Behold, I am making all things new!

Behold, I am making all things new

“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”
(Revelation 21:5)

Our world at the beginning of 2023 is pretty much the same as it was at the end of 2022.

It is a world that continues to be molested by wars, pestilences and famines. It is a world that is gripped by the forces of evil, shrouded in darkness and burdened by the weight of tragedy.

In many ways, 2023 does not appear to offer many prospects for a new beginning for large swathes of the world’s population.

Think of the millions of Ukrainians whose lives have been torn apart by a senseless war and who have lost people they love.

Think of the 900,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar and who are now living in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh.

And think of the hundreds of thousands of women and children (both girls and boys) who are victims of human trafficking every year, and who find themselves in the dark and unforgiving world of sex, drugs and violence.

Will 2023 bring a new beginning of peace, restoration, liberation and healing to them?

And yet, the lectionary for this liturgical season directs our attention to these truly remarkable words of our Lord: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).

They point to the future that God himself will bring to pass the transformation of this sin-marred world of ours, where God himself will “wipe away every tear from their eyes”, and where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

This marvellous and unimaginable future is in fact already here! God’s kingdom was inaugurated by the appearance of Jesus Christ—the incarnation of the second person of the triune Godhead—on the first Christmas day at Bethlehem, and will be consummated when Christ returns at the close of the age. Our Lord’s first advent points to and anticipates the Parousia—his glorious return. That is why Revelation 21 is read by the Church during Epiphany, which immediately follows Christmas.

The present world, because of the Fall, is not that which God had intended it to be. But because of Christ, this fallen world will never simply remain as it is. A new reality has dawned that will be fully unveiled when the divine kingdom comes in all its fullness.

Now, because God has made a divine promise that he “(is) making all things new”, Christians dare to hope, amidst the prevailing chaos of our world, for the ‘impossible possibility’ of the future that they cannot yet see, but is promised in the lectionary readings for this season.

Christian hope flows from faith that this promised future has been guaranteed by what God has accomplished in history through the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

That is why whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she makes the Memorial Acclamation:

Christ has died
Christ is risen
Christ will come again

The Christian, who has put his faith in the crucified and risen Christ, lives in hope for his certain return.

However, the Christian’s wait for the Parousia is never passive or idle. His faith and hope in his Lord and Saviour compel him to avail himself as God’s instrument of love, mercy and grace.

Thus, as the Christian waits for the promised future, he allows God to use him to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. He embodies that gospel and works toward peace and justice. He exercises responsible stewardship by caring for the environment. He intercedes for those in desperate need, lifting up holy hands in prayer so that those who are imprisoned by their past or paralysed by their present circumstances will, by God’s grace and mercy, be given a fresh start and a new beginning.

I end this brief reflection with an Anglican Collect for the season of Epiphany. Perhaps we can make this prayer our own as we wait for the God who has promised to make all things new.

Almighty God,
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College and Theological and Research Advisor at the Ethos Institute for Public Christianity.