Revelation #7: The beast’s M.O.

By Phillip Medhurst (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Phillip Medhurst (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark…

Revelation 13:14-16

What a passage! One fantastical beast follows another. What could it all mean? Even the most learned Bible scholars probably can’t say for certain, but one thing pointed out in last week’s lecture was that these beasts and the dragon appear to be a counterfeit of God himself- an unholy Trinity.

To discover where he might be present today, I think we should pay close attention to the beast’s Modus Operandi.

First, he uses deception by performing a great show displaying his power (verse 13). Deception is literally the oldest trick in the book, first used with Eve in the garden (Genesis 3).

Satan is big into “knock off” designer wear. It looks like the real thing until you examine it closer. Since his full power isn’t yet unleashed, his tricks rely on subtlety, mimicking what God does.

I recently set up a table with my books at a community market. The next aisle over, a woman set up a booth with cute little angel figurines. I believe her business had to do with “angel readings,” as if she was claiming to talk to angels and channel their messages to anyone who wished to purchase her services. What a deception! Those are not the kind of angels we want to be talking to and we are expressly told not to use third parties (mediums) to communicate with the spirit world (Leviticus 20:27). If God has a special message for us, he is perfectly capable of sending his own messenger angels.

An even more widespread deception is the lure of wealth and prosperity. Popular TV evangelists twist this as being part of what God’s plan for his people. Let’s take an objective look at the most wealthy and famous people on earth. Do they have peace in their hearts? Satisfaction? We don’t need to look any further than Hollywood to see that all that glitters is not gold—family dysfunctions, addictions,  and suicide are rampant among those who have wealth and fame.

Every day in my own life, I fight deceptions and temptations. I struggle with empty uses of my time. These pastimes seem attractive and harmless enough, but keep me from doing things that are better.  Discouraging thoughts threaten to paralyse me if I don’t stay in the Word and anchored to God’s truth. It should be obvious where those are coming from.

Contrast the real thing here. Deception is not in God’s character. Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:6) Our job is to become familiar enough with the Truth so we can avoid being deceived.

Next, in Revelation 13, this beast throws the weight of his new power around. He orders people to set up an image, incidentally going directly against God’s repeated command to not set up images of Him or worship them (Exodus  20). Anyone who refuses to worship the image the beast has made will be killed.  Then the beast forces people to have a mark allowing them to make any financial transaction. He becomes an evil dictator.

After we give in to Satan’s deceptions, he limits our choices:

If you give in to the temptation of taking illicit drugs or drink alcohol to forget your troubles, you may become addicted. Your choices will only revolve around getting more drugs or booze.

If you give in to sexual temptation with someone you are not married to, you may get pregnant. Your choices become very limited. Ironically, though ending a pregnancy by abortion appears to be a “choice,” it completely eliminates any choice your child might have ever had.

False religion uses force and lack of choice. Cults offer their followers strict regimes, no latitude in thinking and dire consequences for disagreeing with the leader or group.

Religions which force conversion attempt to bring an earthly kingdom by eliminating their opposition or making people’s lives very difficult. Today, Christian brothers and sisters face the sword of radical Islam and have given up their lives rather than renounce Jesus Christ. These type of events sound like they are straight out of Revelation!

Jesus, on the other hand, does not use force. He gently invites us. Revelation 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).  Instead of asking us to give up our lives, he gave up His in order to have a relationship with us.

When did Satan ever give up something for you or give you a choice that made your life better?

Lastly, I observe this beast brings bondage and slavery. In fact that is all he has ever done. Since that first great deception, we are born to sin and slaves to it. Romans 6:16a explains the concept. 6 “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death…”

Offering oneself as a slave was often the only way a person had of paying off a debt. In some places in the world, this still occurs, but the person making the loan will make the interest so high, the debt becomes impossible to pay.

Eventually debtor remorse for the “loan” of what people thought they wanted, will be unprecedented. The people at the beginning of this chapter thought the first beast and the dragon were the greatest and worshipped them (verse 3, 4). The realization that they would have a debt to pay for their terrible sin of worshipping someone other than God, was far from their minds, but they become enslaved to the second beast, receiving his mark, just as a slave receives a tattoo or an animal is branded for ownership.

Slavery at this point in the narrative appears hopeless. There is no way out.

Except, as far as we know, these events have not yet taken place and people can still reject the Beast and his wicked ways.

The notes of week 17 state: “Satan’s worst devastation and deception cannot defeat the purposes of God.”

I would argue that one of Satan’s most insidious deceptions is slavery to believing that we can make it on our own. This is what “religion” teaches. Being good will get you to God. Do this and you will get salvation. Complete these rituals. Follow this path, wear these symbols. Legalistic thinking creeps in like a poison, even into our churches. NONE of these methods of getting to God will result in our redemption.

In contrast, Jesus promises the greatest and most complete freedom. We can throw off that burdensome yoke and the slavery of trying to be good when we follow Jesus.  The chains of sin that bind us will fall away. He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened… my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30.) He invites us to life with Him and will change us from the inside out making us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The end result of Jesus’ way is freedom from fear! We need not fear death, Satan, his deceptions, his future dictatorship or his enslavement. Scary looking beasts, dragons or any earthly kingdoms or people they represent, cannot harm us.

We only need to know how the enemy works. Have ears to hear (verse 9). Recognize the enemy and have patient endurance and faithfulness (verse 10) as you worship the one true God.

Note: This series of blogs, while growing out of a “Bible Study Fellowship” (BSF) study of Revelation, is not affiliated or endorsed by BSF. Nor are these writings any sort of definitive theological commentary. The opinions expressed here are simply my own thoughts and reflections on the book and what I am learning from the study. Scripture passages quoted are from the NIV unless otherwise stated.

 

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Revelation#6: Every Nation, Tribe and Language

EverynationRevelation 7:9 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes holding palm branches in their hands.”

Back in college we had an annual missions conference. One year the theme was “Hidden Peoples.” We placed posters all over campus, depicting people from various ethnicities and cultures. At the conference we learned about mission efforts focused on people groups who had not yet been exposed to the Gospel. Years later, many of these tribes still face significant and multiple barriers included inaccessible geography, languages unspoken by anyone else on earth and cultural practices that are foreign even to other groups around them.

It is estimated by Frontier Ventures (formerly US Center for World Mission) that there are still 7000 unreached people groups “who have yet to receive a culturally relevant witness in their language.” https://www.frontierventures.org/blog/a

The Bible is clear that people from EVERY tribe, people and language will be present in that multitude that stands before the lamb. So given the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, how will this happen?

Historically it was daunting to reach these groups. The image of a missionary in a pith helmet bushwhacking his way through the jungle isn’t such a distant a memory and in some parts of the world still a reality.

But the technology of the last 100 years has enabled and transformed mission work. Small airplanes now make regular treks into areas that took weeks to reach. Radio broadcasts reach into countries that traditional missionaries can’t. Computers have made painstaking Bible translation a less onerous undertaking and now we have the internet, arguably the greatest game-changer of all time.

Not only has technology changed things for the missionary in the foreign field, but unprecedented migration of refugees fleeing wars and famine is bringing the world to our doorstep of the Western world. The way is being paved for representatives from each people group in the world to stand before the throne. It is thrilling to read of God’s work around the world in light of what his plans are in the book of Revelation.

Like most of you I will probably not be whacking my way through the jungle in the near future, but I often wonder how I can be more involved in sharing life giving Gospel truth. It appears that my main participation in the Great Commission at present is writing. In fact I am finding it difficult to write anything that doesn’t somehow bring the gospel and a Christian perspective into it, even when attempting to write for a more secular audience!

Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14.  The gospel WILL be preached. If we have been reached with the life-changing words of Jesus, we are part of this and cannot just sit back and wait for His kingdom to come.

Not only should we uphold in prayer and financial support those who work on the front lines of spiritually dark areas in the world, but we all have a part to play fulfilling the great commission in whatever forum is before us- our workplace, our schools, neighborhoods and even our online interactions.

The BSF notes from Lesson 12 state “our challenge is to know God’s truth, believe the Gospel, share it with others and stand firm for Christ in the world.”

Let’s start and end 2016 with this challenge!

Note: This series of blogs, while growing out of a “Bible Study Fellowship” (BSF) study of Revelation, is not affiliated or endorsed by BSF. Nor are these blog any sort of definitive theological commentary. The opinions expressed here are simply my own thoughts and reflections on the book and what I am learning from the study.
Unless otherwise noted, all references are quoted from the New International Version.
Photo Attributions l to r
1) By Swiss Federal Council [Attribution], via Wikimedia Common  2) By Yann (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons  3) Public Domain  4) By Swiss Federal Council [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons  5) By Richard F Jones, Market Day in Meo Vac https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

 

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Revelation #5 Will you worship?

Revelation 4:11

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

light-play-at-sundown

One morning, earlier this fall,  I felt particularly down and discouraged. I sat down to do my BSF and pray. I’d been waiting, not so patiently, to see God work. After praying, I looked up and out the window. At that exact moment a hummingbird alighted to feed on some late-blooming flowers in the planter on the deck. I was encouraged.

Yesterday a similar incident gave me pause. I had just heard of a death in my extended family. As I began to prepare dinner, I couldn’t help but feel sad for those she has left behind. My husband turned my attention from the stove to the window. The rain and wind of earlier in the day had settled down and clouds glowed the colour of pewter. Sunlight illuminated the trees and grass, revealing a brilliant contrast between land and sky. Just then, an eagle soared across this stunning scene, right towards our house. It all happened too quickly for the camera, or to even step outside, but it was a breath-taking moment that lifted my spirits.

It is not easy to really imagine heaven, but at times like these, I begin to understand there is some wondrous and real connection between heaven and earth.  Creation tells me so in Psalm 19.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”

Can we hear what creation is telling us? When we don’t pay attention, it may seem unintelligible, but creation’s declarations have a lot to do with heaven and future things.  All creation is praising God right now and His creatures, including us, will do so forever!

To me, these scenes in my field of earthly vision, were more than a momentary gift, but a challenge to do what all creation is doing and will do forever.

Through His creation, God is asking, will I also worship? Will I praise Him in spite of loss and pain?  When I don’t know what to do or I wonder how and when my prayers will be answered, will I acknowledge the Lamb who sits on the throne? Will I quit being impatient and just worship?

With the winged creatures, the twenty-four elders and all of creation I will sing:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13b)

 

Note: This series of blogs, while growing out of a “Bible Study Fellowship” (BSF) study of Revelation, is not affiliated or endorsed by BSF. Nor are these blog any sort of definitive theological commentary. The opinions expressed here are simply my own thoughts and reflections on the book and what I am learning from the study.
image: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/ Light play at sundown

 

 

 

 

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Revelation #4: Chosen to be Changed

 

By Karelj (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1980’s, I attended a small denominational Bible College. Occasionally, the Board of Governors met on campus and took their meals in the dining hall. On one occasion I observed a group of card players pick up their game and slip into a corner behind the door to finish out of view of the Board. I don’t recall that anyone had ever said we couldn’t play those kinds of cards. It was just an understanding that some might be offended at such a pursuit. For that reason, Rook®,  with its numbered cards was the game of choice for many of us.

My college was actually surprisingly free of strict rules which defined other similar evangelical institutions at the time. Sure, we were to stay out of each other’s dorms and were not allowed to wear jeans to class, but we often joked about schools with their stricter rules and “pink and blue” sidewalks to keep the guys and girls separated. While the sidewalks did not actually exist, presumably the comprehensive rules were to help remind students to live a life that was pleasing to God.

We, on the other hand, were told that young women were not to leave campus in the evening without a man. Why? Because this college was in the city and stranger danger was more likely than… Well mostly we had the sense to go out in groups in our evening hikes up to the nearest vista, which had been the local garbage dump.

Back in the dining hall, heated discussions, between third and fourth year theology students could be overheard. Election versus Free Will; The Sovereignty of God versus the Responsibility of man. Occasionally these discussions would disintegrate a little with one student good-naturedly calling the other a “Heretic!” Though I was just a second year and hadn’t taken any advanced theology, I found these discussions quite entertaining and informative.

What were they grappling with? God has chosen us, since before the foundation of the world. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) At the same time we are responsible to reach out and grasp the salvation that we are offered. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— (John 1:12) It is a wondrous thing and I will attempt no further explanation of these truths!

The important thing is God’s work of Salvation doesn’t end when He grafts us into His tree (Romans 11). A graft needs to take root, to grow, to bear fruit. Otherwise it is a dead little stick, a useless branch.

We are chosen to be changed, as Linda, our teaching leader, stated in her lecture and as the apostle Paul stated in Romans 8:29a. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Again in Romans 12:2, the believer is reminded to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

We are refined by the work of His Spirit as we serve Him. “…live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1b)

The transformation of the believer seems to be what some of the churches of Revelation missed out on. Let’s not miss this truth today!

I know many people are proud of their alma mater, but I think our college got something very right. We didn’t need pink and blue sidewalks or special edicts about card playing because it was never about the rules. It was about being transformed.

That is God’s work in us. Being changed is what He has chosen us for.

“Note: Although passages in Revelation aren’t specifically mentioned here, this part of the study is to remind us “who are God’s people?” (Notes, Second Day (Lesson 7)
(Image: By Karelj (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Note: This series of blogs, while growing out of a “Bible Study Fellowship” (BSF) study of Revelation, is not affiliated or endorsed by BSF. Nor are these blog any sort of definitive theological commentary. The opinions expressed here are simply my own thoughts and reflections on the book and what I am learning from the study.
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Revelation #3: El Roi; the God who Sees.

Revelation 2: 18, 23   These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze…I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

Question 8 in the BSF lesson 5 reads: What did you learn about Jesus when you compare verses 18 and 23 and how does this challenge or comfort you? What a question!

The images of Jesus in these passages are powerful and symbolic of the Risen Son. Eyes like blazing fire- eyes that burn through darkness and shadow, seeing beyond our façade into our hearts and souls.

In our small group, before open session, I shared that these verses brought to mind a hymn we sang when I was growing up, “Search me Oh God.” I recalled a sense of discomfort and sometimes conviction caused by the words.

Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free

(James E. Orr, Public Domain)

Nothing about us is secret.  He is El Roi, the God who sees (Genesis 16:3). Psalm 139 lays out the extent of this truth:

You have searched me, Lord,  and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.

Take a moment and really think about that.

We cannot hide who we really are from God. Nor can we hide our true motivations, our impure thoughts or the lack of forgiveness we may hold in our hearts. Might as well confess and be cleansed. Doing so will help us to lead a different life- one that proves out what we really believe.

Jesus knows that too.

In Revelation 2:19 the message to the church at Thyatira, continues:

“I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.”

Have you ever experienced those situations where you tried hard to do the right thing and somehow your true intentions were misunderstood? Or a time where you secretly helped someone but saved them the embarrassment of knowing who helped them? Or perhaps you instigated a successful project, did almost all the work and someone else got the credit?

So not only does Jesus see our sin and shame, he also sees our true convictions, our best efforts and good works done in secret.

Interestingly enough, the result of Jesus seeing both the good and the bad, if we believe and accept His complete work of His salvation, is the same. (Don’t forget, our good deeds don’t amount to much compared to what He has done.) It’s all covered over when we put on Christ.

Revelation 3:4-5 “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.”

What a comfort! Jesus cleanses us, dresses us in white and has our name in His book.

After our discussion group, I walked into the church sanctuary and sat down. Guess which hymn appeared on the overhead? Here is the second verse.

I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill Thy word and make me pure within;
Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.

Praise God, we are covered.

Note: This series of blogs, while growing out of a “Bible Study Fellowship” (BSF) study of Revelation, is not affiliated or endorsed by BSF. Nor are these blog any sort of definitive theological commentary. The opinions expressed here are simply my own thoughts and reflections on the book and what I am learning from the study.

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#2 Revelation: The Ultimate Blessing

 

The word is used a lot today. We use “Feeling Blessed” as our status when things are going well and we are able to look on the bright side. Signing off our correspondence we write “Blessings” to wish the recipient of our message well. Counting our blessings with a heart of thanksgiving, has even become an informal movement among believers, instigated in part by author Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.

But then there is Laura Story’s chart topping song, entitled “Blessings”:

“‘…what if Your blessings come through raindrops…tears…sleepless nights”

Honestly, I wasn’t that thrilled when I first heard this song. My physical pain doesn’t feel like a blessing. I’m not fond of sleepless nights and I don’t do tears if I can avoid it.  While I understand that God works through difficulty and pain to refine us, I find it hard to see trials and suffering as blessings.

What is “blessing” anyway? A comprehensive answer would take longer than I have, so I hope this will suffice.  Some translations of the Bible substitute the word “happy,” but in my opinion the English word falls short.

Here are a few definitions of the noun “blessed”:

-a special favor, mercy, or benefit

-the invoking of God’s favor upon a person

Blessing, of course is also a verb, as used by God to Abraham (Genesis 12:2) and Isaac (Genesis 25:11).

Isaac, when blessing Jacob includes these words “heaven’s dew and earth’s richness, an abundance of grain and new wine.” (Genesis 27:28.) These would signify material blessing—you know, the kind we all want. Certain TV preachers would lead us to believe we are entitled to material blessings from God and that our happiness is the definitive goal.

Revelation 1:3 tells us we will be blessed. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

What kind of blessing is the apostle John speaking of? If I delve into the book of Revelation does this mean I get a new house, a new car, solid finances, perfect children and an end to physical pain? Will I wake up happy and smiling every day?

When the apostle John wrote these words, he wasn’t living it up. He was in exile, banished to an island for preaching the gospel. Not what most of us would consider “blessed.”

Going back again to Genesis, God also promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) a covenant blessing, one that was not dependant on what they or their descendants would do (Genesis 12:3, 26:4, 28:14-15) “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”

Obviously this could not be a material blessing. Many nations of the world live in poverty and the nation of Israel has not exactly seen peace and prosperity throughout its existence.

As believers, we now know that Jesus Christ fulfills that promise of blessing for all peoples, through His salvation.

The blessing John was speaking of is also a spiritual blessing, the completion of that covenant promised in Genesis. The blessing of Revelation is to be found in knowing and worshipping Jesus Christ. Lesson 2 of the BSF notes states (p.2): “Revelation unveils God’s own Person, the greatness of His Son and the activity of His Spirit.” Knowing, understanding and taking Jesus to heart is the ultimate blessing.

Laura Story, the writer of the song, is a woman well acquainted with unexpected challenges in life and I’m sure she knows that it is in times of struggle, when we are driven to our knees and to the throne of God’s infinite grace that we get to know Jesus better.

That is the sum of all blessings, for today and for eternity.

Note: This series of blogs, while growing out of a “Bible Study Fellowship” (BSF) study of Revelation, is not affiliated or endorsed by BSF. Nor are these writings any sort of definitive theological commentary. The opinions expressed here are simply my own thoughts and reflections on the book and what I am learning from the study. Scripture passages quoted are from the NIV unless otherwise stated.
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#1 Revelation series: One Story

 

 

 

bible-open-to-psalm-118On occasion I visit and post on a social media site where people ask all sorts of questions and others post answers.  One of the topics is Bible and others are asked to interpret or define this or that incident in the Bible. Often, a question is posed from the most obscure and difficult passages. Whether they are skeptics, cynics or true seekers is hard to say, but it seems to me that a lot of Biblical misunderstanding arises when people view the Bible as a collection of random short stories. While we can learn from each story as a stand alone account, many stories, especially those in the Old Testament (the time before Christ) don’t make a great deal of sense unless we take time to understand what came before, what came after and what the story meant to its original audience in their cultural context.

To take note of, when looking at any passage is God’s eternal character. Revelation 1:8 states “He is the Alpha, the Omega, the beginning and the end.” This is one of many clues to the thread that ties the whole Bible together as a unit.

The Bible is One Story, an incredible narrative written by God’s breath, through his servants. The thread (spoiler alert) is God’s redemption plan for His people. The first clues are found in the very first book. In Genesis 3:15, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s directive regarding the tree, he stated His plan of redemption, involving the offspring of the woman (Jesus) and a final triumph over the serpent (Satan).

The last book of the Bible, Revelation, focuses on the plan coming to its holy consummation. It is the grand finale, the finale explosive act of the play, if you will. Is it easy to understand? Not so much. I doubt that I will understand even half of it. Even renowned Bible scholars share the mystification. Perhaps we would do best to think of Revelation as a play filled with metaphors, symbolism and other mysteries.

But since we are looking at One Story here, at least some of these things can be detected by figuring out where else in the Bible the ideas occur.

Going back to Genesis again, here is another thing which indicates the One Story idea. When God created Adam and Eve, He was with His first two children, presumably1 in a tangible way, when he placed them in the garden. They had no shame in their nakedness (Genesis 2:5) before the God of the universe who came and walked in the garden with them. It was all great until Adam and Eve chose to disregard God’s direction for them.

Their special and intimate relationship with God was broken, not only for them but for every human being who has lived since. It is only through Jesus, the Promised one that we can have fellowship with God at all. Because of Him, we can stand as if we had never sinned and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, comforts us in our weakness and empowers our life as new creations as we give testament to His grace. Salvation from our sins was completed at the cross and spiritual death conquered by Jesus’ resurrection.

But is everything complete?

Let’s face it, life here on earth is not always that great. Even if, as believers we have God’s Spirit living within us, the heartbreak, suffering and trials of our human existence can be difficult.

So here is the really exciting part that God has promised. The completion of our relationship with Him is yet to come- Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes…’ “

Yes, God will dwell with His people once again. He will live and commune with us as He once did in the garden of Eden. Things will be restored to the way it was in the beginning. It reminds me of a do-over that a gracious parent gives an errant child, but this restoration can never be destroyed by our foolish choices. Jesus has made it right.

Though I usually hate to come to the end of a good book, I can’t wait for the wrap up of this one. God’s story is coming full circle, I can hardly wait!

  1. Scholars differ on exactly what form God used to make his presence known.
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