Sometimes Jesus talks about realities that His beloved children don't seem to comprehend.
It's quite common for Him to talk about a realm grander than the imagination. Though
difficult to conceive, we're being invited to somehow re-frame everything in light
of His transforming Kingdom.
Moreover, when Jesus is talking about all these wonderful things He isn't whispering
about a sphere beyond the horizon. Instead He is talking about something that invades
the broken world where we presently reside.
In one pivotal New Testament passage, He declares the following,
"Truly I tell you, at the restoration of creation, when the Son of Man sits on his
glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones".
What Jesus is talking about in this passage is largely unfamiliar and outside the
typical Protestant narrative. What does the Messiah actually mean when He speaks
about the "restoration of creation?" In many ways it is a radically different perspective
from what I heard in Sunday school.
I was guaranteed that all of creation would be annihilated. A darkened day was going
to come when the earth would be devastated in a blaze of fire.
I still recall the crooked smile on the preacher's face when he said that, "This
whole god-forsaken place is going to end up like a pile of ashes." Then the older
saints solemnly sang a verse from the 1779 Hymn "Amazing Grace,"
"The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun forbear to shine; But God, who
called me here below, Will be forever mine."
How could Jesus differ so widely from John Newton and the bastions of Reformed theology? Doesn't
He understand anything about "sound doctrine"? In the past, I didn't think anyone
could articulate a biblical eschatology without affirming that the earth would be
consumed by fire. Yet, Jesus shares a different narrative.
The Messiah isn't recounting a new story in Matthew 19:28, though it may sound like
it. His words were actually informed by an older narrative. He was cognizant of
an ancient account that informed the Patriarchs and Prophets. Sadly, many Evangelicals
have lost sight of this foundational story.
Jesus understood that when the earth was made, it was deemed "very good" (Genesis 1:31a). He was there when His Father made a covenant
with the earth during the time of Noah (Genesis 9:13). As the poets and sages spoke of the earth
as an inheritance for the righteous, Jesus heard and agreed with their inspired
words (Psalm 37:9; 104:5-31; 115:16). Our savior envisioned earth's ultimate
goodness and glory along with the other prophets (Isaiah 11:9; 60:21).
Jesus certainly knew this ancient story and that is why He affirmed the restoration
of creation. He was convinced that darkness and evil would be removed and the beauty
of God's original creation would be brought to bear. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken and all that remains
will be what God originally made.
Contrary to popular religious sentiment, the world is never going to end. It's going
to be redeemed along with those who love Jesus. Now, that is the story that we need
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