For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)
I have this personality tick which prevents me from enjoying a lot of acclaimed comedies; I do not enjoy watching other people do embarrassing things. I love “The Office”, but the main character Michael Scott’s shenanigans make my throat fall down into my stomach. “Modern Family” is often hilarious, but I cannot get passed Phil Dunphy’s ridiculous escapades at being a “cool dad” and the ludicrous results.
I think the fundamental reason I don’t enjoy watching other people get or do embarrassing things is because I don’t enjoy being embarrassed. Actually, I loathe it. And when I see it happen to other people, it only reminds me of when I did something farcical. Have you ever woken up in bed from a dream where you were reliving the most embarrassing moment? I have. Talk about night sweats.
Anyway, when I hear from Isaiah that “the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind,” I start thinking about those embarrassing things. That time when I was three my mom put me in a girl’s bathing suit because I forgot mine? See-Ya. That time I got “the talk” from my grandmother when she was actually giving it to my older brother? No mas. That time…well…2 is enough. You get where I’m going though right?
Isaiah’s vision of a new heaven and new earth is one where the things in our past aren’t drudged up. And it’s not even at an individual level but a communal one because the preceding verses of Isaiah 65 lay all of Judah’s dirty laundry for all to see. “I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;” (Isa. 65:2, emphasis added). God then explains in pretty specific detail what the people did wrong and what is going to happen to them because of it.
That’s why verse 17 is such a departure. God knows the crappy things we’ve done. God knows all of our mistakes, all of our faults, all of our shortcomings. But that does matter, God is making something new. If we partner with God, we can change ourselves and our society and live into God’s dream for the world.
May it be so this day.