"And He that sits on the throne said:
Behold, I make all things new!" Rev. 21:5.
"...That He might create in Himself of the two one new man..." Eph. 2:15-16.
"If any man is in Christ he is a new creation." 2 Cor. 5:14-17.
"...His body shall not remain all night upon the tree... for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not thy land..." Deut. 21:23.
"...Whom they slew, hanging Him on a tree..." Acts 10:39.
"Christ... having become a curse for us." Gal. 3:13.
"...The Lamb that has been slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8.
"...The glory which I had with thee before the world was." John 17:5.
"...By the blood of an eternal covenant." Heb. 13:20-21.
All these passages have a relationship with one another, and are linked with the word: "Behold, I make all things new." We see in it God's plan with three main phases.
The first phase is related to the foreknowledge of God. Some of the passages we have read refer to something which happened "before the world was". Jesus said of Himself that He had a glory with the Father "before the world was". The Lamb had been slain "from the foundation of the world".
God saw, in His foreknowledge, the need of a redemptive work, and laid the ground of a new creation. He saw the end of the redemption in its consummation - fulfilled through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ who was slain, according to God's purpose, from the foundation of the world; that is, before the ground of the new creation was laid.
In Hebrews 13 we read of the blood of "an eternal covenant". That does not refer to a 'future' eternity. That word points to the past, a past as seen from our standpoint; because for God the past and the future are alike: an eternal present time. But the Word, being written for our sakes, and taking account of our limited realm, wants to show us that in the foreknowledge of God the blood of an eternal covenant was already set apart. Then this creation came into being. It appeared out of the chaotic state of a judged world, and "it was very good." After that came the fall. Through sin the evil one got the upper hand and saw to it that the history of the world became one of darkness and human misery. Now the creation is waiting for the redemption - "the unveiling of the sons of God".
This leads us to the second phase of God's purpose, the Cross of the Son of Man. In Him appears, at the same time, the new creation. On the one hand the old creation was judged, and came definitely to an end in Him as our Representative. In the death of our Lord Jesus Christ all have died. On the other hand He is the resurrection and the life, "the firstborn from among the dead". But this new creation is not like the old one. The new heaven and the new earth are of a different order. We now live "by faith and not by sight". It is a spiritual world, entirely new; new in an all-inclusive sense.
The third phase is presented to us in the book of the Revelation, chapter 21: "Behold, I make all things new." That is the new creation in its consummation. It is a spiritual creation as the ultimate outcome of the Cross of Christ. This spiritual creation will take a form which is adequate to its nature: a new heaven and a new earth.
These three phases of the divine plan are very clear in God's Word. But let us now turn to the central thing, namely the fact that it is the Cross which is at the basis of the all things to become new.
The Cross has two sides. It represents the end of an old creation, and the coming in of a new one.
Shall we now see the point from where God takes up His new work? Well, there was a moment in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ when this whole creation was, so to speak, in ruin. Spiritually we meet that which is told us at the beginning of the book of Genesis concerning the state of the earth. We read: "The earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." That was the result of a fall. It meant judgment. When we come to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and see again the darkness upon the earth which lasted until the ninth hour, and hear Him cry: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?", we understand what He meant when He said: "Now is the judgment of this world." In Him, the Son of Man, God has brought the creation in its fallen state, and the whole work of the devil under His judgment. God abandoned and rejected it in its Representative. That terrific judgment fell upon one person. One man became the representative of all.
Jesus Christ on the Cross represents the whole creation under the judgment of God. God was visiting in Him the sin of the whole world. The whole creation went down into death. God cut the very light of His countenance from His Son. All the sin of this creation, searched through the heart of one man. The answer to His cry: "Why hast thou forsaken me" would be in effect: "Because of the sin of the world which is upon You. Because of the work of the devil who has to be destroyed." The apostle Paul says: "One died for all, therefore all died." We know that in His Cross the whole world is put away. "The old things are passed away."
But we have to realise this in our consciousness; we must see it. The natural mind cannot know it. The wisdom of the natural is, according to James, inspired of the devil. We see a devilish wisdom at work today. Only if God is giving us light can we see the things in His light. Then we see what the natural man really is. We see the Cross as the revelation of God's wrath over our sinful nature. The Cross of Calvary is the judgment over this sinful world. And because we belong, by nature, to this world which God has abandoned, therefore the Cross of Jesus Christ has to be registered in our lives; that what we are by nature has to come under the judgment of the Cross. We have to repudiate ourselves continually that our life may not come under the wrath of God. We dare not serve God with that which He has rejected. God has rejected the wisdom of man. He will not have it in His service, neither will He have any other 'abilities' from ourselves. God can only use that which comes straight out from the new creation.
So we have to be very careful. There is a constant need for heart-searching in this matter. How easily something of the natural man creeps in. Again and again we want to serve and do things - with our best intentions - where we can do nothing, where we must do nothing, where God has to be doing all in us, where it has to be in the strength of a new life to bring in a new ministry. There is a need to keep very close to the Cross of Christ. The Holy Spirit must be allowed to keep this natural man on the Cross that all things may be truly "out of God", and not from ourselves.
Is it not a terrible thing that we can come under judgment even in the work of God? It is impossible to live an acceptable life before God with resources which are under His curse, with that which we produce, in the strength of our ability. In the book of Deuteronomy we read that the body of him that is hanged upon the tree "shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God". In the letter to the Galatians Paul interprets this word in speaking of Christ, "having become a curse for us". One hanging on a tree overnight would pollute the whole land. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Representative of the whole creation, would pollute the whole earth, if He remains all night on the cross! There can be no more terrible thought in the Word of God. How this unveils to us the awful condition of this creation which is abandoned of God. It is so cursed that everything of the old nature, without any reservation, is left, rejected and put away in Him who, as its Representative, has become a curse for all.
If ever we see the necessity of a new creation, the need of an absolute new creation, we see it here. Everything must become new. The Word of God says: "Behold, I make all things new! God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Again we come to the book of Genesis. "The earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." And God said, "Raised from the dead through the glory of the Father!" God raised His Son from the dead. He brought Him forth as "the firstborn from the dead". It is a new creation which is rising. In Christ we too are a new creation. It is true, without a doubt: "All things are new".
"But all things are of God". All things are become new. Our wisdom is a new wisdom. Our strength is a new strength. Our heart is a new heart. Our capacities are new capacities. All things are become new. It is Christ in us!
I realise in a new way that we have to be very diligent to see to it that we do nothing out of our own strength, that God is doing all. Looking into the work of my own mind there are my own thoughts, there is the strength of my own desires, strong passions of heart and will. But I ask the Lord to keep me in dread of myself, for this whole creation, all of what I am in Adam, is cursed. It lies where God has abandoned it. He cannot use it. Everything now must be of God.
I do want to urge upon you to have more heart-searching in this matter. Oh, there is a wonderful new creation with divine resources! There are marvellous possibilities, because they are God's possibilities for us. All things are possible from God's side. Shall we not take the place where all things are possible? We can be there where all things are of God. HE is initiating things, HE is doing all. Let us reach out to come into our God-appointed place in Christ - the fulness of God in Him. Therefore we have to come to the Cross, and accept its implications from both sides. We must see that awful side of the Cross of Jesus Christ - the curse of the cross - that He was crucified for us, and we in Him. We dare not bring anything of that old creation into the new life, for it would continually come under God's judgment. The day might come when all our work would have to be burnt. There is a big difference between that which is done for the Lord, and that which is of the Lord in us. "He that is hanged is accursed of God." With Christ we have hung upon the tree, and God has forsaken us in His Cross. But that is not the end of all, but the beginning of a far bigger thing, something altogether new. Let me say it again: we cannot come into the new thing unless the old things are passed away. "Behold, I make all things new"!
May the Lord bring us there where it can be said of us in truth: All things are new! And may He establish us in it moment by moment. May the Cross be registered in every realm of our lives, working in our spirit, soul and body, in mind, heart and will. May it operate in our words and works, that all may be governed by His Cross, and a clear way made for the glory of God, and the fulness of our Lord Jesus Christ.