The Bible starts off by telling us that God made everything and everything was “good”. Only 1400 words into the three-quarters of a million word story and the whole thing falls apart. Adam and Eve broke the sole command they had, followed by one of their kids killing their other kid, followed by ever increasing wicked generations until God sent the flood and started the whole thing over with Noah in Genesis 6-8. Only this time, with the clean slate, we only get 600 words further into the story before they mess it all up again in Genesis 9.
This cycle repeats in scripture and it repeats in the life of every single one of us. We know this story all too well because we live right in the middle of it. We live in a broken world that needs to be restored back to the “good old days”, not of the 1950s or even the real “50s” (50 AD) but of Genesis 1-2 where everything really was “good”, where there was no death, no mourning and no tears. You know in the first century people were still dying, had diseases and taught false doctrine? In the real, final restoration there won’t be any of that. That is the kind of Restoration the Bible itself is most focused on.
Fastforward 760,000+ words to Revelation 20-22 and we get all the results of sin in Genesis 3 restored back to the way things God intended them to be since the beginning. When you compare the contents of those 6 chapters, you get some insight into the great reversals God is going to do with this world to restore things back to the way they were in the first place. I don’t know who came up with this list but this gives you an idea of just how exact the restoration process is between the first and last three chapters of the Bible
|“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (1:1)||“I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1)|
|“The darkness He called night” (1:5)||“There shall be no night there” (21:25)|
|“God made two great lights” (1:16)||“The city had no need of the sun or of the moon” (21:23)|
|“In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (2:17)||“There shall be no more death” (21:4)|
|Satan appears as deceiver of mankind (3:1)||Satan disappears forever (20:10)|
|Shown a garden into which defilement entered (3:6-7)||Shown a city into which defilement will never enter (21:27)|
|Walk of God with man interrupted (3:8-10)||Walk of God with man resumed (21:3)|
|Initial triumph of the serpent (3:13)||Ultimate triumph of the Lamb (20:10, 22:3)|
|“I will greatly multiply your sorrow” (3:16)||“There shall be no more death or sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain” (21:4)|
|“Cursed is the ground for your sake” (3:!7)||“There shall be no more curse” (22:3)|
|Man’s dominion broken in the fall of the first man, Adam (3:24)||Man’s dominion restored in the rule of the new man, Christ (22:5)|
|First paradise closed (3:23)||New paradise opened (21:25)|
|Access to the tree of life disinherited in Adam (3:24)||Access to the tree of life reinstated in Christ (22:14)|
|They were driven from God’s presence (3:24)||“They shall see his face” (22:4)|
When Jesus returns and he makes all wrongs right he isn’t restoring the world to the church we find in Acts and Paul’s letters (ever read 1 Corinthians?). He is restoring everything to the way he intended it to be in the first place. Instead, we like to pick idealized moments in time and freeze them in our minds as the model for how things should be and try to imitate that. It is important to keep in mind that God is restoring the world to himself through Christ,
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” – 2 Cor 5:18-19
The ultimate restoration is not one that looks back but one that looks forward. Does that mean we throw away scripture and do whatever we want? Of course not. Scripture still has authority. Scripture still informs our practice. Scripture still forms our doctrine. But it is important to keep in mind that the ultimate restorative work God is up to is ahead, not behind.
PS – I am a Restoration Movement, specifically Church of Christ brat. I grew up in it, and have been immersed in that culture and paradigm since I was born and will be until the day I die. I love it, respect it and value it. I believe scripture is important for teaching us and shaping our paradigms of what church is and how we live out our lives as Christians. I don’t want anyone to read this as saying that we shouldn’t try to obey the teachings of the New Testament. To ignore what the New Testament teaches is to show we aren’t really that interested in Restoration in the first place. My sole purpose is to make sure our Restoration theology is rooted in the overarching theology of biblical restoration, what scripture clearly teaches God is up to from Genesis-Revelation, rather than solely on a single aspect of Restoration theology (where we tend to focus in on worship and doctrine).