God's New World

Isaiah 65:17.---' For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

This has been called the Magna Carta of humanity. It is a picture of the new Divine order. A Utopian picture, it may be thought; but in no easy Utopian way will it come to pass. The evil must be cast out; and the Bible way of doing this is drastic, but never easy. It is never a matter of readjustment; for evil destroys that which it invades. There is nothing for it but re-creation.

'For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth'; so entirely new and different from the old that 'the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind.' So great will be the joy of the new order of things that the memory of the unhappy past will be blotted out. 'But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy.' Some of the causes for joy are here mentioned. 'There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days.' There shall be an end not only to infant mortality but also to premature death. Longevity was an early Hebrew substitute for immortality. One of the Mosaic promises was 'that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.' Here old age is to be a blessing, not 'that unhoped serene which men call old age.' 'The child shall die an hundred years old'; that is, the centenarian shall have the heart of a child. Age will not count, age does not count, when a man has been released from all internal struggle with himself. 'But the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.' Age counts there all right. Sin makes people old.

Then there follows a picture of life in a time of peace; there will be stable industrial conditions and security of tenure; 'They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.' They shall enjoy the fruit of their labors. They shall not be dispossessed by eviction or impoverished by depression. 'They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble.' Toil shall no longer end in the ruin of their hopes, nor shall children be born into the world to meet some terrible catastrophe.

There are those who will say that such a time of settled security would not be good for the race; that the greatest gains have come through the discipline of unsettlement, war, struggle and depression. It is not assumed that the discipline of struggle will come to an end. In a sense it will only be begun. The constructive work of peace demands all the resources of the human spirit, all the honor, chivalry, and courage that any war has ever called forth. For peace is not the mere absence of war. Think what a terrible thing the task of peace must necessarily be! Do we realize how strongly evil is entrenched in every nation in Christendom, the legalized iniquities there are, the vested interests which tie the hands of Governments? All these will have to be broken. It will mean a loss in revenue to every State. It will mean a cutting of their gains to many who, under present conditions, cannot see the evil for the revenue.

Says a young man in a novel of H. G. Wells, "War is an activity---Peace is not." If you take war out of the world, you must have some other activity. . . . We don't want a preventative United Nations; it's got to be creative or nothing. . . .People with intelligence and imagination won't stand a passive hope.

Surely this is a time for looking into the fallacies that have made possible all the wars in history. We must look into our own hearts too. Deep down we shall find all sorts of national reserves and prejudices, so disguised and rationalized that many would call them their convictions. The only convictions some people have are just bundles of their own select prejudices. We must get down to these. It is not enough that the glorified ideas of war have been generally exploded. The explosion must happen in our own hearts. To allow another disaster to come upon the human race is 'to sell the pass,' and to betray the trust of those who believed that in fighting in a war to end war they were in the highest way of duty. Both they and we believed it; and we must now give proof of our belief that they did not die in vain. No war can ever end war, unless there be born in men's hearts the will to peace. It took all those precious lives to teach us the lesson that war settles nothing, not even a boundary line. And for us it is no longer a question whether war is justified but a question whether it is Christian. 'The debate about war is really closed.' It cannot be God's way of settling disputes: and, if we are His children, it cannot be ours.

'We shall never get a warless world, through the propaganda of peace in the abstract. Nothing will hold us when a cyclone of war feeling sweeps over a country but a deep-seated habit of goodwill cultivated and formed in the hearts and lives of men'

Peace is not passivism: it is a time of the most urgent, positive, creative activity. To this place, peace has been regarded more or less as the dull waiting, marking time period that lies between one war and the next. Have we ever thought what a creative time of peace would be like? We cannot have it unless nations, like men, are engaged in real team work of creative living and creative action. It is the most positive and constructive form of activity, as is borne out by the prophet's words: 'they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks'; not into useless rubbish, but into instruments to serve a useful purpose in the help of man and in the service of the Prince of Peace.

But we must come back to the prophet's picture of the new world. 'They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble.' Think of the uselessness of all labor, with the shadow of impending war over everything, not only the work of man's hands, but over human love and joy. War cuts at the root of everything undertaken in faith, hope, and love.

'They shall not labor in vain.' Think of the multitudes who are today laboring in vain, whose work brings them little profit and less joy: or think of the millions of workless tramping the streets, part of the heritage of war. 'Laboring in vain.' But in the new world, the demand for labor will not only be equal to the supply, but there will be such a spirit among the workers that every man will be equal to his job.

'They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble.' Think of the children who are being brought forth for trouble, to give trouble. Think of the factors that are at work in the breaking up of the home, marriage sanctions, the life of the family. And then, think of the picture we have here, even in so early a stage of the world's history, a picture we have not yet come within sight of---domestic, social, and industrial life reconstructed on a basis of joy; family and social well-being, economic prosperity and peace.

It may seem a dream, but it is a dream that persists. It is a dream that Jesus came to give; and He so believed in its coming to pass that He sealed it with His blood. It is by such dreams that the heart of man is sustained and kept alive. It will mean a new world when the old spirit of ruthless competition goes, when 'they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.'; when Nature herself will participate and rejoice in the general reconstruction, even as St. Paul believed she would. 'All Nature has an evangelical future.' The whole creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God, for the God-anointed men and women who will bring about the new social order.

In Christ, timothy maranatha