Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Bookends of the Bible (1)

(This is the first of two posts on the bookends of the Bible)

You can get a pretty good idea about most books simply by reading the beginning and the end of the book. It’s no different with the top-selling book of all time - the Bible.

This isn't the beginning or the end, but I think you get the idea.

The first two chapters in Genesis describe the garden of Eden. The last two chapters in Revelation describe the New Jerusalem. These descriptions contain some striking similarities that relate to themes which persist throughout the entire Bible.

Perhaps most importantly, Satan and sin do not appear in these four chapters. Throughout most of the Bible, Satan lurks like an annoying pest. But in the bookends, he is nowhere to be found! Satan enters the scene in the first verse of Genesis chapter 3. In the following verses, Satan corrupts mankind, starting a downward spiral from God's original intention for man. God has to find ways to deal with the problems Satan creates. However, in Revelation 20:10-15, God permanently eliminates Satan, death, and Hades by casting them into the lake of fire. This is just in time for Revelation 21 and 22, the last two chapters in the Bible.

What is God’s original intention for man?

We have to look no further than the bookends of the Bible for the answer.

Genesis 1:26 reveals that God created man to bear his image and to have dominion over the earth. Though Satan corrupted man, this intention is finally realized in full with the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and 22. The New Jerusalem is the consummation of the church, the bride of Christ (v. 9-10). Its appearance is like jasper (v. 11), which is like the appearance of God on the throne (Revelation 4:3). That's God's image! Meanwhile, Revelation 22:5 says that those in the New Jerusalem will reign forever. That's dominion over the earth!

How do we get to the point where we can bear God’s image and rightfully have dominion over the earth?

Once again, back to the bookends! It’s a matter of eating and drinking. Eating and drinking are related to two items that appear in both the garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem.

First, we have the tree of life. The tree of life makes its debut in Genesis 2:9, in which God places the tree of life in the middle of the garden for man to eat. The tree of life makes its final appearance in Revelation 22:2, where it grows on both sides of the river like the vine tree, which signifies Christ (John 15:1). God intends that man would eat the tree of life to be organically constituted with Christ Himself. The idea of eating Christ is also seen prominently in John 6.

The second item is the river. In Genesis 2:10, the river waters the garden of Eden and flows to the four corners of the earth. In Revelation 22:1, this same river proceeds out of the throne of God. This river also surfaces in Psalm 46:4, Ezekiel 47:5-9, and John 7:37-39, where Jesus reveals that the rivers of living water are actually the Spirit. God wants us to eat Christ as the tree of life, and He also wants us to drink the Spirit as the river of life (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Be on the lookout for the next post for more themes that begin in Genesis 1-2, continue to develop throughout the entire Bible, and reach a climax in Revelation 21-22!


Anonymous said...

I was in a Bible study on this topic a few semesters ago. What I took away from the fact that the first 2 and last 2 chapters in e Bible mirror each other was 1) that God's purpose is consistent and unchanging from beginning to end 2) that redemption is not God's eternal purpose because at the time of man's creation there was no sin. Man was not created merely to be redeemed and 3) life is for building. There will be no monastics in the New Jerusalem!

Vania said...

I'm not sure if this is the right way to look at it, but it seems like the themes are proposed in Genesis and applied or accomplished in Revelation.

For instance, in Genesis God proposes that man would be made in His image and with His dominion. In Revelation, we finally attain the appearance of God and reign forever.

Looking forward to your next post!

danielle mccartney said...

Wow! Awesome post! Can't wait for the next one! :)

Leon Dean said...

Thanks everyone! Here's a good analogy: each truth is comprised of a seed sown in Genesis, growth throughout the Bible, and a harvest in Revelation.

Anonymous said...

From C.H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch- "As each section of the book of Genesis opens before us, we are furnished with fresh evidence of the fact that we are traveling over, what a recent writer has well termed, 'the seed-plot of the whole Bible'; and not only so, but the seed-plot of man's entire history."

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