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The Bible opens with audacity and gusto, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The statement is as terse as it is powerful—God made the universe. This one grandiose proposition undergirds the faith of all Jews, Christians, and Muslims. As God speaks, water separates, land appears, vegetation sprouts, animals multiply, and humans take shape. Five times over, the magnificently crafted creation poem resounds with the refrain, “it was good.” Then, on the sixth day, God surveys all of His work and concludes “it was very good.” The reader of Genesis finds himself compelled to affirm the inherent and primal goodness of the universe. From the shining stars to the flowing seas, all is the product of a brilliant and beneficent Creator who lovingly and powerfully spoke it into existence.

Let us take a moment to consider some of the elements of God’s created order. Where do plants come from? What is a seed? Is it alive or dead? On the one hand, seeds appear to be dead because they can be stored for years in a package and never change a bit; on the other hand, they can begin growing into massive trees just as soon as they are activated. But, how do we unlock the incredible life-producing power of a seed? Do we swallow it, crush it to pieces and form a paste, hang it on an existing plant, or affix it to the skin of an animal? No, the mysterious generative force is unleashed by putting it in dirt. Dirt. We put a semi-dead husk in dirt and sprinkle some water on it—which makes mud—and that somehow transforms an inanimate pod into a growing baby plant. The plant feeds on dirt, water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide—four of the most plenteous and un-endangered resources on the planet—and grows taller, produces leaves, emits oxygen, and brings forth many more seeds. If we take a moment and really ponder this utterly common and mundane process, we cannot help but wonder how bizarre it really is. What is more, God’s ingenious seed idea is incredibly resilient. Plants spring up everywhere, from the spaces between sidewalk slabs to the tiny cracks in asphalt parking lots. If a road is not constantly traveled by cars and repaved every few years, weeds will quietly and steadily spread the asphalt apart, bit by bit, until the way becomes impassible. This is just one aspect of God’s creation, but it teaches us something about the inherent goodness of God’s handiwork. When God says, “let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed” the result is a fantastic panoply of resilient and stunning organisms that continue their cycle of life eon after eon. From massive red woods to little clovers to colorful roses, creation resounds with God’s creative genius.

The book of Genesis places God’s shaping of the human body at the end of His creative activity. Although the Creator makes plants and animals with a mere word, Genesis uses different terms to describe God’s act of making humans. He formed us from the dust and breathed into our nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). These words convey intimacy, as if God bent over and blew our first breath directly into our nostrils. The scene bespeaks the care with which God fashioned humanity. As medicine and technology have improved over the centuries, we have increasingly come to understand just how minutely crafted and magnificently complicated we are. Containing approximately 22 square feet of skin, 206 bones, 25 feet of intestines, 45 miles of nerves, and 100,000 miles of blood vessels, the human body is nothing short of an engineering marvel.

The human body is a masterpiece capable of extraordinary versatility. Humans live all over the globe from icy regions where the snow never melts to the tropical islands where snow has never landed. Our skin provides us with a waterproof barrier against the external world, temperature regulation, and sensory input. Our fingers are capable of both finely-tuned maneuvers like using a mouse as well as feats of strength like swinging a hammer. Our wrists enjoy 160 degrees of motion, enabling our hands to accomplish complex tasks like catching Frisbees and riding motorcycles. The ball and socket joint in our shoulders enables 360 degrees of motion, allowing us to lift objects from the ground over our heads in one fluid motion. Our hearts are exceptional pumps, capable of displacing 2,000 gallons of blood each day without rest. Our stomachs produce hydrochloric acid so powerful that it could literally digest solid metal. Our bipedal design enables marathon runners to traverse great distances and ballerinas to achieve impeccable balance. Our ears pick up sounds from the quiet gurgling of a creek in the distance to the raucous jamming of an indoor rock concert. We are capable of whispering, speaking, yelling, and singing. Having two eyes ensures depth perception and makes available nearly 180 degrees of horizontal vision. Our brains process the sensory input of our skin, the sounds our ears pick up, the visual picture our eyes take in, and the tastes and smells our mouths and noses detect.

We are capable of advanced cognitive functions like language and love, comprehension and compassion, invention and imagination. Humans have produced gripping adventure novels as well as precise legal tomes. We have accomplished architectural feats from the Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper in Dubai more than half mile high, to the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China, spanning more than a hundred miles. We have mastered terrestrial travel via bicycles, automobiles, and trains. We traverse the high seas with sail boats, transport barges, and aircraft carriers. We fly through the air in balloons, helicopters, and jets. We float through space on rockets, shuttles, and space stations. Humans have charted nearly a billion stars, over a million species of animals, and almost half a million plant species. We write books, paint canvasses, play sports, listen to music, invent machines, make love, explore creation, decipher codes, build relationships, and think abstractly. Humans have written nearly 130 million books, composed well over 28 million songs, and produced more than two million movies. We have penetrated the vast distances of empty space with powerful telescopes and peered deep into the world of cells and DNA with electron microscopes. Whatever someone may think of our origin, everyone must admit that humans are remarkable creatures, nearly unlimited in our potential.

One’s understanding of beginning influences one’s belief about the end. For example, consider the Gnostics. They believed that physical creation was a demi-god’s act of cosmic rebellion against the supreme God. The true believers, they said, were indwelt with a spark of the divine that originated from the pleroma beyond this physical universe. The goal in this system was to gain proper knowledge (gnosis) so that one might ascend beyond this realm at death. Thus, the Gnostics believed all of history would come full circle with the annihilation of all matter so that the chosen people could reunite with the spiritual realm. The Bible, however, offers a significantly different storyline. Rather than beginning in heaven, humans originate from the dust of the earth. Rather than the fall happening prior to creation, it happens after creation. This one fact is extremely significant. In the Gnostic scenario, creation itself is the consequence of rebellion, whereas in the biblical narrative, creation is God’s choice. Both systems account for the rampant wickedness and brokenness of our present world, but their ultimate solutions are very different. Whereas the Gnostics seek escape from the corporeal world, the Christian Bible looks forward to a future much like the paradise enjoyed by Adam and Eve prior to the fall. For this reason, the last book of the Bible parallels the first book in that once again we see humans living in paradise on earth, complete with the tree of life and the presence of God—just like it was in the beginning. Between the first and last books of the Bible, we find a winding narrative, involving many significant events whereby God eventually works within His creation to restore it back to its original glory. Isaiah declares, “He established it [i.e. the universe] and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18). God’s design is not to evacuate the planet but to fill it with people. He does not intend for it to become a waste place, but a thriving world teeming with life.

8 Responses to “Renewing the World to Its Original Glory”

  1. on 05 Nov 2013 at 3:44 amRay

    I believe Jesus was raised in a new body which was the same body that had died, though it was raised in a new glory and that he inhabits heaven with it.

    Won’t he inhabit a new earth with it also?
    And where he is, won’t we be also?

  2. on 05 Nov 2013 at 8:56 amJas

    Ray
    At present according to Rev 5 Jesus does still have the same body with even the wounds and is still indwelled by The Holy Spirit. In the Future according to Rev 21 his body seems to be a spiritual one.
    That aside yes he will inhabit the New Earth and my guess is yes you and many many more will be there with Him.

  3. on 05 Nov 2013 at 6:16 pmSarah

    Amen, Sean. So beautifully said. This creation is wondrous indeed, and I for one am glad we get to spend our future living in a renewed version of it. I can’t adequately express how relieved I was to learn that we are not going to spend eternity floating on marshmallowy clouds, strumming harps, and singing “Showers of Blessing” for the 5,325,221st time.

    p.s. Nice graphic, too. Did you design it?

  4. on 06 Nov 2013 at 11:11 amtimothy

    Sean,

    hippity, hip, hoorah !!!

    All inspiring, to speak, your version to others.

  5. on 07 Nov 2013 at 9:21 pmtimothy

    Hi Sarah,

    Check out this LHIM home fellowship:

    Hemmeain Fellowship

    314-609-2909

    littlefonz2001@yahoo.com

    Jacksonville, Florida, USA

    Timothy

  6. on 09 Nov 2013 at 8:49 pmRay

    I take it that the new heaven and earth will be sometime after we arrive in heaven and after the resurrection.

  7. on 30 Nov 2013 at 10:08 amPatricia Byrne

    Thank you Sean for this phenomenal summery!

    The WONDER of it all, stars, sun, earth, moon, sea, mountains, deserts, valleys, rivers, earthquakes, droughts, clouds. rain, storms, lightning, wind, fire, ice, hail ,dew, silver, gold, precious stones, sea monsters, lions, eagles, snakes, locusts, trees, flowers, grass and the miracle of man. AND YET, when we silently wait and gaze in wonder of Gods Creation , the Psalmist asked the troubling question:
    Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, who has set your glory above the heavens!
    When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man, that you think of him? What is the son of man, that you care for him (Psalm 8:1,3,4 WEB)

    …BUT YET……HE does care…HE personally moment by moment, day for day, week for week, year for year, invites us to experience his GREATNESS by asking, seeking, knocking so that we can act upon the great and calming promises :-
    But now thus says Yahweh who created you, Jacob, and he who formed you, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and flame will not scorch you. For I am Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3 WEB)

    my love to your parents & family. Keep up the great work! You are all in our prayers here in Germany.

  8. on 28 Sep 2014 at 7:57 pmEdward

    Sean,

    There are many connections between the Sublime Song of Songs and the first three chapters of Genesis. In the Garden of Eden, the Bible remembers a paradisaical world. It was a world of love, a world of shalom, a world of mutuality, a world lacking shame. The Fall, Genesis 3, reveals that this world of beauty has been vandalized, even raped. The world in which Israel actually lived, that you and I live in, is a post Genesis 3 world. A world full of sub par relationships on every level. The “symphony of love” begun in Eden becomes the “cacophony of abuse” in the Fallen world. But I submit to you that the Song of Songs pictures the redemption of that symphony of love … the Song is God’s call for a return to Eden in the most holy relationship known to humanity – that between a husband and a wife. In the sexual relationship the Song loudly and proudly proclaims Paradise Regained. Even in the Fallen world we can experience Eden in our relationships – that is the vision of the Sublime Song. As we will see the Song does not see the couple as the “first couple” from Genesis. The Song is deeply aware that we live in a Fallen world but it shows the the woman and the man rediscovering Edenic values in even the most intimate area of their relationship. They relish one another.

    In the Song of Songs, though we live in the Fallen world, we have returned to the Garden of Eden. Though in a sinful world Lovers, even after the Fall, can still bask in the beauty of Paradise. The vision of the Song of Songs for our marriage relationship is nothing short of breathtaking.

    So, If Christian hope envisions the fulfillment of all things, then the redemption of our bodies, then genitalia are not somehow exempt.
    The redemption that christian eschatology envisions extends to everything: It does not exclude genitalia. If the communion that God´s love redeems all things, then it redeems sexual life or not?

    The doctrine of the First Things, should illuminate the doctrine of the Last Things, If God found His creation of human beings as male and female very good at the beginning, would He discover it to be not so good at the end?
    Change Implies Imperfection. To say the least, this reasoning is absurd for anyone who believes in God’s omniscience and immutability. It is normal for human beings to introduce new models and structures to eliminate existing deficiencies. For God, however, this would be abnormal and incoherent since He knows the end from the beginning.

    Yes, the Bible says the law is not necessary in Heaven, however, it does not say that we will not still have that union. In fact, I think it’s quite clear we will still have partners in Heaven, but it will be perfect – we will be with the person God intended for us all along, just as Adam and Eve were before the fall. Marriage is a representation of the relationship between Jesus and His bride (the Church), and is a bond where we share God’s love with each other – we will see Christ’s love in each others eyes. I think there will be “marriage” in Heaven as an eternal reminder of Christ’s love for the Church.
    because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. -Hebrews 10:14
    “God is the ultimate Heart Surgeon, and He has never lost a patient.”

    Now, In Heaven do Men and women will enjoy each another in a physical sense?
    Personally, do you believe that we will have penile-vagina intercourse after resurrection?

    i wonder what you thought about it.

  

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