In this lesson taken from (Isaiah 65:17-25), God is about to redecorate the universe. But this is far more than a mere renovation of an existing world, God is creating entirely new heavens and an entirely new earth out of nothing (ex nihilo). The new earth and heavens will be so wonderful that nobody will even remember the old ones. And the hallmark of the new heavens and earth will be a new Jerusalem, created as a joy. In this current world, the old Jerusalem, while holy to three different religions, is mostly a source of division and sadness.
For Jews, Jerusalem has been their physical and spiritual home at least since the 10th century B.C. As an indication of its centrality, the word Jerusalem appears in Hebrew scriptures 669 times and Zion (the City of David a/k/a Jerusalem) appears another 154 times. It is the site of the binding (sacrifice) of Isaac, the site of Solomon’s temple built in about 950 BC, and is the site of the rebuilding of the temple by Ezra and Nehemiah.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the sacred site of Jesus’ triumphal entry, his trial, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. The Temple was also the place where Jesus taught and healed. The Upper Room, site of the last supper, is in Jerusalem.
Muslims believe Jerusalem is the site where Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock and was given the five pillars of Islam.
It is precisely because Jerusalem is so holy to three different religions that the current city is a source of division rather than unity. And within religions, there is also division. For example, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the church built over Calvary and Jesus’ tomb, is divided among six denominations: Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Copts, and Ethiopians. Only a few years ago in 2008, there was a fight among Ethiopian and Coptic (Egyptian) monks when a monk decided to move his chair into the shade which was arguably Ethiopian space. Eleven people were injured and hospitalized fighting over space in the church. Can you imagine what Jesus would say to this childish behavior?
In fact, over the front door, there is a ladder which apparently a mason working on the stonework placed there in 1757. The ladder is a symbol of the status quo among the denominations and has been proclaimed “immovable” until there is a reunification between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox church. Under those standards, it will be along time before the ladder is moved.
Contrasted to this sad division, the new Jerusalem will be a joy and its people a delight. Conflict and disease will be a thing of the past. Infant mortality will a thing of the past, and no weeping will be heard in the entire city of Jerusalem. Nobody will lose their house or their orchards to invading armies. God promises to hear their prayers and bless their offspring. I hope we don’t mess up the new one.