.

Peter used this promise to encourage believers to holy living: Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2Peter 3:13). In the book of Revelation, John also sees this: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1).

From John’s context we see that this new heavens and a new earth comes after the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) and is connected not with the millennial earth, but with the eternal state. 

If all we had to go by was Isaiah’s statement, we would automatically connect this new heavens and a new earth with the millennial earth, because immediately after Isa. 65:17-19, we clearly find the millennial earth described. But based on what we find in 2 Peter and Revelation, we must see that Isaiah is in the prophetic habit of switching quickly from one time frame to another, speaking of the eternal state in Isaiah 65:17, and of the millennial earth in Isaiah 65:20-25.

Millennial age

“(20)  Never again will one of her infants live just a few days or an old man die before his time. Indeed, no one will die before the age of a hundred, anyone who fails to reach the age of a hundred will be considered cursed.  

(21)  They will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  (22)  No longer will they build a house only to have another live in it, or plant a vineyard only to have another eat its fruit, for My people will live as long as trees, and My chosen ones will enjoy to the fullest what they have produced.  

(23)  They will not work in vain, or give birth to children that will experience disaster. For the LORD will bless their children and their descendants.  

(24)  Before they even call out, I will respond; while they are still speaking, I will hear.  

(25)  A wolf and a lamb will graze together; a lion, like an ox, will eat straw, and a snake’s food will be dirt. 

They will no longer injure or destroy on My entire royal mountain,” says the LORD.”

Isaiah 66:1-24,  

“(1) This is what the LORD says: 

“The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool. 

Where then is the house you will build for Me? 

Where is the place where I will rest?  

(2)  My hand made them; that is how they came to be,” says the LORD. 

I show special favor to the humble and contrite, who respect what I have to say.  

(3)  The one who slaughters a bull also strikes down a man; 

the one who sacrifices a lamb also breaks a dog’s neck; 

the one who presents an offering includes pig’s blood with it; 

the one who offers incense also praises an idol. 

They have decided to behave this way; they enjoy these disgusting practices.  

(4)  So I will choose severe punishment for them; I will bring on them what they dread, because I called, and no one responded, I spoke and they did not listen. 

They did evil before Me; they chose to do what displeases Me.”  

(5)  Listen to the LORD’s message, you who respect His word! 

Your countrymen, who hate you and exclude you, supposedly for the sake of My name, say, “May the LORD be glorified, then we will witness your joy.” 

But they will be put to shame.  

(6)  The sound of battle comes from the city; the sound comes from the temple! It is the sound of the LORD paying back His enemies.  

(7)  Before she goes into labor, she gives birth! 

Before her contractions begin, she delivers a boy!  

(8)  Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen this? 

Can a country be brought forth in one day? 

Can a nation be born in a single moment? 

Yet as soon as Zion goes into labor she gives birth to sons!  

(9)  “Do I bring a baby to the birth opening and then not deliver it?” asks the LORD. 

“Or do I bring a baby to the point of delivery and then hold it back?” asks your God.  

(10)  Be happy for Jerusalem and rejoice with her, all you who love her! Share in her great joy, all you who have mourned over her!  

(11)  For you will nurse from her satisfying breasts and be nourished; you will feed with joy from her milk-filled breasts.  

(12)  For this is what the LORD says: “Look, I am ready to extend to her prosperity that will flow like a river, the riches of nations will flow into her like a stream that floods its banks. You will nurse from her breast and be carried at her side; you will play on her knees.  

(13)  As a mother consoles a child, so I will console you, and you will be consoled over Jerusalem.”  

Spurgeon says, 

“This is a peculiarly delightful metaphor. A father can comfort, but I think he is not much at home as the work. When God speaks about his pity, he compares himself to their father: ‘Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth, them that fear him.’ But when he speaks about comfort, he selects the mother. When I have seen the little ones sick, I have felt all the pity in the world for them, but I did not know how to set to work to comfort them; but a mother knows by instinct how to do it.”

“(14)  When you see this, you will be happy, and you will be revived. The LORD will reveal His power to His servants and His anger to His enemies.  

Spurgeon says, “Very seldom are believers nowadays charged with being fanatical, nor even with being too enthusiastic; and this is a sign that we are below the right heat. When the world calls us fanatics we are nearing that point of ardor which is our Lord’s due.”

(15)  For look, the LORD comes with fire, His chariots come like a windstorm, to reveal His raging anger, His battle cry, and His flaming arrows.  

(16)  For the LORD judges all humanity with fire and His sword; the LORD will kill many.  

(17)  “As for those who consecrate and ritually purify themselves so they can follow their leader and worship in the sacred orchards, those who eat the flesh of pigs and other disgusting creatures, like mice – they will all be destroyed together,” says the LORD.  

(18)  “I hate their deeds and thoughts! So I am coming to gather all the nations and ethnic groups; they will come and witness My splendor.  

(19)  I will perform a mighty act among them and then send some of those who remain to the nations – to Tarshish, Pul, Lud (known for its archers), Tubal, Javan, and to the distant coastlands that have not heard about Me or seen My splendor. 

They will tell the nations of My splendor.”

  • By Tarshish is meant Spain, France and Italy.
  • By Pul and Lud all of Africa
  • By Tubal, who was a son of Japheth, whose descendants settled in north-eastern Europe or Russia
  • By Javan is the biblical name for Greece.

In a limited sense, this work has been done by the missionary outreach of the church through centuries, but this future fulfillment will be greater. 

“(20)  They will bring back all your countrymen from all the nations as an offering to the LORD. They will bring them on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, and on camels to My holy hill Jerusalem,” says the LORD, “just as the Israelites bring offerings to the LORD’s temple in ritually pure containers.  

(21)  And I will choose some of them as priests and Levites,” says the LORD.  

(22)  “For just as the new heavens and the new earth I am about to make will remain standing before Me,” says the LORD, “so your descendants and your name will remain.  

(23)  From one month to the next and from one Sabbath to the next, all people will come to worship Me,” says the LORD.  

(24)  “They will go out and observe the corpses of those who rebelled against Me, for the maggots that eat them will not die, and the fire that consumes them will not die out. 

All people will find the sight abhorrent.”

I will choose the very good observations of our brother David Guzik to wrap up this most excellent book of prophecy… He says,

And I will take some of them for priests and Levites: The idea is that in that day, God will extend the priesthood beyond its previous boundaries. This is ultimately fulfilled in the church, because saints are called priests (1Peter 2:5-9, Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).

“Just as in Isaiah’s day only some were priests and Levites, but through them Israel was constituted as the Lord’s priestly people, so now he foresees Gentiles incorporated on equal terms, into equal privileges.” (Motyer)

(Isaiah 66:22-24) The certainty of the both the LORD’s judgment and His restoration.

And it shall come to pass . . . all flesh shall come to worship before Me”: Here, God describes His ultimate triumph. Through the majestic book of Isaiah, the nations have been judged and often condemned. But God has an ultimate plan to reach the nations, seen in its ultimate fulfillment in Rev. 5:9-10

God will take people from every tribe and tongue, and “all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the LORD.

Isaiah puts it into context of “from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come and to worship before Me”. 

Significantly, Isaiah began the book with a condemnation of the shallow worship of God’s people at the time of the New Moons and Sabbaths (Isaiah 1:12-15). Now, after the greatness of the LORD’s work, all that is different.

And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me”: Some from every tribe and tongue will have a destiny of ultimate triumph; some also will have the destiny – freely chosen – of ultimate tragedy. 

Using the images of eternal damnation (their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched), Isaiah describes the fate of those who reject God – even if they had the veneer of empty religion.

“After this life, and at the day of judgment, they shall go into eternal torments; where they will feel a work of conscience that shall never die, and a fiery wrath of God upon their souls and bodies that shall never go out.” (Poole)

The book of Isaiah closes with a sobering contrast, revealing the ultimate, eternal importance of this present life. 

Each life can choose its destiny: worship or the worm. Which is it for you?”

I thought we’d end this night with a reading of the passages in the New Testament which make the most use of these chapters. They are found in 2Peter 3

 Revelation 21.

2Peter 3:1-18,  

“(1) Dear friends, this is now the second letter I’ve written you; in both, I awaken your pure understanding with a reminder,  (2)  so that you can remember the words previously spoken by the holy prophets, and the commandment of our Lord and Savior given through your apostles.  

(3)  First, be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, following their own lusts,  (4)  saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”  

(5)  They willfully ignore this: long ago the heavens and the earth existed out of water and through water by the word of God.  (6)  Through these the world of that time perished when it was flooded by water.  (7)  But by the same word the present heavens and earth are held in store for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  

(8)  Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: with the Lord one day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years like one day.  (9)  The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.  

(10)  But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.  

(11)  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness  (12)  as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be on fire and be dissolved, and the elements will melt with the heat.  

(13)  But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.  

(14)  Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found in peace without spot or blemish before Him.  

(15)  Also, regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation, just as our dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you.  (16)  He speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.  

(17)  Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of the immoral and fall from your own stability.  (18)  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Rev. 21:1-27, “(1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer.  (2)  I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.  

(3)  Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  

(4)  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.  

(5)  Then the One seated on the throne said, 

“Look! I am making everything new.” 

He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”  

(6)  And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the thirsty from the spring of living water as a gift.  (7)  The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.  (8)  But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars–their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

(9)  Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: 

“Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  

(10)  He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,  (11)  arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.  

(12)  The city had a massive high wall, with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; on the gates, names were inscribed, the names of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel.  

(13)  There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.  

(14)  The city wall had 12 foundations, and on them were the 12 names of the Lamb’s 12 apostles.  

(15)  The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.  

(16)  The city is laid out in a square; its length and width are the same. He measured the city with the rod at 12,000 stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal.  

(17)  Then he measured its wall, 144 cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used.  (18)  The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold like clear glass.  

(19)  The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,  (20)  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  

(21)  The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. 

The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  

(22)  I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary.  

(23)  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  

(24)  The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.  

(25)  Each day its gates will never close because it will never be night there.  

(26)  They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.  

(27)  Nothing profane will ever enter it: no one who does what is vile or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.”


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!