I don’t know about you but I have a problem finishing books. Not so much novels, but my Christian Living and Theology books. I have a hard time reading those cover to cover. Typically, I’ll start reading a book, get really excited about it, and then after a 100 or so pages that excitement begins to wane, my focus turns somewhere else, and that book ends up next to my chair in the “currently reading” pile. My “currently reading” pile isn’t really a currently reading pile because it’s currently about 10 books high. And some of those books have been in the pile, I kid you not, for over a year. Now, eventually, a question will arise and I’ll get back to that book. I might finish it, but that’s not always the case.
My other pastor friends and ministry leaders I follow assure me that’s not a problem. They argue that books are tools and not all books are meant to be read cover to cover. You use them for what you need at the time, then pick them up later when they’re needed for another task, just like any other tool in your toolbox out in the shed. I like that analogy. I not only think it’s a helpful way to think of books in that genre, but it makes me feel better because that pile by my chair isn’t getting any smaller.
While it can be hard for me to finish those books, one book and story that will eventually come to an end whether we get back to it or not is the biblical story. There is no stopping time. It keeps marching forward, which means God’s story will eventually come to an end. Thankfully, we have the Bible, which gives us a sneak peek, a spoiler, if you will, of how God’s restoration project will end.
How does God’s story end?
Revelation 21 and 22 are the last two chapters of the Bible. Combined they tell us how God’s story will end.
God’s people live in a perfect world
Looking at those two chapters, one of the first things you see is that God’s story ends with God’s people living in a perfect world (1-3; 5). Unless you live under a rock, you know the world in which currently live isn’t perfect. All you have to do is turn on the news or open the newspaper to figure that out. Recently, I visited the Wise County Messenger’s website, which is my local paper. Apart from documenting the rainfall and some of the basketball games the night before, two of the headline stories that ran for the day read: “Sex offender given life sentence.” “Driver crashes into tree.” Even in small town Decatur, the news tells us that we don’t live in a perfect world.
We desire a perfect world
That, however, doesn’t mean we don’t want to live in a perfect world. If we are honest with ourselves, we all long to live in a perfect world. This longing begins when we are children.
My two sons, Camden and Bryson, are now four and two. For their last birthday, we had a party for them. It was a joint party since they were born in the same month just four days apart. The theme of the party was superheroes. Camden is the one who chose that theme since he’s the one who can articulate what he wants.
While it’s mostly out of fun that he chose a superhero themed birthday party, I believe there is also an underlying truth to explore here. Camden is four. He knows there are bad people in the world. He has learned that from our family Bible reading as well as the cartoons he watches. You know as well as I do as soon as we find out that there are bad people in the world, we long for something to be done to set things right. That’s why kids, and even adults, are drawn to superheroes. We are looking for a fix.
Hopefully, you know by now that fix isn’t going to come through the Man of Steel. No matter how strong Super Man is, he can’t fix this broken world. He can’t provide the Utopia for which we all long.
God can and will fix this broken world
But God can and will. Through the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus, the Father is working to set things right. When Jesus returns, He will defeat Satan and judge the world (Rev. 20:11-15). Once that’s taken place we are told in Revelation 21 that a New Heavens and New Earth will appear.Look at the text starting in verse 1,
“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.”” (Re 21:1–5)
So that longing that begins in us as a kid to live in a perfect world is realized in Jesus. He is the One who makes all things new. He is the One who will make this broken world perfect.
Question for Reflection
- Are you relying on someone or something other than Jesus to fix this broken world? If so, why?
Post developed from my sermon The End of God’s Restoration Project