Words for Thought: Renovate

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day for October 21st was renovate.

1: to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)
2: to restore to life, vigor, or activity : revive

“Renovate,” “renew,” “restore,” “refresh,” and “rejuvenate” all mean to make like new. “Renovate” suggests a renewing by cleansing, repairing, or rebuilding. “Renew” implies a restoration of what had become faded or disintegrated so that it seems like new (“efforts to renew the splendor of the old castle”). “Restore” suggests a return to an original state after depletion or loss (“restored a piece of furniture”). “Refresh” implies the supplying of something necessary to restore lost strength, animation, or power (“a refreshing drink”). “Rejuvenate” suggests the restoration of youthful vigor, powers, or appearance (“she was rejuvenated by her new job”). “Renovate” has “newness” in its origins: it ultimately derives from the Latin verb “novare,” meaning “to make new,” itself a descendant of “novus,” meaning “new.”

ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition series is a reality television series providing home renovations for less fortunate families, hosted by Ty Pennington. On the series, people who are unable to help themselves are given help by others to demolish their existing home and replace it with one that is far superior to the original in every respect: size, features, amenities, and furnishings.

The show was highly popular because of its themes regarding redemption, mercy, and community. There is a similar story told in Scripture. You might call it Extreme Makeover: Fallen Creation Edition. This story also tells about redemption, mercy, and community. G-d’s redemption and mercy upon His community of believers.

The promotion for this series began a few thousand years ago with the prophet Isaiah:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)

and again...

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your [Israel's] offspring and your name will endure. And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:22-24)

Peter also wrote about this coming attraction:

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:13-16)

The most recent word of Scripture about the Extreme Makeover: Fallen Creation Edition is found in the book of Revelation:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Revelation 21:1-7)

There are generally two schools of thought regarding how this will work:

The traditional Christian teaching is that it will be much like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The old heavens and the old earth will be completely obliterated. Time and space will cease to exist and G-d will start over from scratch and populate the world with new creatures who are the faithful in Christ.

The much older traditional Hebraic teaching about the new heavens and the new earth is one of renovation: G-d is going to burn the world with fire and cleanse away all of the impurities resulting from sin and leave behind what is holy, spotless, and pure. This fits with Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians:

Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

Paul is specifically speaking of our works being tested with fire and that which is good will remain, however, the Hebraic understanding of “the new heavens and new earth” is not the Western teaching of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It is instead one of renovating: making all things like new… like they were at Creation. It is a simple thing to destroy a flawed construction and build something new from scratch. It is much more difficult (and more glorifying to G-d!) to take a flawed Creation and do a heavy-duty restoration job on it to make it better than it was originally.

As Messiah states in Revelation 21:5 “I am making all things new.” If He is taking Believer Bob and making him into a completely new creation then it is no longer Believer Bob… it is someone new: Christian Chuck, perhaps. If, however, Messiah takes Believer Bob and “renovates” him and makes Bob as he was intended to be from Creation but without sin then that is the model that fully fits with Scripture. The flaws, the dross, is burned up and we are renewed in our faith in Messiah… spiritually regenerated now and physically regenerated upon His glorious return.

Oh, Lord, hasten the day!

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim 1:17)