"Restoration"

 

In Romans 8: 18 in the New Testament portion of the Bible, the writer of the letter to the Romans, Paul, made an outrageous statement: He says that all human sufferings are "not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8: 18) The human race has experienced unspeakable amounts of suffering throughout history. What can possibly make that seem like nothing? The Great Restoration of all things. Paul then went on to write, "The entire created universe waits in eager expectation for Jesus-believers to be unveiled [when Jesus returns]." (verse 19) The Great Restoration of all things is being more or less held back, waiting upon the restoration of all humanity.

 

Two Basic Principles

 

Two very basic principles must be understood at the very beginning of this teaching. The first is that when humans restore something (such as restoring an antique car), they always attempt to restore the object to its original condition. In reality, humans often restore something to less than its original condition, but even in a lesser condition they consider it restored, nevertheless.

 

The second principle is this: when God restores something, He always restores it to FAR GREATER than its original condition—often up to seven times greater than its original condition! Furthermore, the Bible implies in a few places that God's restoration may sometimes reach even a hundred times greater than the original.

 

This teaching is about God's restoration of everything He created—including human beings. His universal restoration began in the Garden of Eden immediately after our first ancestors fell into sin, and will end when He freshly restores the entire universe and the earth.

 

See Isaiah 65: 17; 66: 22; 2 Peter 3: 13; and Revelation 21: 1 for references about the "new" heaven (universe) and the "new" earth; those are the only four such references in the entire Bible. In the two references in Isaiah, the word "new" is the Hebrew word, "chadash," meaning "something begun again as in the beginning of a new cycle." In the two references in Revelation, the word "new" is the Greek word "kainos," meaning "freshly restored."

 

If you put those meanings together, the words "new heavens" and "new earth" mean a freshly restored universe and earth begun anew by God.

Again, this teaching will be about how God is in the process of restoring his entire creation, until in the end the entire universe and earth will be "freshly restored" and "begun again." In a manner of speaking, God will simply hit the cosmic "reset button" and all things will be freshly renovated and restored.

 

Let's begin with our first parents, Adam and Eve—how God is in the process of restoring them as well as all humanity "in Adam," as the Bible puts it. I have already covered that particular process of restoration in two other teachings on this web site, so I will not write any more about it in this teaching; those other two teachings are: Let There Be Light and Whole In One.

 

We'll look at some Bible references about restoration in general in a few moments, but for now, I want to simply generalize with the following thoughts adapted from the writings of a Jesus-believing brother named John Eldredge:

 

What It'll Be Like

 

"In Jesus' Kingdom and, later, in the freshly restored universe and earth, things are not stained or broken; everything is as it was meant to be in the beginning—and greater. Think about this for a moment. Aren't every one of our sorrows on earth the result of things not being as they were meant to be? And so when Jesus returns and establishes his Kingdom, wonderful things will begin to unfold. 'When He spoke to people about the Kingdom of God, He healed those who needed healing.' (Luke 9: 11)

 

What will happen when we find ourselves in the Kingdom of God? The disabled will jump to their feet and begin dancing. The deaf will go out and purchase stereo equipment. The blind will head to the movies. The dead will not be dead anymore, but very much alive. They'll show up for dinner. In other words, human brokenness in all its forms will be healed. The Kingdom of God will bring restoration. Life will be restored to what it was meant to be. 'In the beginning,' back in Eden, all of creation was pronounced good because all of creation was exactly as God meant for it to be. For it to be 'good' again is not for it to be destroyed, but healed, renewed, brought back to its goodness, fully restored.

 

The few glimpses we see in the miracles of Jesus were the 'first-fruits' of God's restoration of all things. When He announced the full coming of his Kingdom, Jesus said, 'Look, I am freshly restoring all things.' (Revelations 21: 5) He means that everything in the entire created universe that has been so badly broken will be restored—and then some."

 

Restoration In Job, The Oldest Book In The Bible

 

Back to some of the Bible's teaching about God's principles of restoration. I've already mentioned how God will restore Adam and Eve. God also taught some principles of restoration during the time of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and Moses. But I want to look at just a few examples of God's restoration during the times of the kings of Israel and Judah.

 

Of course, many of the prophets who lived during the times of the kings proclaimed God's restoration; we'll get to some of them later. But I actually want to begin with some of God's principles of restoration as found in the oldest book of the Bible, the Book of Job.

 

I hope you remember the story of Job. How God essentially allowed him to be stripped of everything to test and purify his faith and humble him before Almighty God. I won't go into details, but the first 41 chapters of Job address that in full and lengthy detail. Instead, I want to focus on the 42nd chapter of Job where God restores Job.

 

Chapter 42, verse 10 says this: "and the Lord turned [around] the captivity of Job and restored his fortunes, when he [Job] prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." Verse 12 goes on to say: "And the Lord blessed the end of Job's life much more than his early life."

 

Earlier, Job 33: 26b also conveys some very powerful inherent concepts about God restoring righteousness to unrighteous human beings. We read in Isaiah 64: 6 that all human righteousness is just filthy rags; we humans are totally unrighteous. Here in Job we read that God restores all of humanity's righteousness to them. How does He do that? God himself is the only inherently righteous Being (Jeremiah 23: 6); God the Son—Jesus—is also totally righteous (1 Corinthians 1: 30). God—through Jesus—implants his own righteousness in humans, displacing and replacing their unrighteousness. Just those few sentences are a summary of an entire large body of teaching in the Bible.

 

In the time of Moses, Deuteronomy 30, verses 1 – 3 intimate and allude to the same type of restoration if in their future God's people might depart from Him and then return to Him for his restoration. Yes, such principles of God's restoration are taught here and there throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

Restoration In Elisha's Time

 

But now let's turn to one example during the times of Israel's kings.  In 2 Kings chapter 8, Elisha, one of God's prophets, predicted that a seven-year famine would come upon the land. In light of the upcoming famine, God—speaking through Elisha—told a widow, whose son Elisha had raised from the dead by God's power, to go to another land and stay there until the famine ended. She obeyed the prophet and did as he told her to do.

 

At the end of the seven-year famine, the woman returned to her homeland and went to the king to appeal to have her original land restored to her. The king had the woman's claims checked out in the court records and, sure enough, she did have a prior legal claim to the land which had previously been hers. The king decreed not only to restore her land, but for her to receive the income from the land from the previous seven years.

 

In Job, we saw that God restored to Job double what he had previously owned. Now in 2 Kings we find that God restored to the woman seven times what she previously possessed. Those are timeless principles of God's restoration. He often restores from two to seven times what a person had previously lost! He did that in those days, and He is still practicing those principles of restoration in our time. His restoration is always more and greater than the original condition or situation.

 

Other Restoration In The Bible

 

Here's another example from the time of Israel's kings along with a parallel example from the New Testament in the life of Jesus.  Turn to 2 Samuel 12: 6. It's about an incident in the life of King David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba; Nathan the prophet was confronting David about his adultery by telling the fictitious story of a sin committed by another man. David responded to Nathan's story by exclaiming that that the man Nathan spoke of should restore fourfold what the man had stolen from another person in the story. David then understood that Nathan's story had actually been about David.

 

Let's look at a similar incident in the New Testament during the life of Jesus. See Luke 19: 1 – 9. Jesus confronted a chief tax collector in the IRS of his day about his need to repent and turn to God. Zaccheus responded positively to Jesus, was redeemed from his sinful condition, and then exclaimed, "I will restore fourfold what I have taken dishonestly!"

 

Okay, what do we have—in principle—now? Two fold restoration. Fourfold restoration. And sevenfold restoration. (see Psalm 79: 12 for an intimation of seven-fold restoration.) Does it get any better in this life? Look at Mark 10: 29 – 31. In some few instances, some people will receive in this life one-hundredfold restoration! In this reference, there are some other details that are part of that degree of restoration, but I'll let you ponder those for yourself.

Revival = Restoration

 

I want to insert at this point in our teaching this thought which you might want to pursue with some study on your own. In the Old Testament, the words "revive" and "restore" are often used synonymously. I guarantee if you look up both those Old Testament words in an exhaustive Bible concordance, you could find yourself studying an entire body of thought about the Bible's principles of revival and restoration.

 

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for "revive" is "chayah," meaning to live again. In the New Testament, the Greek word for "revive" is "anazao," meaning the same as the Hebrew word. Thus, "revive" means that something was dead and has been brought back to life. The English word "revive" means the same as the Hebrew and Greek words—with the added concept of bringing something back to a healthy, vigorous, flourishing condition after a decline.

 

Yes, I encourage you to put all those definitions, thoughts, and concepts together for a fascinating study of your own about restoration and revival.

 

As already indicated, the Bible is replete with references to restoration; please take a look, for example, at Proverbs 6: 31. There is not one, single reference that teaches the entire principle of restoration found in the Bible; you must take references such as this one in Proverbs and put it together with numerous other references on the subject before arriving at the "big picture," before arriving at an honest conclusion about the Bible's overall teaching about this subject.

 

Now to just a few examples from the prophetic books of the Old Testament. First, turn to Joel chapter 2. There had been a horrible plague of locusts in the land, stripping away every green and growing plant. The land was completely denuded and devastated. God then prophesied through the prophet Joel (verses 25 and 26):

 

"And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten . . . And you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the Name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you."

 

Look at Isaiah 58: 12 for another example. It speaks of rebuilding waste places, rebuilding foundations, repairing breaches, and restoring homes that people dwell in. It's a "word picture" of the principle of God's restoration of our broken, ruined, abandoned lives.

 

"Flow Chart" For Restoration

 

Finally, I encourage you to read the entire short book of Lamentations. It's about the prophet Jeremiah lamenting the destruction and fall of Jerusalem and pleading with God to rebuild and restore that great city. If you read through the book carefully, you will find a "flow chart" that goes something like this: Human, self-willed sin leads to suffering. Suffering leads to sorrow. Sorrow leads to repentance. Repentance leads to prayer. Prayer leads to hope. Hope leads to faith. And faith leads to restoration. In a general way, you can follow that flow chart throughout the Bible in terms of God's principles of complete and total restoration of fallen humanity, the earth, and the entire universe.

 

Before we proceed, I want to clarify and expand a basic "rule" or principle of Bible study I hinted at above. When studying any one topic or subject in the Bible, it is simply sound, honest scholarship to study all the references on a given subject before arriving at a conclusion about that subject. In other words, be wary of simply taking isolated "proof texts" in order to "prove" something from the Bible. Check out everything the entire Bible has to teach about a subject or topic and then draw your conclusions. That just makes plain good sense.

 

For example, if you choose to study for yourself the subject of restoration in the Bible, there are over 60 references to "restore" or "restoration" (and more references to "revive" and "revival") which you should look up and study—in their context—before you arrive at any conclusion about the subject. That's what I did when studying this subject before writing about it and sort of summarizing the subject in this teaching.

 

In following the rule or principle of Bible study I mentioned above, however, there is often one more factor to take into consideration. Generally (not always) most Bible subjects or topics will have one specific reference—a verse or two, a chapter, etc.—that sort of encapsulates or summarizes that particular subject or topic in the Bible.

 

For example, the subject of resurrection in the Bible is pretty well summarized in 1 Corinthians 15; the subject of love is encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 13. And so on . . .

Summary Of the Restoration Process

 

Following that principle, for the subject of restoration in the Bible, it is summarized or encapsulated in Acts 3: 18 – 21; Peter was speaking to some of the Jewish people of his day:

 

"God has fulfilled what He foretold and predicted through all the [Old Testament] prophets, that Jesus should suffer, undergo ill treatment, and be afflicted.  So change your mind [repent] and your life's purposes; turn around and return to God, that your sins may be wiped clean [erased, blotted out, removed]; then wonderful times of restoration [revival and refreshing] will come from the Lord.  And [repent so] that God may send to you Jesus, who was designated and appointed for you long before; yes, I'm speaking about Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time for the complete and final restoration of all [everything in all of creation] that God spoke about by all his prophets from the most ancient times in the memory of humankind."

 

As mentioned at the beginning of this teaching, the final restoration of all things God has ever created—the entire universe, including the earth and every human who has ever lived—will be fully restored to far more and greater than its original condition. Put it this way: whatever we can possibly think or imagine that the restored universe and earth will be like, it will actually be far more than we can ever think or imagine—in our wildest imaginings!

 

The earth and universe will be a virginal re-creation, fresh and unspoiled; a universe without blemish, whole and clean and undamaged. It will be ever new, ever changing, ever fresh as it was in it's first beginning, but this time preserved in innocence for in eternity.

 

The End Of The Bible

 

If I were to ask you to turn to the end of the Bible, you would most likely turn to the 22nd chapter of Revelation. Revelation 22 is the last chapter in the format of the Bible, but it is not the actual end of the Bible in terms of last events. The actual end of the Bible's teachings about events is in the 15th chapter of First Corinthians. Let's examine what I mean by that being the true end of the Bible.

 

I'm going to paraphrase and "modernize" for you verses 23 – 28:  "Jesus was the very first Person to be resurrected from the dead. When He returns, then we will be resurrected into his Kingdom. Some time after that event, there will occur the final consummation when Jesus delivers his Kingdom to God the Father after He has rendered inoperative and abolished every other opposing power in the entire universe.  Jesus will reign in his Kingdom until He puts every enemy—even our worst enemy, death—under his feet and completely abolishes them.  Having done that, then Jesus will turn his Kingdom over to God the Father and completely submit Himself to the Father.  When that takes place, then God will be All in all, everything to everyone, once and for all indwelling everyone and every thing in all creation!"

 

Dear reader, that's the final restoration, when God has completely restored every human ever born and the entire universe and earth, and He becomes All in all! Everything God is doing in your life and mine, both now, and in our resurrected state in his Kingdom is always working toward that end. Our final destiny is to be fully and completely restored through Jesus' total and finished work of complete and full salvation on our behalf.

Restored Into God's Image

 

Let me be just a little more specific now and think together for a few minutes about God's restoration of us: you and me.  God's vision for us . . . God's dream for us . . . God's destiny for us . . . God's plans and purposes for us are to fully restore us into his clear, unblemished image. God created us in his image. We marred his image in us. God is restoring his image in us.

 

The fullest—the perfect—image of God is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1: 3; 1 Corinthians 3: 18; 4: 4; Colossians 1: 15). Jesus is the unmarred, unblemished, completely focused, and perfect image of God. I am an imperfect, marred, blemished, fuzzy, unfocused, and blurred image of God.

 

What does it mean to be in the image of God? It means that I am a visible representation of the invisible God. Let me emphasize again: Jesus is God's perfect visible representation; I am God's imperfect visible representation.  How is God restoring his image in me? I cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He empowers me (from within where He lives in my spirit) to change my mind daily from choosing to live a self-filled life to choosing to live a Jesus-filled life.

 

Changing my mind (what the Bible terms "repentance") day after day, year after year, and on into Jesus' Kingdom, then afterwards in the eternal state of the freshly restored universe and earth—changes me more and more into the fully restored image of God . . . into a less blurred image of God . . . into a more clearly focused image of God. (Romans 12: 1 and 2; Ephesians 4: 23, etc.)

 

Thus, God's vision and destiny for my life—and for yours—is to fully restore us into his image!  He is taking whatever steps are necessary (many known only to Him) in order to accomplish that vision for us. He is eternally farsighted. I am very often shortsighted, not seeing beyond the finite limitations of my mortal life. Tapping into God's vision for my life draws me toward my future. It helps me stay focused on my future. My life's vision—in tandem with God's—continually helps me shape my future. What my past has been does not necessarily equal what my future is to be—fully restored into the image of God.

 

God is love, and unconditionally and eternally loves his entire creation. Everything He does flows out of his eternal love for his entire creation and is filtered through his love. (1 John 4: 8; Jeremiah 31: 3) He is an altogether good God, and everything He does is good. (Psalm 119: 68) Everything—everything!—that happens in our lives is working toward our ultimate, final good. (Genesis 50: 20; Romans 8: 28, and similar references taken together as a whole!)

 

Like a magnet irresistibly draws iron filings to itself, God is always and ever . . . inexorably . . . inescapably . . . unerringly . . . drawing every human being and everything else everywhere and everywhen in the entire created universe to Himself through the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary—restoring them to a far, far, greater condition than they were in the beginning! (John 6: 44 and 12: 32; Genesis 1: 1)

 

The Bible begins with "In the beginning God . . . "

The Bible wraps it all up with "In the end God . . . "

(Genesis 1: 1; 1 Corinthians 15: 28)

 

Revised and Updated May 2017

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