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For me, to sum up what the Bible is about, from Genesis to Revelation, I would have to say creation, destruction and restoration.

In Genesis  chapter one, God  creates the universe in six days.  At the end of each day he pronounces creationthat what he had created that day as good, beautiful, perfect.  On the sixth day he created male and female in his image and declares that act of  creation as Very Good.  In chapter two we read that he created a garden with beautiful trees laden with fruit.  Thus we have an incredibly beautiful creation of God, intended for mankind to enjoy.

Unfortunately it ends all too soon. In chapter three of Genesis, destruction happens.  Adam and Eve disobey the only command God gives them.  They eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  That knowledge destroys their intimate relationship with the Almighty Creator.  It destroys their relationship with each other.  The eating, the disobedience, destroys their relationship with the earth and all that is within it.  They receive the Curse of God, and are denied the perfect creation of God.  They are expelled from the garden.

Much of the Old Testament gives us an account of more destruction.  Cain destroys his brother Able.destruction2  God destroys the earth with the great flood.  Armies destroy armies.  Nations destroy nations.  Kingdoms are wiped out.  It’s all bad.  Almost.

God did not leave humanity without hope.  Even as he pronounced curses on Adam and Eve, he slips in a promise of restoration.  Something to look forward to.  He promises that one day the Seed of Woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

God began the slow, but sure promise of restoration by choosing one man, Abraham, to be the father of a great nation.  He chose an enslaved nation to escape their slave masters and become a powerful, godly nation.  He revealed himself, his will and his laws to them.  He chose David, the shepherd boy, a man after His own heart, to be king over this nation.  These acts were bits and pieces of restoration that pointed to a time when a full restoration would take place.

They pointed to the advents of Jesus.  His first and second comings that the prophets wrote about.  His birth in a manger, death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb; the first advent when God emptied himself, humbled himself and the Word became flesh.  Before ascending to his place of power in heaven, he promised he would return one day to fulfill the scriptures promise of a full restoration.

Right now we live in the Already, But Not Yet.  When Jesus came the first time he lived a perfect life, yet died on the cross bearing the sins of humanity that had been living destroyed, sin-filled lives and He suffered the wrath of God for those sins.  Thus he cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”

When he rose from the dead, Ephesians chapter two tells us that those who believe in him and the work he accomplished on our behalf on the cross, were also raised to Life, meaning we now live spiritual lives in right relationship with God the Father.  Paul writes that all who place their trust in Jesus are justified, which means our sins are forgiven; God adopts us as his children, and sees us “just as if we had never sinned.” Not only that, but the same chapter of Ephesians tells us as Christ rose to take his place of power in the heavenly realms, we also are seated with Him in the heavenly realms.  An incredible act of restoration took place.

When we look at our lives we can clearly see that we are not in heaven and that we continue to sin restorationeveryday.  So what gives?  What kind of restoration is that?  That is where the “Already, But Not Yet” comes in to play.  While our lives are incredibly better in Christ, they are not perfect.  While we experience more joy and peace than ever before, we continue to struggle with times of conflict and sadness.  That is the “Already” life.  The “Not Yet” restoration fullness will take place at the end of the age when Jesus returns to set up his restored kingdom, which, according to the last couple chapters of the Bible, look a lot like the first couple chapters of the Bible.  It’s a perfect creation where there is no more sin and suffering; where there is a River of Life and fruit trees.  It’s a place where destruction is a thing of the past and everyone lives in love and unity with each other and God.

So there it is.  The story of the greatest book ever written, the Bible, summed up in three words – Creation, Destruction and Restoration.

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restoration quote

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We all have times in our lives when we are really looking forward to some special event.  Maybe a wedding, the birth of a child, a graduation, promotion, or a vacation.  My youngest daughter, Kelly, will be three in June.  She is really looking forward to her birthday!  Her sister had a birthday in March, complete with cupcakes and pizza and a trip to Boing-Boing, a children’s play land in Oaxaca city, here in Mexico.  Her sister Sally received many gifts and Kelly cried because she received none.  We consoled her by telling her that her birthday was coming up, and then she would be the one receiving the gifts.  Since then, a few of her little friends have had birthdays, complete with all the trimmings and gifts, and Kelly knew that she just had to wait for her special day to arrive.  She is really looking forward to that day.  On any given day she can be heard singing “happy birthday” and eating pretend birthday cake and swinging a stick at imaginary pinatas.
How about you and me?  Is there anything that we are looking forward to that much?  According to St. Peter, there is a day coming that should excite us more than all the birthdays, holidays and vacations combined.  It’s called the “Day of the Lord”.

Peter writes about this Day in the last chapter of his second book.  This “Day of the Lord” is characterized by two things: one, the destruction of the heavens and the earth, and two, a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  I think this is what Peter was really looking forward to.  In chapter two Peter describes some nasty stuff in this present world to indicate that this place is definitely not the home of righteousness.  He writes about false prophets, false teachers, destructive heresies, denying the Lord, depraved conduct, greed, exploitation, lawlessness, unrighteousness, corrupt desires of the flesh, arrogance, blasphemy, doing harm, carousing, adulterers, seducers, sinners, lovers of the wages of wickedness, lustful desires of the flesh, slaves of depravity, and people who turn their backs on God.  What a wretched stew pot this world is.  No wonder Peter says three times that he is looking forward to the destruction of this world, and the creation of a new world which will be the home of righteousness.

Me too!  I not only long to be free of the wickedness of this world, but the wickedness in me.  I know that if I look closely at my life, I can see elements in me, in my soul, of every thing Peter mentions, in my very being, and I hate it; I hate the struggle I face everyday against the world, my flesh, and the devil.  I hate it when I see on the news, or read in the paper’s of people being murdered, children being abused, the poor being taken advantage of.  I hate it when I see children with birth defects, when I hear of people dying of cancer, when I learn of loved ones suffering.

So what is God waiting for?  The world  of Noah was wicked, and God destroyed it by water.  Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked cities and God destroyed them by fire and brimstone.   The first century world and our world are full of evil, why doesn’t God go ahead and do it in?  Get it over with?

Peter answers that question in chapter three.  He tells his  readers that “the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  This verse, and the idea behind it, remind me of Paul and the  Corinthians.  Acts 18 tells us the story.  Paul went to Corinth and was preaching and teaching his heart out, giving his all to the people in the city, and what happens?  Verse six says that some Jews opposed Paul and became abusive.  I can just hear Paul screaming out in frustration, “That’s the thanks I get?!  I’m outta here!”    That night God speaks to him in a vision.  The Lord said, “Keep on speaking, do not be silent.  I  am with you and I have many people in this city.”  God is telling Paul to be patient, continue on with his good work, because God had “many people” that He had chosen  for  salvation in the city of Corinth.  Most of them had not heard the Good News of salvation, of God’s love and mercy.  They didn’t know that  God loved them and wanted them to be happy.

God says the same thing to His followers in this wicked world.  This is  not your home, you are just a passin’ thru.  You are strangers and aliens in a foreign land.  I know you long to go home and be with me forever in the perfect land of righteousness, but just wait a bit.  There are a lot of people that  I have chosen (Peter’s first letter is  addressed to the elect, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father; 1:1,2), that are the elect, that have not yet heard the message that the  Kingdom of God is near; that it is accessible to them, and that they have received a royal invitation from the King of Kings to be a part of  it.  It is your job to get the  message out, give the invitations, spread joy and grace and compassion to all around.  And then one day, the  work will be complete, and all my followers will come home.  What a day of rejoicing that will be!

One day this world as we know it will be utterly destroyed by fire, according to Peter.  A new world, the home of God and righteousness and all that is good and lovely, whole and just, peaceful and complete, will replace this bad old place, and I am really looking forward to going home.  How about you?

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Our present purpose is inseparable from God’s stated eternal purpose for us to rule the  earth forever as his children and heirs.  That is at the core of  the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s defining statement:”Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  We will glorify God and  find joy in him as we do what he has made us to do,” serve him as resurrected beings and carry out his plan for developing a Christ centered, resurrected culture in a resurrected universe.”       Randy Alcorn in his book Heaven

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Next blog – The Ruler and the Shepherd