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Heaven is Intersecting Earth: A Sermon on Heaven

Joe and I tag teamed this message. Basically I tried to summarize the entire story of what God has been up to through the biblical narrative and how all along he has been bringing heaven to earth. Joe used different themes in the story about heaven and helped bring them a little closer to home. So here is my section.

After the downer of a week last week we thought we would end the month on much more of an uplifting note: heaven. There is really no point in figuring out what to avoid if we are paying no attention to what we are aiming towards. This is actually a message I’m more passionate about than the first one. I love diving into the deep waters of hell and teasing out ideas and trying to understand what is really going on, but there is nothing more exciting than what is coming down the pipes in terms of God’s plan for creation. So basically what I’m going to do this morning is show you that through the entire story of the Bible, God has had a plan and he has been bringing it to fruition in all sorts of different ways. Our job right now is to look through history and the present and point out where God is moving and where his plan is in action and join with him in accomplishing it.

We get a lot of our ideas about heaven from Jesus himself. He was always talking about the Kingdom of God in the synoptics and the Kingdom of Heaven in John. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the Kingdom of Heaven in the parable series, but we did learn quite a few things. We learned that it is a present and future reality. We learned that it is moving all by itself. We learned that it is extremely exciting to find. We learned that it was very intertwined with it’s opposing kingdom. We learned that it spreads like wild fire from something as small as a mustard seed. There is lots of characteristics of the kingdom of God that we have discovered. However, something that we did not focus on that much is how Jesus’ life and ministry here on this earth was part of a larger plan of something that God was doing.

Jesus had a very specific role and place in history and fulfilled many things that to bring a nice finish to different parts of the story in the Bible. To start though, we shouldn’t start with Jesus, we should probably go back to Gen 1. Right at the beginning we have the beginning of the story: creation. Paul helps frame it for us in Colossians 1.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

The first chapters of the Bible are all about creation. We spent 8 months in Genesis, so I won’t spend much time on them now, but you know the drill. God created the earth, he created humans and he created animals and all things. God created humans to be in relationship with him and subdue and rule the world. They knew a intimacy with God as they walked together in the garden. Everything they wanted was theirs at their fingertips. This is how our story starts. It starts in Genesis 1, in a garden, with no clothes, and in harmonious relationship with each other, God and the earth. We will call this creation. The beginning. The starting point.

Then next in the story we have the fall. This is when humanity chose to go in its own direction, and depend on themselves for purpose and decisions. Blessing became a curse. When this began humanity started to fall apart. They started to kill each other and hurt each other and only think of themselves. We watch over 7 chapters the downwards spiral of sin and violence with Cain killing Abel, Lamech threatens retribution that is beyond ridiculous and then God sends a flood to try to put a stop to it. We see God trying to start with a “new Adam” with Noah, but this Adam has sin in his heart also and we see another downward cycle to the tower of babel. Most likely the biggest problem is the severence of their relationship with God. Things changed. They weren’t how they used to be. The order of creation had shifted. God created things in a very specific order and humans decided they didn’t like that order and wanted to be at the top of the list: like gods as the serpent puts it. We will call this the fall. The separation. Being out of order.

Up until this point, the first twelve chapters point to creation as a whole. All of humanity is included. Then enters Abraham into the story in Genesis 12. With Abraham, it’s like God is trying to start all over again. He pulls Abraham out of the life he was living and sets him apart, as something new, to bring about his plan to redeem the world. God says he is going to bless Abraham so that Abraham will be a blessing to all the nations around him. Let’s be clear about this. The point of Abraham being blessed is so that he would bless the other nations. This was God’s way of reconnecting back with his creation. This was God’s plan. He was going to use this man, to start a nation and this nation would be responsible for making right the relationship that was lost with God in the fall. There was a lot on this nation. It was starting to look like the problem of being separate from God finally had a solution ahead. God from this point on throughout the Hebrew scriptures centers his plan on Abraham and his descendants, the nation of Israel. It is important to understand how God is moving along consistently in the same direction here; we can see this by looking at the connections with Israel and Adam.

  • Blessing (Gen 1:28)
  • Reproductive Fruitfulness as a command
  • Humans to have dominion over creation
  • Ruling over the beasts of the earth
  • Adam created outside of Eden and brought in by Yahweh
  • Adam was to fill earth and subdue animals
  • Obedient Adam will enjoy blessing
  • gave Adam a command not to eat from tree
  • Adam disobeys and brings divine judgment and curse from the Lord
  • Adam expelled from Eden for not keeping the command
  • Blessing Gen 12:2
  • Reproductive Fruitfulness as a Blessing
  • Descendants would possess gates of their enemies
  • Israel ruling over the beasts of the earth
  • Israel created outside of of the land and brought in by Yahweh
  • Israel was to fill land and subdue enemies
  • Obedient Israel will enjoy blessing
  • god gave commands via moses
  • Israel disobeys and incurs divine judgment and curse from prophets
  • Israel expelled from promise land for not keeping the Torah

These are just the connections in the Old Testament. This could be easier fleshed out if we pulled in Paul’s letters or some of the beliefs of those in Jesus’ times. However, the connections that Israel has been given the role of Adam obvious. We could take this to the next step and say that not only is Israel is the new Adam, but Canaan is the new Eden. There are numerous parallels between the language here also. From walking to and fro in both Eden and in the sanctuary, the cherubim guard both the tree of life in Eden and the holy of holies in the sanctuary, Eden and the Sanctuary are entered from the East, the temple was decorated like a garden, Adam was to till and keep the garden and the priests were to till and keep the sanctuary, a river flowed from Eden just as Israel’s visionaries saw a river flowing from Jerusalem. The list is actually quite monstrous, especially for the little we actually know about Eden. The connection is clear. Israel is the new Adam.

“The Eden story was shaped to prefigure Israel’s own story. however, in the canonical context this is reversed, so that Israel’s story becomes a retelling of Adam and Eve’s story. Humanity, in Adam, lost the blessing, but Israel, in Abraham, is the vehicle through which God restores it. Adam and Eve’s expulsion finds its echo in Israel’s exile, and, as we shall see, Israel’s return foreshadows and precipitates humanities restoration.”
– Gregory Macdonald

So as you can see, there is some order to what is happening here. God is up to something. God is trying to bring back the blessings of Gen 1 back to all of humanity. Abraham is God’s way of dealing with the problem of all the nations, not just Israel. Remember, the promise was that their blessing was to be passed on to bless all the nations. This promise is repeated four more times in Genesis alone! Here is some good verses on Israel’s mission to the entire world and being for the sake of the entire world.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him

and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.”

This is what God the LORD says-
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,

to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Another interesting note, is that justice is obviously seen as a positive thing in these verses which sort of links us back to last week on judgment being about settings things right to where they should be. So Israel according to this verse is supposed to be establishing justice on earth, their laws will have hope put in them, Israel will be a covenant for all people and they will be a light for all gentiles. So, a lot of pressure is put on Israel. We’ll leave it at that shall we.

Like I pointed out above in the table, Israel fell short like Adam did. Israel did not keep the law, she was cursed. The plan wasn’t working. Israel goes through exile. They become a nation that fights wars and deals weapons and kills children. In other words, they become like every other nation. The very people that God set apart to be his representative on earth to bless the nations started to oppress them instead. Israel began to get in the way of God’s blessing rather than become the administrators of it.

“The Old Testament, when read as a whole, sees Yahweh’s plan as the salvation of all the nations through Israel, his new humanity. Israel herself actually ends up as part of the problem rather than the solution, but God sens his servant-Israel in order to enable her to fulfill her mission to the nations.”
-Gregory Macdonald

So what do we do? The only way out of this predicament is if God restores Israel. Well good news. He did.

As we start to see the story of Jesus unfold we see that it very closely linked into that of the story of Israel. The early Christian thought of Jesus as the one who fulfilled the story of Israel. I remember when I first discovered this and it was a major ah ha moment for me at Tyndale. I had been going to Tyndale for one semester and my first class back after Christmas was New Testament with Stephen Thompson. He started by asking a question about what was Jesus all about. People gave him all sorts of answers. To take the sin of the world, a good example, to die so we didn’t have to and the list went on. He said “wrong, he was all about the Kingdom of God.” I was confused. I had no idea what he meant. And then he started on his two hour lecture.This first class changed the entire way that I looked at the Bible because all of sudden he made a connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament for me and made it about one common story about God who was trying to accomplish a purpose with his kingdom. He took the Bible from being chopped up stories of random good things to teach your children and tied it all in together and showed how God was bringing about Eden again (or the kingdom of God).

Jesus isn’t just a random throw in story, but the entire Hebrew Scriptures were leading up to this event. We looked at Adam, and how Israel embodied Adam’s story. Now though, with Israel failing, Jesus steps in and embodies Israel’s story. Jesus is baptized and goes into the wilderness for forty days before crossing the Jordan into Israel to begin his mission. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Israel also went into the dessert for forty years before crossing the Jordan into Canaan. Jesus had twelve disciples and Israel had twelve tribes. However, we can already see from the very first tests that Jesus succeeds where Israel failed in the desert.

“Because the Messiah represents Israel, he is able to take on himself Israel’s curse and exhaust it…The crucifixion of the Messiah is, one might say, the quintessence of the curse of exile, and its climatic act…He is Israel going down to death under the curse of the law, and going through that curse to new covenant life beyond.”
– NT Wright

“In Christ’s death and resurrection Israel’s exile reaches its climax and Israel is restored (the new exodus occurs)….The blessing of Abraham that God had always intended to be mediated to the world through Israel was now set loose in Christ.”
-Gregory Macdonald

So basically here is what happened.

Humans Created>Humans Fell>Israel Created>Israel Fell>Jesus Created>Jesus Dies>Jesus Resurrected>Israel Returns from Exile>Humans are reconciled

Do you see How Jesus is at the climax of this equation? There is a progression and a goal and it is accomplished in Jesus. When it hits Jesus’ death and resurrection, the entire story gets reversed and we are brought back to our original intended goal and state with God. Paul explains it better than I can in Romans 5.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned- for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 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.

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do you see how everything is reversed? Many died, condemnation, death, condemnation to all people, all were made sinful because of one. Then, on walks Jesus on to the scene and the language changes to grace, justification, life and righteousness. Jesus acts of righteous obedience to the call of Israel completely reversed the results of Adam’s acts of disobedience in Eden.

Really we can insert all sorts of things of Christian history into this equation. If we looked at Noah and inserted him into this equation he would land before Jesus in the creation and fall part. If we inserted the church we would insert him after Jesus in the reconciliation part. The church is part of the reconciliation process and exists as living proof as a restored Israel, a restored humanity. Then we can jump ahead to Revelation and finally it seems John sees a vision for what God has always intended.

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.
Rev 21:3

This is what he was always going for wasn’t it? This was the language with Adam, with Israel, with the Holy Spirit and now with the New Jerusalem coming to earth. This is God’s plan, to have all men reconciled to himself. To bring us back to Eden where we are in right relationship with God, each other and the earth. This is where God is aiming towards. This is the end of the story. This is what our relational God is longing for through the entire story. This gives us hope for today that not all is lost, but we serve a good God who reconciles things to himself.

This is where God is aiming towards. This is the end of the story. This is what our relational God is longing for through the entire story. So this is what it looks like. Paul, I think summarizes the entire story beautifully in Colossians, so I thought we would end today by reading this poem that he wrote.

Colossians 1:15-20
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Joe and I tag teamed this message. Basically I tried to summarize the entire story of what God has been up to through the biblical narrative and how all along he has been bringing heaven to earth. Joe used different themes in the story about heaven and helped bring them a little closer to home. So here is my section.

After the downer of a week last week we thought we would end the month on much more of an uplifting note: heaven. There is really no point in figuring out what to avoid if we are paying no attention to what we are aiming towards. This is actually a message I’m more passionate about than the first one. I love diving into the deep waters of hell and teasing out ideas and trying to understand what is really going on, but there is nothing more exciting than what is coming down the pipes in terms of God’s plan for creation. So basically what I’m going to do this morning is show you that through the entire story of the Bible, God has had a plan and he has been bringing it to fruition in all sorts of different ways. Our job right now is to look through history and the present and point out where God is moving and where his plan is in action and join with him in accomplishing it.
We get a lot of our ideas about heaven from Jesus himself. He was always talking about the Kingdom of God in the synoptics and the Kingdom of Heaven in John. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the Kingdom of Heaven in the parable series, but we did learn quite a few things. We learned that it is a present and future reality. We learned that it is moving all by itself. We learned that it is extremely exciting to find. We learned that it was very intertwined with it’s opposing kingdom. We learned that it spreads like wild fire from something as small as a mustard seed. There is lots of characteristics of the kingdom of God that we have discovered. However, something that we did not focus on that much is how Jesus’ life and ministry here on this earth was part of a larger plan of something that God was doing.
Jesus had a very specific role and place in history and fulfilled many things that to bring a nice finish to different parts of the story in the Bible. To start though, we shouldn’t start with Jesus, we should probably go back to Gen 1. Right at the beginning we have the beginning of the story: creation. Paul helps frame it for us in Colossians 1.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

The first chapters of the Bible are all about creation. We spent 8 months in Genesis, so I won’t spend much time on them now, but you know the drill. God created the earth, he created humans and he created animals and all things. God created humans to be in relationship with him and subdue and rule the world. They knew a intimacy with God as they walked together in the garden. Everything they wanted was theirs at their fingertips. This is how our story starts. It starts in Genesis 1, in a garden, with no clothes, and in harmonious relationship with each other, God and the earth. We will call this creation. The beginning. The starting point.
Then next in the story we have the fall. This is when humanity chose to go in its own direction, and depend on themselves for purpose and decisions. Blessing became a curse. When this began humanity started to fall apart. They started to kill each other and hurt each other and only think of themselves. We watch over 7 chapters the downwards spiral of sin and violence with Cain killing Abel, Lamech threatens retribution that is beyond ridiculous and then God sends a flood to try to put a stop to it. We see God trying to start with a “new Adam” with Noah, but this Adam has sin in his heart also and we see another downward cycle to the tower of babel. Most likely the biggest problem is the severence of their relationship with God. Things changed. They weren’t how they used to be. The order of creation had shifted. God created things in a very specific order and humans decided they didn’t like that order and wanted to be at the top of the list: like gods as the serpent puts it. We will call this the fall. The separation. Being out of order.
Up until this point, the first twelve chapters point to creation as a whole. All of humanity is included. Then enters Abraham into the story in Genesis 12. With Abraham, it’s like God is trying to start all over again. He pulls Abraham out of the life he was living and sets him apart, as something new, to bring about his plan to redeem the world. God says he is going to bless Abraham so that Abraham will be a blessing to all the nations around him. Let’s be clear about this. The point of Abraham being blessed is so that he would bless the other nations. This was God’s way of reconnecting back with his creation. This was God’s plan. He was going to use this man, to start a nation and this nation would be responsible for making right the relationship that was lost with God in the fall. There was a lot on this nation. It was starting to look like the problem of being separate from God finally had a solution ahead. God from this point on throughout the Hebrew scriptures centers his plan on Abraham and his descendants, the nation of Israel. It is important to understand how God is moving along consistently in the same direction here; we can see this by looking at the connections with Israel and Adam.

jjj

  • Blessing (Gen 1:28)
  • Reproductive Fruitfulness as a command
  • Humans to have dominion over creation
  • Ruling over the beasts of the earth
  • Adam created outside of Eden and brought in by Yahweh
  • Adam was to fill earth and subdue animals
  • Obedient Adam will enjoy blessing
  • gave Adam a command not to eat from tree
  • Adam disobeys and brings divine judgment and curse from the Lord
  • Adam expelled from Eden for not keeping the command
  • Blessing Gen 12:2
  • Reproductive Fruitfulness as a Blessing
  • Descendants would possess gates of their enemies
  • Israel ruling over the beasts of the earth
  • Israel created outside of of the land and brought in by Yahweh
  • Israel was to fill land and subdue enemies
  • Obedient Israel will enjoy blessing
  • god gave commands via moses
  • Israel disobeys and incurs divine judgment and curse from prophets
  • Israel expelled from promise land for not keeping the Torah

These are just the connections in the Old Testament. This could be easier fleshed out if we pulled in Paul’s letters or some of the beliefs of those in Jesus’ times. However, the connections that Israel has been given the role of Adam obvious. We could take this to the next step and say that not only is Israel is the new Adam, but Canaan is the new Eden. There are numerous parallels between the language here also. From walking to and fro in both Eden and in the sanctuary, the cherubim guard both the tree of life in Eden and the holy of holies in the sanctuary, Eden and the Sanctuary are entered from the East, the temple was decorated like a garden, Adam was to till and keep the garden and the priests were to till and keep the sanctuary, a river flowed from Eden just as Israel’s visionaries saw a river flowing from Jerusalem. The list is actually quite monstrous, especially for the little we actually know about Eden. The connection is clear. Israel is the new Adam.

“The Eden story was shaped to prefigure Israel’s own story. however, in the canonical context this is reversed, so that Israel’s story becomes a retelling of Adam and Eve’s story. Humanity, in Adam, lost the blessing, but Israel, in Abraham, is the vehicle through which God restores it. Adam and Eve’s expulsion finds its echo in Israel’s exile, and, as we shall see, Israel’s return foreshadows and precipitates humanities restoration.”
– Gregory Macdonald

So as you can see, there is some order to what is happening here. God is up to something. God is trying to bring back the blessings of Gen 1 back to all of humanity. Abraham is God’s way of dealing with the problem of all the nations, not just Israel. Remember, the promise was that their blessing was to be passed on to bless all the nations. This promise is repeated four more times in Genesis alone! Here is some good verses on Israel’s mission to the entire world and being for the sake of the entire world.

1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.

2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.

3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.”

5 This is what God the LORD says-
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:

6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,

7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Another interesting note, is that justice is obviously seen as a positive thing in these verses which sort of links us back to last week on judgment being about settings things right to where they should be. So Israel according to this verse is supposed to be establishing justice on earth, their laws will have hope put in them, Israel will be a covenant for all people and they will be a light for all gentiles. So, a lot of pressure is put on Israel. We’ll leave it at that shall we.
Like I pointed out above in the table, Israel fell short like Adam did. Israel did not keep the law, she was cursed. The plan wasn’t working. Israel goes through exile. They become a nation that fights wars and deals weapons and kills children. In other words, they become like every other nation. The very people that God set apart to be his representative on earth to bless the nations started to oppress them instead. Israel began to get in the way of God’s blessing rather than become the administrators of it.

“The Old Testament, when read as a whole, sees Yahweh’s plan as the salvation of all the nations through Israel, his new humanity. Israel herself actually ends up as part of the problem rather than the solution, but God sens his servant-Israel in order to enable her to fulfill her mission to the nations.”
-Gregory Macdonald

So what do we do? The only way out of this predicament is if God restores Israel. Well good news. He did.
As we start to see the story of Jesus unfold we see that it very closely linked into that of the story of Israel. The early Christian thought of Jesus as the one who fulfilled the story of Israel. I remember when I first discovered this and it was a major ah ha moment for me at Tyndale. I had been going to Tyndale for one semester and my first class back after Christmas was New Testament with Stephen Thompson. He started by asking a question about what was Jesus all about. People gave him all sorts of answers. To take the sin of the world, a good example, to die so we didn’t have to and the list went on. He said “wrong, he was all about the Kingdom of God.” I was confused. I had no idea what he meant. And then he started on his two hour lecture.

This first class changed the entire way that I looked at the Bible because all of sudden he made a connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament for me and made it about one common story about God who was trying to accomplish a purpose with his kingdom. He took the Bible from being chopped up stories of random good things to teach your children and tied it all in together and showed how God was bringing about Eden again (or the kingdom of God).
Jesus isn’t just a random throw in story, but the entire Hebrew Scriptures were leading up to this event. We looked at Adam, and how Israel embodied Adam’s story. Now though, with Israel failing, Jesus steps in and embodies Israel’s story. Jesus is baptized and goes into the wilderness for forty days before crossing the Jordan into Israel to begin his mission. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Israel also went into the dessert for forty years before crossing the Jordan into Canaan. Jesus had twelve disciples and Israel had twelve tribes. However, we can already see from the very first tests that Jesus succeeds where Israel failed in the desert.

“Because the Messiah represents Israel, he is able to take on himself Israel’s curse and exhaust it…The crucifixion of the Messiah is, one might say, the quintessence of the curse of exile, and its climatic act…He is Israel going down to death under the curse of the law, and going through that curse to new covenant life beyond.”
– NT Wright

“In Christ’s death and resurrection Israel’s exile reaches its climax and Israel is restored (the new exodus occurs)….The blessing of Abraham that God had always intended to be mediated to the world through Israel was now set loose in Christ.”
-Gregory Macdonald

So basically here is what happened.

Humans Created>Humans Fell>Israel Created>Israel Fell>Jesus Created>Jesus Dies>Jesus Resurrected>Israel Returns from Exile>Humans are reconciled
Do you see How Jesus is at the climax of this equation? There is a progression and a goal and it is accomplished in Jesus. When it hits Jesus’ death and resurrection, the entire story gets reversed and we are brought back to our original intended goal and state with God. Paul explains it better than I can in Romans 5.

12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned- 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For 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.

18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do you see how everything is reversed? Many died, condemnation, death, condemnation to all people, all were made sinful because of one. Then, on walks Jesus on to the scene and the language changes to grace, justification, life and righteousness. Jesus acts of righteous obedience to the call of Israel completely reversed the results of Adam’s acts of disobedience in Eden.
Really we can insert all sorts of things of Christian history into this equation. If we looked at Noah and inserted him into this equation he would land before Jesus in the creation and fall part. If we inserted the church we would insert him after Jesus in the reconciliation part. The church is part of the reconciliation process and exists as living proof as a restored Israel, a restored humanity. Then we can jump ahead to Revelation and finally it seems John sees a vision for what God has always intended.

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.
Rev 21:3

This is what he was always going for wasn’t it? This was the language with Adam, with Israel, with the Holy Spirit and now with the New Jerusalem coming to earth. This is God’s plan, to have all men reconciled to himself. To bring us back to Eden where we are in right relationship with God, each other and the earth. This is where God is aiming towards. This is the end of the story. This is what our relational God is longing for through the entire story. This gives us hope for today that not all is lost, but we serve a good God who reconciles things to himself.

This is where God is aiming towards. This is the end of the story. This is what our relational God is longing for through the entire story. So this is what it looks like. Paul, I think summarizes the entire story beautifully in Colossians, so I thought we would end today by reading this poem that he wrote.

Colossians 1:15-20
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

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