In our pursuit to understand the strong warning at the end of Hebrews 10, we are examining the assumption that the whole Story is about forgiveness and redemption. If these are the only issue, then the warning threatens our eternal security. Are we in danger of “loosing our salvation”? Could we really go to hell if we screw up?
So, we returned to the beginning of the Story, to see if we missed anything.
We started with the Bad News behind the Good News. In summary, the Bad News is that, in the Garden, we chose to –
- Abandon the identity and significance that was ours as God’s representatives.
- Abandon the fulfillment of life in the Garden – the sustenance, beauty, and intimacy available there.
- Align ourselves with the enemy of God, making ourselves rebels, objects of God’s wrath.
- Follow a path leading to physical death.
This raises the question, “Is the situation hopeless, or can all that was lost be recovered?”
Actually, from the very beginning, there is hope. But the hope was not in redemption but in the anticipated defeat of the enemy responsible for the overthrow of God’s kingdom on earth, and in the reversal of the effects of the curse. They are not looking forward to being forgiven, they are looking forward to a time when the threat to God’s Kingdom is crushed, and when they can rest in the abundant provision of the earth, rather than toiling in sweat, battling thorns and thistles.
Which raises the question of whether our perspective still too limited? Is our understanding of the Story too self-centered? Is it about more than the personal loss for us?
Well, clearly, the promise in Genesis 3:15 is not about us directly. And, while Lamech’s hope had personal benefit for him, it was ultimately about mankind (“us” – v. 29) experiencing comfort in place of the loss brought by the curse. Remember, Adam was not cursed. He was certainly impacted by the curse, but God cursed the ground – the environment in which Adam lived. So, in both places, the hope is about the larger situation of which we are a part. It is about the Kingdom of God on earth, and about His creation.
Recall the context – His Kingdom on earth has been overthrown by His own agents. His creation has been thrown into turmoil. No longer do His representatives walk with Him in the cool of the day. Gone is the harmony between these representatives and the creation over which they were to rule on His behalf. Now there are thorns and thistles. Instead of abundant provision, mankind will scratch out a living by the sweat of their brow, until they ultimately succumb to the dust. Where God’s Kingdom once stood, chaos now reigns, and creation is broken.
These are the situations that these foundational hopes address.
As I consider how other passages fit with this larger perspective, Paul’s summary of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15) comes to mind. His emphasis is not the death and burial of Jesus (1 ½ verses), but on Jesus’ resurrection (54 ½ verses). His resurrection guarantees our resurrection when He comes. After that comes the end “when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” (15:24-25) The story doesn’t end with our forgiveness – it ends with the abolition of all challenges to His rule. Yes, we are important to Him. Our redemption is a priority, but not THE priority. Remember, we were not created just to enjoy creation. We had a job. We were supposed to administer His Kingdom – rule as His representatives. His redemption of us relates to our role as His agents. He is restoring us to our original role, as a part of the overall restoration of His Kingdom.
Again, my mind jumps forward – to John’s vision of how the Story ends (Revelation 19-22) – with Jesus coming as King, to crush all opposition, establish His Kingdom that will last for 1000 years, and then replace this Creation with a New Heaven and New Earth, untarnished by the curse. Not, “we die, go to heaven and live happily ever after”, which is what you might expect, if the Story was simply about our forgiveness. But God’s Kingdom perfectly restored, and a Creation completely unmarred by sin.
Seems like the Story might be about more than our forgiveness . . .
For the next article in the series, click here.