In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . .

Genesis 1:1

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Revelation 22:21

 

In the last couple of days, I have been reflecting with you on how the “frame” of Scripture helps us understand the Bible, and therefore our lives, more completely. In yesterday’s devotion, we noted how both the first creation in Genesis 1-2 and the new creation in Revelation 21-22 underscore the importance of the created world to God. And if God cares so much about creation, then certainly we should as well.

A couple standing on a hilltop overlooking a city.Today, I want to consider the role of human beings in both creation stories. In the first creation, God made human beings as unique bearers of his image (Genesis 1:26-27). Moreover, God gave to human beings the unique responsibility of sharing in God’s own work in the world (1:28; 2:15). We are collaborators with God in the work of helping the world he created and cares so much about to flourish.

In the closing “frame” of Scripture, human beings once again play a central, supporting role in the drama. We are the ones who will be with God forever and have our tears wiped away by God (Revelation 21:3-4). We will drink from the water of life as God’s children (21:6-7). We will dwell in the Holy City, bringing into the city only what is pure, honorable, and glorious (22:24-27). We will be God’s servants, bearing God’s name on our foreheads (22:3-4). And, strikingly, we will reign with God “for ever and ever” (22:5).

Revelation does not spell out in detail how we will reign in God’s future. But, in light of the unique role given to humankind in Genesis 1-2, it seems likely that we will exercise our God-given authority over the new creation, much as we did over the first creation. God will once again empower us to tend and care for what he has created. And, this time around, we won’t mess it all up.

What enables us to be God’s servants and co-rulers in the new creation? In Revelation 22, just before we are named as God’s servants who reign with him for ever and ever, we read: “No longer will there be any curse” (22:2-3). What took away the curse of sin? The cross of Jesus Christ. The sacrificial death of Jesus set us free from sin and death. It enables us to be reunited with God and to join God in his cosmic work. Thus, the cross stands at the theological center of human history, not only as that which makes individual salvation possible, but also enables us to participate in the new creation. The frame of Genesis 1-2 and Revelation 21-22 does not in any way diminish the wonder of our salvation through Christ. But it shows us that this salvation is much more than merely a ticket to heaven. Rather, it is an invitation to participate fully and wondrously in God’s new heaven and new earth.

Something to Think About:

As you read in Revelation 22 that we will reign “for ever and ever,” what do you envision?

Do you think the unique role of human beings in Genesis 1-2 helps us to understand our future role in God’s new creation? Why or why not?

In your work today, how can you exercise authority in a way that honors God?

Prayer:

Gracious God, thank you for creating us as your co-workers, for giving us authority over your creation. And, when we messed everything up because of sin, thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for redeeming us through Christ. Thank you for allowing us to participate with you in your work of redemption, as we live and proclaim the good news. Thank you for the promise of the future, when we will serve you intimately and reign with you forever.

Help us, Lord, to live right now in light of this future. Help us to use well the authority and opportunity you have entrusted to us. May we exercise leadership humbly as your servants. May we exercise leadership faithfully as those you have entrusted with so much. Amen.

This post was originally published on June 16, 2016.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God Creates and Equips People to Work (Genesis 1:26-2:25)

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