Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A New Hope


In my childhood, on the days leading to Chinese New Year, there were long queues at the bank for new dollar notes for hongbaos. Department stores were crowded by people buying new pillows, new sheets, etc. The house would be cleaned thoroughly - every piece of furniture, every corner, door, window etc. Many re-painted their house to coincide with Chinese New Year. People would bring their children to buy new clothes and get a haircut. There would be a rush for CNY goodies and bakkwa at the last minute. That is a lot of things to do in such a short time. Is it also your experience?

The tradition of Chinese New Year is the old has gone, the new has come. So we give new money, we wear new clothes and we want the house to look new. It is a celebration of newness. Thus, I understand the need for last minute shopping. Things bought at the last minute are still new in the New Year. The last-minute shopping displays the willingness to get ready for the arrival of the New Year. The emphasis on newness is embraced and celebrated with the newness that it brings. So, we need not think negatively of people who do last-minute shopping.

Children are usually excited by the newness surrounding them. The idea of newness should excite us too. “Then I saw a NEW heaven and NEW earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea”, Rev 21:1. At the end of the Bible in Revelation, John the Apostle gives us a vision of the final stage of God’s redemption plan. We are promised a hope of newness. This should make us excited and restless for the coming of this newness that will be eternal.

In the first 20 chapters of Revelation, John uses dramatic symbols to show God’s judgments on creation, the war between the satanic forces and God’s people and the final defeat of Satan. John then closes with the final judgment where everything that is not of God is thrown into the lake of fire. If the Bible ended here at Rev 20, God’s people would face a dreary existence. Much of creation would still be devastated. However, as we turn to Rev 21-22, we see John describing the glorious inheritance awaiting all of God’s people. For the Christian, judgment day is past since Jesus took the judgment we deserved. Instead, at the end of history, words of blessing await us - ‘Well done good and faithful servant’, ‘Let the little children come to me’, ‘Nothing can separate you from my love’, etc. A new creation will replace the present heaven and earth. The word ‘new’ means unworn, unused, fresh, original, etc. God is making all things new because he wants all things new, the best, for his children. Isn’t that the same with you? If you had something new to use or wear, would you want to go back and pick some old clothes to wear?

The Bible describes the Christian as a ‘new creation’. This newness is a miracle wrought by God. At the beginning of this Chinese New Year, let us continue to embrace this newness as we continue our journey of faith together. Let me close by wishing all of you XinNianMengEn, AiZuGengShen. May the blessing of this new life given to you by our Lord Jesus bring a deepening of your love for him.

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