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Eschatology and Creation

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Creation and Re-Creation

Genesis 1:1–31 ESV
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. 9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. 20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. 24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1
Genesis 1
Genesis 1:31 ESV
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 2:7 ESV
7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
God created the earth and man’s body as material entities, and all “very good”. He has a plan for the physical world, not just a spiritual destiny.
Colossians 1:15–20 ESV
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:15-
Reconcile to himself what things? All things. Salvation and redemption are more than just personal, they are also cosmic, universal. There is an aspect to Christ’s redemptive purposes that encompasses the entire created order.
Romans 8:18–25 ESV
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
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Creation also be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. I want to drill this into your heads, because for so long the Christian church in America has been largely ignoring these passages. They have given us an eschatology that says the material world is evil and is destined to fail. Only a complete destruction of the cosmos can lead to a New Heavens and New Earth.
But that’s not how redemption works. Think about it this way: If the redemption of the world that Paul describes in is paralelled with our own salvation, why would it work differently? Does God redeem a people for himself by just getting rid of all of the sinful people and then starting over with completely new people? No, thank the Lord! Otherwise you and I would all be doomed. Rather, God takes things that are stained, broken, and marred by sin, in bondage to corruption, and he makes them new, not by building something different, but by restoring the old into something new.
In the same way that we will be ourselves when we have our glorified bodies, just better, holy, free from sin, so the world will be redeemed in the same way. It will still be same world, but it will be better, new, holier, free from sin and death.
The material world has a purpose, and that purpose does not end in destruction, but redemption.
Ephesians 1:7–10 ESV
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Ephesians 1:
Ephesians 1:3–10 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The Image of God

Genesis 1:26–28 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:26–27 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Man is not a random collection of molecules, a made-over fish, or an advanced ape who arrived on earth after long eons of chance events. God made him in His image. This distinguishes him from and elevates him above the animal kingdom which is to be in submission to him. This was the original plan for creation and humanity.
Let’s do a brief study on the image of God in man throughout the Genesis account. This should give us a better idea of man’s role in the created order. Six features define man as God’s image with a view to his reflecting God in these dimensions.

The Personality of God

Ten times in God speaks. In his speaking he communicates himself and converses with man who is to respond.
Genesis 1:29–30 ESV
29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis
Genesis 3:11 ESV
11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

The Rationality of God

Not only does God speak, but he speaks rationally, with structure and purpose. “Let there be…and there was.”
Genesis 1:3 ESV
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:6 ESV
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
Genesis
Genesis 1:14 ESV
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,
He blesses man and reasons within himself.
Genesis 1:28 ESV
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
He communicates with man, expecting man to rationally respond.
Genesis 1:29–30 ESV
29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

The Creativity of God

Over and over again we see God creating, for he “made” and commands “let there be”. Then he puts man in Eden to creatively cultivate it so that he can create human culture.
Genesis
Genesis 2:15 ESV
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 4:20–22 ESV
20 Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. 22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

The Authority of God

Things are what they are because God sovereignly calls them thus. God teaches man to exercise a creaturely authority and dominion. In fact, he declares man as his image. God commands “Let them have dominion.”

The Morality of God

God’s creation is beautiful, harmonious and righteous in the beginning. God sees that all that he creates is good, and he tests man to promote moral goodness.
Genesis 2:16–17 ESV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The Society of God

As the Triune God, the Lord speaks in the plural.
Genesis 1:26 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Then he declares that man should compose a society.
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

The Creation Mandate

All of this leads us to what is called the Creation Mandate. Each of the features we discussed above culminate in the Creation Mandate. Because we are delegated authority from God as humanity in Genesis:
Genesis 1:26–27 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:26 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
We have a responsibility to take dominion over the earth and its creatures. How do we do this? Be employing the other features! Because we have Personality, Rationality, Creativity, Morality, and Society, we can work together to take dominion and authority over the created order. Or at least, that was the idea before the Fall. Let’s check out a quote from Sung Wook Chung, who is a premillenialist, but still has a good handle on what the Creation Mandate means in this passage:
God’s action of creating man and woman in his own image and likeness means that God wants to have his representatives in physical form. The image is a physical manifestation of divine (or royal) essence that bears the function of that which it represents; this gives the image-bearer the capacity to reflect the attributes of the one represented and act on his behalf. The major task of these representatives is to rule over the whole creation as God’s vice-regents. Lordship and dominion over the entire creation are given to man and woman unconditionally on the basis of God’s sovereign grace.
Man lives up to his creational purpose when he multiplies and acts as a social creature exercising righteous dominion in the earth. This Creation/Dominion Mandate remains in effect after the fall, and we see in the early parts of Genesis humanity fulfilling this mandate…that is, until they don’t. Because now sin has entered the world, and so we cannot fulfill it in the way that we should. We no longer have the moral capacity to have righteous dominion over God’s Creation, and so we are destined to fail at this task. That’s why we see God have to intervene at the Flood and the Tower of Babel to still accomplish His purpose of having humanity subdue the earth. But even that doesn’t work, and God knew it wouldn’t, because man is fallen.
So we see God’s purpose for humanity in this world (bringing glory to God by bearing his image into the world) but they cannot fulfill it on their own. This is where many Christian theologians stop. They say that the Creation Mandate had to be abandoned because it was impossible to fulfill. But this seriously brings into question the fact that God accomplishes His purposes.
So what had to happen? Jesus had to be the man that Adam couldn’t and fulfill all of God’s redemptive and salvific purposes on Earth, including the restoration and dominion of the created order. How does this work? We’ll get to it.

Dominion of the Earth

One important aspect of the implications of the Creation Mandate and the Fall that I wanted to make sure to clarify and explain is that of the delegation of authority and how the Fall affects that delegation. You see, one of the other reasons that man can’t fulfill his dominion mandate is because he no longer has delegated authority over it in the same way that he did. Why? Because the fall gave Satan authority over the earth. How do we know this?
I think there are plenty of places we could go to find prooftexts or clarifying passages that would imply this fact, but I think the best and easiest place to go is to , with the temptation of Christ by Satan in the wilderness.
Matthew 4:7–11 ESV
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:7
What is Satan offering Christ? The world, and all the kingdoms in it. Because man no longer had any moral authority, Satan had become defacto ruler. Satan can’t promise to give away something that he doesn’t own. Why wouldn’t Jesus just say: You can’t give me that, I already own it, or humans own it? Because Satan was being truthful. If Jesus would have worshipped him, he would have given him the kingdoms of the world. We can also see the power of Satan’s influence in the way that demonic presences/false gods had been very prevalent during the OT period and Jesus’ ministry.
This brings up another question that leads us to further understanding what this idea of delegation of dominion and authority means: Why was Jesus tempted by Satan’s offer? It wasn’t because he thought worshipping Satan sounded fun, obviously. It was because he could get the kingdoms of the world if he just bowed down. Why was this tempting to him? It was because this was part of what Jesus came to do. As the Last Adam, he came to take dominion where Adam had failed and had instead given defacto authority to Satan instead.
But to do this, Jesus had to die on the cross, a horrible painful death, and take on the wrath of God, infinitely worse. Satan was offering him a way out—you can have the world, like you planned, but here’s the shortcut—just worship me.
But Jesus resisted the temptation and now He is king. His ascension was him taking his rightful place as king. So we have a transfer of authority. Obviously God the Father is in charge of everything, as sovereign creator, but he delegated authority to Adam, who lost it to Satan, and finally was regained by Jesus Christ, the perfect God-man who did what Adam could not. And now Jesus, since he won back the world, is going to take dominion where Adam failed to, where humanity failed to. Let’s talk about how he does that.

The Expectation of Victory

Genesis 3:15 ESV
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Explain the significance of this quote and the fact that this wasn’t the full gospel yet but rather just a hint of what the gospel would fully become.
This first Gospel promise, therefore, despite the terse and figurative language in which it is expressed, provides a true perspective of the whole sweep of human history. In this verse we witness God establishing the covenant of grace in history. Later New Testament revelation records this prophecy’s fulfillment in the death and ressurection of Christ; it is not still awaiting some distant fulfillment.
In this verse we see history’s underlying struggle as Satan resists God’s creational and redemptive purposes. Here we have at prophecy’s very inception the certain hope of victory. Just as Adam’s fall has a world-wide negative effect, so does God’s salvation, because of the work of the Last Adam in arising from the dead.
Romans 5:12–15 ESV
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

The Progression of Victory

One thing I want to make clear here is that Scripture makes it clear that God’s purposes always happen progressively. That is, whether it be the Revelation of Scripture, the salvation of people, or the cosmic defeat of Satan and his kingdom, they all work in a series of stages. These stages can be most aptly summed up using the terms Scripture uses for personal salvation. Let’s go through them one at a time and explain how they fit each of the three ways God works that I described above.

Justification

Explain justification.
The revelation of Scripture and the Gospel promise is described similarly. We have , a proto-gospel, which is a definitive, true statement, and since God is all-knowing, sovereign, and outside of time, His word and promise here is already good enough to call it accomplished. But it hasn’t been completely followed through yet. We have a promise but no fulfillment in history that we can see visibly. But God intends it that way, He will continue to progressively reveal His revelations and promises throughout the history of his covenant people.
Cosmic eschatology and victory have this stage as well. This stage was completed when Christ defeated sin and death and Satan. He crushed Satan’s head as was prophesied. He took the wrath of God that was upon us on himself instead, and he defeated death by rising on the third day. But obviously there is still sin, there is still death, there are still the works of Satan being done on earth. So what changed? Everything. It had already been decided. Victory had been announced. But there was still a work that had be done progressively in history to bring that work to a close.

Sanctification

Explain sanctification.
We see the revelation of scripture working the same way—promises being given, God progressively revealing himself more and more through the way he acts in history to his people. The Hebrews didn’t understand the fullness of God’s plans for history, because they didn’t have the New Testament yet, but those things were still true. God has always been triune, but a Jew living in the time of Israel wouldn’t be able to know that. So and so forth.
Cosmic eschatology and redemption work similarly. Though Jesus definitely won on Calvary and through his Resurrection and ascension, we are now in a period of progressive sanctification, not only in our personal lives, but in the redemption of the world around us. We see things getting better—standards of living, the spread of the gospel, technology, dominion, the Law of God going out to all people. And even though there are ups and downs in this, like in personal sanctification, there is still always an upward trend.

Glorification

Explain glorification.
We see the revelation of Scripture working similarly. There came a point, after the Apostles wrote their teachings and John gave us Revelation, that canon was complete. There did not need to be anything more added, for the full revelation of God to humanity had been given. It had been perfected.
Cosmic eschatology and redemption is the same. One day there will be a consummation of the work Jesus has been doing from his throne in heaven and the heralds will have gone and proclaimed his kingship to every corner of the earth. Then he will return to fully and completely claim what is his. Completely get rid of sin and death, but only after every enemy has been put under his feet.
1 Corinthians 15:24–28 ESV
24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:24
This is the picture that Scripture gives us for how the redemption of the world will play out.

Conclusion

So what have we learned? God created the material world for a purpose, and since God accomplishes all his purposes, the world will have its purposed fulfilled. It won’t be destroyed, but rather redeemed, like and show us. Adam and Eve were given a mandate—fill the earth and subdue it, show the various facets of the image of God by taking dominion over the world. They failed, and so forfeited this delegated authority to Satan, who ruled with the weapons of sin and death. Jesus, the Last Adam, came and did what Adam could not, resisting the temptation of Satan and instead dying for the sins of His people, winning back control of the world and is now taking dominion over the world he created. This happened definitely and surely on the cross and through the Resurrection and ascension, but is also happening progressively throughout history, as the world is sanctified. And it will be finished completely when the world and God’s people are glorified by Christ’s final return to claim his sanctified kingdom.
Psalm 2 ESV
1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
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