We named our daughter for that garden paradise where we once walked blamelessly and blissfully with our Maker and for the hope of returning to a garden city where we will do the same forevermore. Eden. One of my Old Testament professors in seminary wrote a book entitled The Epic of Eden. Her premise was that God’s entire plot in The Great Story of scripture is to get Adam and Eve back into the Garden – the people of God in the place of God with the presence of God. She taught us to read every sub-story of scripture with these things in mind, looking for the people, the place, and the presence. We are finally approaching the resolution of The Great Story we began a year ago. The Story began with creation. One eternal God made everything out of nothing, and He made it all good! Through the ups and downs of rebellion and brokenness, redemption and promise, through the stories of nomads, slaves, prophets, kings, disciples, and saints, we see that the Creator never stops creating and recreating, making something out of nothing and something whole out of something that’s been made a mess. Revelation 21 and 22 may be my two favorite chapters of scripture (although it is always hard for me to say for sure). They are the picture of God’s final act of recreation – all things made new. This time when He sits down, like He did on day seven in Genesis 1, He will sit down for good. Everything that comes after that will flow from the growing reproductive love and work (yes work, fun work!) of a perfect Kingdom, new heaven and new earth finally in the same reality – the people of God in the place of God with the presence of God, with everything as it should be, forevermore. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
Devotional thoughts to ponder:
- In ancient religion, temples were the place where the image of the deity could be found. If you wanted to worship Artemis, for example, you would go to the Temple of Artemis. Israel’s God was also worshiped in a Temple, but He was very clear there were to be NO images! Read 21:22. What is different? Can you think of ways we have already started leaning into this new reality?
- Read Genesis 2:8-17 and then Revelation 22:1-5. How are these two scenes similar? How are they different?
- How is Christmas a celebration of the arrival of new things and the passing away of old things?
- Is there anything you want “made new” going into a new year of life? What would it take for you to trust God in this area and go into this New Year with gratitude for a new year of opportunity and faith that God can do new things?
- Is there a new habit (not a resolution; a habit or a practice) you could cultivate that would give God more of a chance to make you new?