Recommended Reading: Genesis 1:26-3:34, Romans 5:11-17, Revelation 21:1-6
I know there is a lot of recommended reading today, but today I’ll be talking about the entire history of humanity, so I feel like maybe when you think about it that way it’s not that bad.
Some of the best movies, books, and autobiographies out there are stories of redemption. As a society, we love watching a plot line unfold that seems irredeemable and then sitting amazed as some hero comes through, or a situation drastically turns around, and suddenly everything is okay again. It happens in rom-coms, thrillers, action movies, comedies, you name it. We eat it up.
Have you ever stopped to think about why we love stories of redemption so much?
Could it be that they speak to our souls, that they reflect the timeline written on each of our hearts?
Part I: The Fall (Genesis 1:26-3:24)
Are you familiar with the birth story of humanity?
God started out this story by creating two people to walk with Him on the earth: Adam and Eve. He planted a garden for them to work in and gave them dominion over all creation. He fellowshipped with them. It was the way we were meant to live.
It didn’t last long.
Sin entered the picture.
Satan convinced Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil–the one thing they were specifically told not to do.
Here I want to emphasize a concept that I only started thinking about after reading this Desiring God post: Adam and Eve sinned because they chose the wrong person to believe. Rather than believing in God when He had told them that they were forbidden from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they chose to believe the enemy when he told them it was okay. He told them that they could be like God, and they believed it.
I’ll talk more about that later.
What followed was death and decay. God banished them from the garden, cutting off their access to the tree of life and revoking their right to eternal life (Genesis 3:22). They were suddenly faced with pain and danger and violence. They were faced with a lifetime of living not for God but for work, in Adam’s case, and a man, in Eve’s.
In effect, they switched the default of humanity over from unity with God to separation from God.
And for centuries, we lived within that default.
Part II: The Rise
I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim His deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that He has done it.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name Him Immanuel.”
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…”
The fall was a dark day in history. It’s worth lamenting, since it was the beginning of our separation from God. But it would seem that Someone was affected even more deeply than we were. The fall caused such deep anguish in God that He wrote its reversal into the thread of history in the form of prophecy about Jesus. In a way, they were His subtle promise to us that His work was not finished, that restoration of all that was lost was on its way.
The fall started to unravel the day Jesus was born. He humbled Himself to our level, choosing to be born as a baby for the sake of reconciliation.
Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Over the course of the next few verses, Paul contrasts the death that happened through Adam with its reversal: the resurrection that happens through Jesus.
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
How much more!
When I think of all of the death and darkness in the world, it can get a little overwhelming. It is rampant; it is woven into the fabric of our societies.
How much more.
I want to talk about belief again. Lately the fact that Jesus just asks us to believe in Him in order to have life hasn’t been making a whole lot of sense to me. Why was belief His number one priority? Why is belief so powerful?
Adam and Eve were sentenced to death because of their lack of belief.
Their lack of belief entirely separated them from God. It is what caused them to follow Satan instead.
With God, we are either all in or all out. We either believe in Him and are unified with Him, or we believe in something else and we are separated from Him.
As humans, we were made to believe in something. We were made to pick one thing and follow it–believe in it and find fulfillment in it–above all the rest. After humanity was cursed, it was natural for men to look to the work of their hands to be the object of their belief; their fulfillment. Likewise, it was natural for women to look to their husbands–men–to be the object of their belief and fulfillment.
You and I have the opportunity today to do something a little different: to believe in Jesus. To look to Him for our fulfillment. We were created to do exactly that, and it is only when we fully put our trust in Him that we start living life the way it was meant to be lived.
Don’t get me wrong–work and marriage are not bad things. But we weren’t created to believe in them above God.
All that to say, I think Jesus just wants our belief because if we choose to believe in Him, He can take it from there. Once our hearts make Him our number one priority, He can do astounding things within us and through us. That is power that no idol has.
Part III: The End
Remember the tree of life in Genesis 2:9? I didn’t talk much about it, but it’s about to become very important.
There were two trees in the garden of Eden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. God banished Adam and Eve from the garden so that they could not eat from the tree of life, and so they died.
Did you know that that tree comes up again? Side note: I didn’t know that before today, and my mind is getting blown up.
To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.”
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
The tree is situated along the water of life that flows from the throne of God and the Lamb.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
We lost access to the tree of life when Adam sinned, but through Jesus we gain access to it again! Because of Jesus, we can be righteous and justified in the sight of God, thus reversing the effect that Satan used to have on us. We are no longer destined for destruction–we are destined to reign with God forever and ever (Rev. 22:5)!
As if that wasn’t enough, God passes the old things to pass away entirely–everything that used to be warped by the fall is going to be completely gone someday.
Do you ever have a sort of nostalgia for something that hasn’t happened yet? That is the best word I can think of to describe how I feel whenever I read Revelation 21:1-6. It lays out all of the ways that the fall will be reversed in the end.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
The sea was seen as a symbol of violence and death–this could be a way of symbolizing the fact that death will be no more.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
The dwelling place of God will be with man, and they will be His people. The restoration of God’s reign among (and walk alongside) man will be even more glorious than at first, in the garden of Eden, because of what has been overcome…because of the conflict that has been resolved.
Sometimes I wonder if part of the reason God allowed all of these things to happen is because He wanted to tell us an incredible love story.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
God Himself will personally wipe away the tears from our eyes. None of is are untouched by death, by the effects of the curse. We have all suffered heartbreak and pain in this life.
But God Himself will wipe away our tears. What a tender moment that will be.
Death, mourning, crying, and pain will be a thing of the past. Can you even imagine a life like that?
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
When the God of the universe says “all things,” I truly believe He means every last thing. He is renewing everything. Some things He is allowing to pass away entirely, and other things (like you and me) He is keeping, but transforming.
He is the beginning and the end. He was there in the beginning, and after all is said and done, we will still have Him.
He is the only constant. When we walked away, He remained. His love never faltered and His personality never changed. He is always and forever the Great I Am, the One powerful and merciful beyond words.
He is the Renewer of everything that has fallen.
We can find great hope in that.
I know this post is longer than most, so thank you for sticking with it. There is so much power in knowing the story of us. I am more amazed by it every day.
Until next time,