Continued from Last Month
As previously mentioned, the Bible is filled with references to God ultimately restoring all of creation, including humanity. However, there is not just one, single reference that teaches the entire principle of restoration found in the Bible. You must put together all biblical references on the subject before arriving at the “big picture,” before arriving at an honest conclusion about the Bible’s overall teaching about the subject of restoration.
Now let’s look at just a few examples from the prophetic books of the Old Testament. First, turn to Joel chapter 2 for some events that occurred about 800 years before the time of Jesus. 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 for you the years that the locusts have eaten . . . And you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the Name of God, Who has dealt wondrously with you.”
Look at Isaiah 58: 12 for another example. It’s about 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, empty 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-centered sin leads to suffering.
Suffering leads to sorrow.
Sorrow leads to repentance (changing our minds).
Repentance leads to prayer. Prayer leads to hope.
Hope leads to faith. 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 sin-full humanity, the earth, and the entire universe.
Basic “Rule” of Study
Before we proceed, I want to clarify and expand a basic “rule” or principle of Bible study I mentioned 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 entire subject in the June and July issues of The Traveler.
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
As mentioned at the beginning of this teaching, the final restoration of all things God has created—the entire universe, including the earth and all humanity—will be fully restored to conditions far greater than their original states. Put it this way: whatever we can possibly think or imagine the restored universe and earth will be like, it will actually be far more than we can think or imagine . . . in the wildest imaginings of our imaginations! 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 its first beginning, but this time preserved in innocence throughout the eternal realm.
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 last 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 his return, there will occur the final consummation when Jesus turns over his Kingdom to God the Father after He has rendered inoperative and abolished every 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 everything in all creation—everything restored and then some!”
Dear reader, that’s the final restoration, when God will have completely restored humanity and the entire universe and earth, and He becomes All in all!
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. By our sin, we marred his image in us. God is restoring his clear image in us. The fullest—the perfect—image of God is Jesus (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 I am 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 imperfectvisible representation.
How is God restoring his image in me? I cooperate with Holy Spirit as He empowers me (from within where He lives in my spirit) to change my mind from choosing to live a self-centered, self-righteous 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.
The ThreeFold Cord
Taken together as a whole, the Bible teaches God is drawing every person to Himself with eternal love. Moreover, that drawing to Himself is actually with a threefold cord of love, grace, and truth. Jesus exclaimed if He were “lifted up” on the cross, He would draw every human to Himself. I take his statement at face value. He was lifted up, He is drawing every person irresistibly to Himself with a threefold cord of eternal love, grace, and truth.
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 undying 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!)
“As 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
- 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)
To think about this month:
“Stop and ask yourself right now—today: ‘Where am I in the process of God’s fully restoring me to Himself?’”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated December 2020