The Story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration

February 10, 2019 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: The Story

Passage: Genesis 1–3, Matthew 1–4, Revelation 21–22

Introduction | Who is the author?

Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we are going to look at, The Story looking at the narrative of the Bible. Who is the author of your story and every other story? We make bad authors because we are flawed characters. We write stories about us that are too small… because they start and end with us. We have to look to better author who isn’t as flawed as we are who has written a bigger story that by nature can’t start with us, but who still knows all the characters. The storyline of the Bible (and THE metanarrative of history) in its simplest form can be understood through the four words: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.

PART I | Creation

Creation | Good - In the Beginning God.The Story begins with God not us. GOD IS, God exists. The only other option besides in the beginning God is in the beginning nothing or in the beginning us. Before you, me, or any other person enters the scene of The Story there is God. Eternal, God had no beginning, rather God began all beginning. We need to understand this character or we’ll get the story wrong. God has many attributes you can fit into three key categories that help us understand the author of The Story.

God is powerful (Sovereign) There is not one thing happens outside of God’s control. He as absolute control that means there isn’t something, someone, or some force greater than God which God can’t overcome. In The Story God is the King creation is His kingdom and no other king or kingdom is greater. That means there is no other stories, god’s, or people to ultimately appeal to beside God to influence our circumstances. It means there isn’t anything random or accidental in the perspective of God. Because God is all powerful we can trust He is able to do all things necessary to accomplish His purposes.Psalm 135:5-6

God is wise (all knowing) seeing everything in perfect perspective. God is never surprised. He is never confused or perplexed. God is wholly competent to be God. He is not foolish does not use bad judgement does not make mistakes, and is able to see the big picture and know each individual part fully comprehend all outcomes to all actions. Because God is wise we can trust he knows what do in all circumstances.Is 40:28

God is good (Loving). He is always trust worthy and acting with perfect justice, mercy, and love. God defines goodness. We cannot define goodness apart from God or that we ourselves should judge God based on any standard we come up with. God is good all of the time, all of the time God is good. We know what love is from God. Because God is good and loving we can trust God will do what is right. Psalm 145:7-8 | They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

What happens when you take one of these away?God is wise and good, but not powerful. – He knows what is right and desires for good and loving things to happen in the story but he is powerless (or disengaged, or handcuffed) by something more powerful. (This could be our own will individually or collectively) God is powerful and good but not wise- God can effect change and engage with the world, God has really good intentions but He is basically incompetent. He gets things wrong, he doesn’t understand what he’s done or not doing. Lastly, when we take the goodness of God away we end up with the greatest potential of terror. A god who is all powerful, knows precisely every outcome but lacks goodness, even consistency. You end up with a god that randomly rages. This is a Bad Story. God is good all of the time. His goodness is not a mood but a state of being.What you believe about the main character and author will determine how you view the rest of The Story.

All powerful, He merely spoke the Universe into existence. He wasn’t dependent on anything outside of himself to create, there wasn’t stand alone raw materials that God then fit together. He is all wise, there is great intentionally in every aspect of His creation. Each part was made in the wisdom and knowledge of an intelligent design.Because God is good, all He made He created “good”. In this, we see creation itself isn’t good, but because it’s made by a good Creator.

Genesis 1:26-28 |26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Where are we in this chapter of the story? Humanity is made to participate in His creation by reflecting the good and creative character of God. As His creation, we recognize we are not all powerful or wise and we are dependent on the Creator. All good we have or experience comes from Him. Because there is a Creator we can know we are made distinct and we are made for a purpose. Because God is wise and good we can trust His good design for our life and world. Because there is a God, we can have great freedom knowing we are not Him. This releases us from the tremendous pressure of believing we write our own stories. We understand our roll in The Story knowing we are Created purposefully for a purpose.

His image! God doesn’t talk about any other aspect of His creation being made in His “image and likeness” Now His attributes can be expressed in creation (might river, wings of eagles, etc) His image! God doesn’t talk about any other aspect of His creation being made in His “image and likeness” We see a clear order of creation that God places, explicitly ranks men and women to be OVER the rest of creation. It’s what makes a grilled cow a great meal and grilled person a great tragedy.

Male and Female, Both created in the image of God. This means there are distinct yet equal characters in the story. This is exceedingly important when we look at other chapters in the story and see women treated as less than or when our world tries to elevate one gender over another or calm it is somehow it is man made invention of our culture. It is a distortion from what was intended at the beginning of the story.

Be Fruitful and Multiply productive and prosper. Verse 28 says that God blessed them for a purpose! God has blessed people to procreate to fill the earth to work similar to Him in taking what is formless and empty and making it intentional, orderly, and filled. The story will have many more people! More people is God’s design and we are to work with creation to subdue it for the purposes of human flourishing.We didn’t invent delight and joy God did. We didn’t invent beauty God did. We didn’t invent gender identity or sexuality God did. We didn’t’ come up with the concept of Marriage God did.We didn’t invent the idea of work or purpose, God did.

PART II | FALL | Gen 3

Fall | Bad -Humanity rebels against the Creator by rejecting God’s good command in exchange for their own self-rule and separation from God. This rejection of God is sin, infecting every person and part of God’s good creation. The consequences of sin are death (spiritually, relationally, and physically), suffering, disease, conflict, injustice, pain, toil, and separation between God and humanity.

Genesis 3:1-6 | Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Now a villain enters The Story. We met “The serpent” We know from the rest of The Story this serpent is how satan engaged with humanity. that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world (Rev12:9)The villain is a created being, not ying and yang of some eternal power struggle between co-equal god’s, but we know it was “craftier” than any other created beings. In this case it include humanity as we will see because he has the ability to completely distort the created reality and get humanity to willingly exchange the truth about God for lies; and life and delight for death and despair.

Doubt God’s word Confuse God’s people by questioning God’s word by quoting it inaccurately. “Did God really say?” In his challenge to eve he make God’s word exceedingly more restrictive than it ever was. The serpent says “God said you can’t eat of any of tree in garden” and God said “You may surely eat of EVERY tree in the garden….. but one, displaying your reliance and obedience.” We somehow believe that God set up some trap for us, “Ha ha! I can’t wait till they eat this one.” No! God created a place of delight with one simple and small restraint to remind of us our reliance in a paradise of delight. The first assault the enemy wages is a sideways jab at God’s character painting a picture that God would actually be pleased to created people and place them in a paradise delights they are told they can’t enjoy.

We create legalism God word is freedom, His law is just and His yoke is light. When Eve responds to the serpent she quotes back God’s word but with an addition, not only should you not eat it but you “should not touch it.” Before there was the enemy sowing seeds of doubt for God’s word we see there was a breakdown of gospel centered discipleship.

Enemies lieno consequences for sin. You won’t die!What God said is not true. That means God is a liar. The sideways “did God really say” confusion is turned quickly to direct assault on God’s good character. He doesn’t mean what he says. He cannot be trusted to be just. While separating from the sources of all joy and life will not lead to despair and death it will lead to fuller life. You once only knew good but God knows both good and evil. God is holding out on you, holding back from you. God is not for you. God wants to keep you from reaching your full potential. You can be like God. (They already were!!! They were made in His image and innocent of any sin or brokenness part of God’s Very Good creation.

You can have all of the garden with none of the God. There was a choice: Will I trust my ability to discern what is good and right on my own (It’s good for food, it looks really good, it will make me wise to experience what has been forbidden) OR will I trust God’s word (You already are in a land of delight I created and created you to enjoy but you are to despite what I personally perceive. The enemy doesn't get you to betray God by asking you to pledging allegiance to satan because that is too easy for us to reject. Instead, he presents a far more tempting offer: "Pledge allegiance to yourself.” She bits down and become an evangelist for the cult of self and get her husband to join. Adam has been there the whole time. Silently standing like a coward while His wife is theologically take behind the woodshed. All it takes is evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing, also includes good men to say nothing. 

PART III | Results of sin | Genesis 3:7-19

Genesis 3:7-19 |Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But The Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

There is an immediate result. Their hearts and minds were opened (not illuminated as if they were in the dark) and became filled with sin and shame. They had not known evil but now they do. Evil was added to what was good and thus is no longer good. Where they had previously enjoyed secure emotional, relational, spiritual, and physical intimacy Their relationship is forever damaged, Eve will never again trust Adam to protect her or trust his leadership, while Adam is covered with the shame of self-doubt. Where they had trust, intimacy, and security they suddenly felt hurt, alienated, and exposed. They waged a half hearted/ineffective attempt to cover their sin and shame. Suddenly nothing feels safe, in their sin they don’t run to each other and they don’t run to God. We try to cover our own shame and sin.

God pursues and they hide. God comes to the garden to check in with Adam. Shamed by their sin and rightfully fearing God’s wrath, they hide themselves and continue believe the lie that God does not love them. They also believe a new lie that they can hide themselves and their sin from God. He knows where they are and he knows their sin and yet God responses both patience and mercy.“Who told you had to be ashamed, only sin can lead to shame.”Mercy by not instantly fulfilling his end of the covenant and patience to give them an opportunity to confess and repent. God’s delayed justice should not be taken to see God as soft but rather to be seen as His patience desiring our repentance Often when we receive mercy, or experience God’s patience we wrongly assume there are no consequences for our actions. Where he was silent in defending God’s word he speaks to defend his sin. Adam is silent when confronted with temptation, and when God’s word is challenged, but he’s more than willing to speak to defend His own sinfulness and neglect. God the women you gave me!! It wasn’t good for many to be alone, now man is blaming God for sin entering creation. The man has self-doubt no longer having a rooted identity as created by a good God. He has separation from God by continuing to mock God’s character. Eve and all of us as individual are responsible for our own sin, even when we’ve been sinned against.Eve’s answer to God isn’t much better than Adam’s, “The devil made me do it!” She still doesn’t accept any responsibility for her sin, but at least she doesn’t attempt to place the blame on her spouse or God. From both of them there is no confession, no repentance only further failure and rebellion. God responds. He knows the serpent is the author of lies and has no opportunity to shift blame any further. God say you are the most cursed being in all of creation and there will be an ongoing battle between you, the women and her off spring. One which the serpent will eventually lose.

For the woman: There is a two fold curse. Where you will still be the vehicle for multiplication of humanity what was intended to be fruitful will instead be painful. The birth process will be exceedingly painful. The process of raising a child will also be fought with a multiplication of frustration as you raise little sinners some of who will break your heart in pursuing their idols and joining the same cult of self-worship. You will also desire to have your husbands role by being in direct opposition to his direction. You will want to rule over him and he will respond by assertively ruling over you or absently rejecting you. This beautiful marriage relationship intend to be cooperatively complementarian is now marred in contrarian conflict.

For the men: Work becomes toil. Placed in garden of delight where you can eat of fruit already planted to painfully working for all of your daily bread. Freedom is now replaced with struggle. We were made to rule over animals and creation and now the ground will actively work against man. The serpent rules over humanity when we are called to rule over the animals. We are called to eat and gain life from the fruit of the trees and not we have You have drugs made from plants that can be used for medicine that now totally enslave people in addiction. We become authors of our own morality and kingdoms of one that we fight to protect. When we were created to cultivate and protect the garden. A generation later rejection of God’s word turns to murder and then generations of war, conflict, genocide. There is a downward spiral father from the garden with God to the wilderness of Man’s new kingdom.The effects of sin multiply through the conversation and through all creation.Disease decay all not natural to the creation God made but are invaders as a result of sin. 

Mercy and Grace| Genesis 3:20-24

20 The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Man is now a rebel and there is no place for him in the garden communing with God and feeding from the tree of life. But in the darkness we instantly see God’s mercy as he sacrifices an animal (sin demands a cost) and makes clothes to cover the shame of His fallen people. Life blood has to be shed to pay for the mortal offense of sin. The one sinned against is God, he is eternal so the offense is an eternal one. In this you have a picture of sacrifice. God takes sin seriously. To maintain the holiness and purity of the Garden, Man is cast out in to the barren desert, separated from God, where misery, pain, and death will inevitably overcome Him. But there is a promise made

PART IV | Redemption |

Matthew 3:13-17 | 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Around the age of 30 Jesus begins His public ministry by coming to his cousin John the Baptizer. John has been preaching “repent the kingdom of heaven is at hand” The kingdom of heaven is at hand because the King of heaven has arrived in Jesus. He is telling people there is sin that needs to be dealt with.They have been made dirty because of their sin and need to be made clean. The Baptism of John is symbolic of repentance turning from sin and being made clean. But he says a better baptism is coming that includes the Holy Spirit breathing new life into dead hearts because of allegiance to the king of Heaven.

Jesus arrives as says “John I need you to baptism me too.” John is a bit skeptical because He has said “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and I am not worthy to untie this guys sandals.” But there was a purpose in this. He is revealing his identity while identifying with His people. What wasn’t explicitly done by Jesus conscious actions in Jesus going to Egypt and back as an infant, Jesus come to launch his ministry/mission by EXPLICITLEY identifying with a new people in Baptism. Jesus didn’t need to be made clean, he already was. Jesus didn’t need to repent, he already was sinless. Jesus life is already following some national and family themes of the people of God. But in His Baptism he is entering into the individual story of sinners who need to be cleaned, estranged people who need to be made family, and rebels who need to become citizens. Jesus has arrived to save a people, a family, to build a kingdom AND to do it by saving individual people like, me and you, who become family and citizens.

We also are given a reminder of a key piece of Jesus identity that has been revealed with His virgin birth and angels singing to shepherds, but that was 30 years ago and a virgin birth is pretty hard to verify.Now his identity is being broadcast to all who can hear and see. As Jesus is identifying with lost sinners, seeking repentance and restoration, Jesus is being identified by God the Father as God the Son.Jesus is God. Then God the Holy Spirit descends on him like a dove and in case the symbolism is lost on everyone God the Father speaks and says “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” We see again the trinity the 3 in 1 God who was present working together in the creation of the universe is now made manifest in the creation of the new mission to make people new. He is identifying with the dirty and estranged in front of the dirty and estranged, so the dirty and estranged can be call sons and daughters not who are subjects of just wrath, but as those who God can say I am well pleased. He is giving hope to those seeking it.

The Story of His Victory | Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the templeand said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Lead by the Spirit (this is purposeful) Jesus goes into the wilderness with the express purpose of facing temptation from….there he is again the devil, satan, the serpent, from Gen 3 has returned to face off against the second Adam. The symbolism of this in the story is also rich and multi layered. This is Adam and Eve in the garden, to Jesus in the desert. This is also God’s people who spent 40 faithless years in the wilderness being perfectly feed and Jesus spending 40 days fasting and remaining faithful. Yet is says hungry. That’s an understatement! This was a real temptation, when you’re hungry, tired, angry, or stress happens you are more prone to sin.Adam failed in the garden, a place of perfect provision comfort and enjoyment where he enjoyed the community of his bride and his maker. Jesus is alone, hungry in the wilderness and the same enemy come to divide and devour. This is a trail where it says “Jesus is tempted in every way we are and is without sin.” Satan begins again with questioning what is true… If you are the Son of God…. (The Voice of the Father JUST proclaimed it!!) use your power to make food to eat. Jesus responds with God’s word. Paraphrase: Man is not sustained by creation alone but by the words of the Creator. Again… put in a different place, a holy place, in view of all the religious and powerful he could want to prove his identity to, jump from the top and fly by angels. This time satan twists God’s word again just like in the garden “Lets make Jesus think he can follow God’s word and deviate from the plan.” Again, Jesus responses with God’s word quoted accurately where Adam had remained silent. He’s quoting from Deut 6 and 8, the law people had been given when they were led by God in the wilderness! Where God’s people had failed to worship and obey and were given extended law to cover their excessive sins.Finally, another false promise. Follow me, pledge allegiance to me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world in their glory. Jesus is the King of Heaven, a kingdom all other kingdoms are less then. Satan’s play book has been effective in getting us to trade The Story for lesser stores but Jesus is the Hero of The Story, he’s not going to trade in THE kingdom for all the lesser kingdoms of the world. Jesus has prevailed, the Devil is deterred (Luke’s account says he departed for an opportune time)

In the life of Jesus, we begin to see how deep, complex, and comprehensive the Gospel (good news) of The Great Story is so much more than we have typically given it credit for. It HAS to be more than Jesus simply Jesus dying for our sin. Oh it is that for sure. But we see there was lots of opportunities for Jesus to “die for our sins” Jesus could have died for our sins as a two year old at the hands of Herod, Jesus could have died in the wilderness starving or ravaged by satan, Jesus could have been killed by the crowds of his own created people….but wasn’t. Apparently, the Gospel of the kingdom is so much more (but no less than) Jesus died for your sins so you could go to Heaven.Jesus life isn’t just a series of checking off different OT prophecies so we can know His identity. The Story of Jesus life doesn’t simply change The Story of our future in heaven but changes The Story of our life today. We look to Jesus as our Hero because he succeeds where we have failed. When it says tempted in every way we are… Jesus lives as a baby, child, adolescent, young, and mature man facing the unique temptations different life stages bring. Because he has bared our failure on the Cross He has given us the victory of his obedience Apparently, we need to soak deeply in to The Story of Jesus life to see and learn what our lives are actually supposed to look like. The life of Jesus matters because when our life is hidden with His we are taking on His obedience.

Because Jesus was faithful in the wilderness we can enter rest… Where Israel and Adam failed trials and were kept from entering (in Israel’s case) or expelled in Adam’s case Jesus prevails in another garden the night before crucifixion and again emerging from a garden tomb so His new people can enter into rest.

Because Jesus was faithful to God’s word we can trust God word to faithful produce in us.

Redemption | New - The Good God promises and sends a Redeemer to His people, Jesus Christ. In Jesus being truly God (God the Son) and truly man (born of a woman) He reconciles fallen humans to the perfect Creator by living a perfect (sinless) life, dying as a substitute for sinners on the cross, and resurrecting from death providing hope for this life and eternal life for those who believe in Him. Jesus ascends to heaven and sends the Holy Spirit to build His kingdom in the heart of His people. This redemption satisfies God’s just wrath and reconciles the estranged relationship between God and His people as they are adopted into His forever family.He commissions His disciples to make disciples and that is where we are today.

PART V | Restoration | Revelation

Restoration | Perfect - Jesus Christ who first came in humility, will return in glory to restore all of creation to God’s original intention ushering in a new heavens and new earth. Sin, death, disease, and tears will be no more as all things are made perfect and joy will be fully realized as God and His people again, and forever, dwell in perfect communion. Jesus rules as king of this ever-increasing kingdom where His will is finally and fully done in earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus Returns | Revelation 19:11-16

Revelation 19:11-16 | 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Here we are given an image of what it looks like when Jesus returns. God’s judgement came first against Jesus in our place. When Jesus returns there is final judgement. This should be a bit intimidating because we so often experience when people judge wrongly, we might fear God would do the same. But we don’t bemoan God for His promised return in Judgement because the one coming is always Faithful and True.

What is he making war on?He is making war on a city, nation, world that is opposed to God. The cannot be defined as faithful true and righteous. When we see imagery like war, wine press, wrath and fury. We have to know the context. (not explain away God’s wrath) to see God is the righteous. He is the faithful, He is the true. The nations are struck with a sword. Jesus is riding on a white horse to conquer the nations! These are the nations of the world opposed to God. They need to be ruled with a rod of Iron because they have all fallen out of line and if the they are going to be under submission of the kingdom they need to be lead with firm authority not weak suggestion. Not just North Korea or Iran, etc… where the UK and US is spared. NO! There is no US in the end of the Bible there is ONLY one kingdom, now there will be healing more later but as they are part of one forever kingdom. Victory over “the nations” is necessary for the Kingdom to flourish. This is a later! This is battle worth fighting but it’s not our battle. It’s Jesus battle that he wins with the Armies of Heaven not a right now battle that we win as onward Christian solders. Armies of Angels dress in white, pure. No camo or hidden but bold. They know victory is assured. Jesus wins is the Judgement.This is the final battle. We need the concept of Judgement. Because with it is the possibility of justice. Actually discerning what is right and wrong. How can we know that this is? What is the terms of judgement are we just driving down a road where the speed limits just changed but they didn’t post a sign? The Judge is Jesus, the Judge is the Word of God, so we know what is going. To happen, you can disagree with the terms of judgment but not the assurance of it.

PART VI | Jesus Restores

Revelation 21:1-4 | 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. 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. 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.” 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. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 

The battle is won, Jesus wins, the field is cleared. In chapter 20 we read the enemy from Gen 3 the serpent, satan is finally and totally defeated. The promise of Gen 3 that the serpents head is crushed has come to pass. No longer war time but peace true peace where rebuilding and restoration is now worth it as it will never and can never be undone. The image is one of new, new in the best sense of the word.New heaven and new earth. This is a new creation going back to the first creation, but one no longer tainted with Sin. The beginning of the Story is retold at the end with a new eternity and future.

Old is gone – this is passing away. What we build here and what we do here is not in vain but it is also not eternal. It is good that some of the old is gone because it is corruptible. It is weak, it is transient. We are working for the flourishing of people now AND to point them to what is eternal in the next chapter.

Sea is no more - This doesn’t mean there is no water or that if you like the grandeur of the ocean we’re all gunna be in New Mexico. It is what is represents that represents…. Darkness and chaos. It was also a place where foreign threats would come from this new place has no threat of invasion. Unpredictable peril.

New Jerusalem-The Story began in a lush garden, descended into a harsh wilderness of sin and despair, was dramatically altered by the death and resurrection of Jesus, “ends” in the splendor of a new forever city. This is the city of the King. Of the temple where God dwells with His people.City means a context not individual but social. As we were created to be! In community with one another. This City is glorious as a bride prepared for her groom. It is a great and glorious city.

God meets with His people. This is a great reunion!! In this sense it is eden restored not because it’s a garden but because the Creator is again with His creation. The Life giver is again sharing life with His people.

God restores His people. in order to restore people things need to be removed. So there is a washing a removal of pain. No more tears! All that drives us to tears cannot be present an has been displaced with joy and intimacy with God. There isn’t even a hit of sin, death disease, or loss that can be experienced. In this place, there will be no more sin or death and God will again dwell with His people in harmony. For sin and death to be no more requires an absence of all that is evil and broken. There are no more threats externally (the sea) or internally (sin) with threats removed there is unencumbered freedom to flourish! Flourish in the way God intended for us from the beginning. There is more good than the absence of bad...

Behold I am making all things new! That is good news because what is old is in decay. There is water for the thirsty. Thirst that drives us in this dry and weary land where there is no water will instead be filled with water that quenches and is without price because it’s water of life purchased by Jesus Blood on the cross.

PART VII | Jesus Renews Life | Revelation 22:1-5

Rev 22:1-5| 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; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

The City is not a garden but it is an image of eden restored. God had prepared a garden for His people they did not cultivate now he has prepared a city they didn’t build. After tears, sin, death are removed there is a an access that is renewed. Access again to the what? The tree of life!! On either side of the River you will have access to life that come from God and lead to joy.

Twelve kinds of fruit. Diversity in the creation and what we will enjoy in the new heavens and new earth. Each month season of renewal and distinct enjoyment. Just when you’re beginning to tire of one type of fruit/food an other season will roll around and delight will be stirred anew.

The war is over. The nations are healed in that they are rightly aligned under the kingdom so members of every tribe tongue nation are represented in this new kingdom not defined by “language, borders, and culture, but diversity in unity around Jesus.There is healing in the worship of Jesus.

The curse is lifted! No more toil only purposeful work. We are no longer slaves to sin but servants of the King. We can produce and actively engage with cultivation of the new Heavens and Earth free from worry of the curse of leading to decay. The effects of sin that cause us shame are gone, and separation is over.

We will see His face! – We’ve been separated from God and there is a reunion will be face to face with the God who created you!!!. That is the central image in the new Heavens and New earth. God’s people, who have been separated from Him by sin, are part of a joyful reunion. This is the ultimate realization of the grace we receive in from God in The Story, we are finally brought home to be with Him.

We Respond | Revelation 22:20-21

Revelation 22:20-21 | 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

The last words of the book bring us back to our chapter of the story of the continued struggle of waiting for Jesus return. So how are we going to respond in the interim? We worship Jesus now practicing for the next chapter. We do not despair in this chapter because we know it’s not the last chapter. We have hope now and are on mission until He returns. We are sojourners and ambassadors whose citizenship is in Heaven and won’t be fully content until we arrive at home with God. Enjoy the journey but long for something better. This is faith, looking forward to something better. Not just hoping on a wing and a prayer but on the promises of God. We will enjoy now because this is God’s portion for us now. We will hope for more and the future because it has been promised to us in Jesus.

The end of The Story is the beginning of an exponentially greater story that never ends and always gets better. This chapter is already written, but we haven’t experienced it….yet. As we patiently wait for our hope to be realized, we remember what God has done yesterday, worship God today, rest in His return in a new tomorrow and keep telling all who will listen…..The Story of Jesus. In Jesus, The Story of His life is our obedience, His death is our sacrifice, His resurrection is our new life, His return is our hope. So until He returns, we will Trust Jesus.

More in The Story

April 30, 2017

The Story | Ch 12 - His Return

April 23, 2017

The Story | Ch. 11 - His Church

April 16, 2017

The Story | Ch. 10 - His Resurrection