Stability in an Unstable World
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.Luke 21:33
Everything is Always Changing
We live in a world with many changes. There seem to be less and less certainties. As for moral values, what used to be the norm is no longer the case today. Many no longer seem to know the difference between right and wrong. People live according to their feelings and not according to an objective standard of truth. Many are like hikers walking through a swampy area where the ground is soft and spongy, where you have to feel your way to place your foot, and you really don’t know where you are going. That is how many people in our society live: they do not know where to go or to turn.
Things are changing so quickly in our world that many people can hardly keep up. Many throw up their hands and don’t know what to do. The rush, the pressure, the tension to produce and to sell is tremendous. The economy is volatile and changes come suddenly. Also in families there are changes. People pass away, children grow up and start having families of their own, but shortly, they too will have become old. Everything changes. People become so weary that they wonder how they can go on.
All Things Will Pass Away
In these first weeks of a new year in a rapidly changing world, we are also reminded of a lasting stability. Listen carefully to Him who speaks: Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away (Luke 21:33).
This means that everything in this world will come to an end, but what God has spoken shall stand. God’s Word will stand and has true validity. What He has spoken will come to pass. In the end, everything we see – the world, the earth, clouds, the skies, will pass away, but what the Lord has spoken shall come to pass.
The verb used in Greek that is translated “to pass away” means “to come,” “pass by,” “disappear,” and then be gone. This means all these things are no longer relevant or valid. The same verb is used also in Luke 15:29, where it refers to transgressing commandments. You can pass by a commandment of God, whereby you declare that a commandment is not valid for you. It is a terrible sin to say that something God has commanded is not valid for you and you consider it to be obsolete, of no value. The verb is also used in connection with people passing by, and of time passing by. Suffering can pass by. James warns us in his epistle that the rich man shall also pass away and be no more.
When the Lord Jesus says that heaven and earth shall pass away, He means that this heaven and this earth have come into existence and are with us for a while, but one day they will pass away and be no more.
Man Will Continue to Exist
The astounding truth is that you and I will not pass away! We will die and our body will be laid in a grave, but it will be raised again at the glorious day of Jesus’ second coming. In the meantime, you will continue to exist. Your real existence is in your soul. Your body may die and be buried, but you will still exist. You will still continue to have joy or dismay, gladness or fear, happiness or sorrow. You will be either free from pain or you will be in great torment. You will either be in the light or in the darkness. You will sing or you will wail. You will never become irrelevant. Because you have been made for eternity, you will never pass away. You will be there when this heaven and this earth will pass away and will be no more.
Heaven and Earth Will Pass Away
It is an astounding fact that heaven and earth will pass away. We can’t imagine that. But Scripture is full of such expressions. For instance in Psalm 102 we read: the earth and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure.
Heaven and earth shall pass away. That is a very sobering statement. We do well to pay attention to this truth. We are to do our work and faithfully carry out our responsibilities, but we ought to realize this is all just for a moment. It will all pass away.
We see how the year 2008 has passed away. It is gone. Likewise, all the things around us will eventually pass away. Your home will pass away and will be no more. Your furniture, your books, your bank account, your garden, your boat, our church building, our country, the bridges, and the buildings – everything will pass away. They will be irrelevant and forgotten. No one will think about them any more because they will not have any more value at all.
It is as what happens to an airplane ticket. You order the ticket and you carefully keep it because you do not want to lose it. When you are set to fly, you check several times if you really have it with you. But when the flight is done, what do you do with it? You throw it out. The same ticket that you used to care for so diligently, you now throw out. It has become outdated and irrelevant. Its validity passed away. That is how it will one day be with everything in this life and the world for us.
Another example is if you have a very old car, full of rust, which barely runs and you bring it to the auto wrecker, and it is gone. You buy a new car and you never think about the old car any more. It’s gone and it is out of your thoughts; you have other things to think about. Your new car has become relevant for you; not the old one. It has passed away.
That is how we will view this world. It will pass away; it will have no value to us anymore because it will be gone. All the things we are attached to will likewise be gone. We will not think of them anymore. We will have other things on our mind. It will either be to glorify and enjoy God, or to gnash your teeth and weep. In either condition you will not think back on your home on earth and your furniture, for it will have all passed away. Heaven and earth and all things we see will pass away.
Christ’s Words will not Pass Away
Christ says: My words shall not pass away. That is an amazing statement. Who could ever say something like that? No human being can speak like that. Yet Jesus Christ says this because He is divine. He is God and He is eternal. He will never pass away and He has authority to say: My words shall not pass away.
In the original Greek there is a double negative: My Word shall not, shall not pass away. My words shall certainly not, no never pass away. They will always be valid and will always be relevant. They shall always be remembered
What joy this is for God’s people! All He has spoken will come to pass. The day will come when He will return. He will take all His people with Him into glory, where they will be with Him forever and ever.
This is a word of comfort for pilgrims, who can be so weary and tired. Now they still struggle with the weakness of their faith. But He is their God and He will never leave them or forsake them. His Word shall not pass away. He will deliver all His people and they will all be in glory with Him. Not one of them will slip out of His hand.
But the final doom of all who resist Him will take place also. The fire that made the rich man cry, I suffer thirst in this flame, will take place, because heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
But the words of Christ’s offer of life and mercy are also still valid today. He has spoken in Isaiah 45:22, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. There is still an offer of grace for each and every one of us. That offer will last as long as heaven and earth continue. We are now in the time of grace, but when Christ returns, the time of grace will be passed. If you are still unconverted at the beginning of the year of our Lord 2009, remember that there is still salvation for you in Him. His blood is able to wash and cleanse you, because His Word tells us so. His Word tells us that He is able to save even to the uttermost. Are you perhaps wasting your time? Are you wasting your energy, trying to find that which can never satisfy your soul? What will you choose: Diamonds or pebbles, rocks or gold, life everlasting or a few years of a troubled and anxious life on earth? What are you living for? Let it be for Christ and His future. He says to all His people, Because I live, ye shall live also (John 14:19). Christ’s words shall not pass away.