On Monday night we began a several-week study looking at what the bible says about how this world will wrap up and end. We began looking at the End Times by first looking at the whole story scripture tells, from an overview/central story line perspective. Here are the notes:
Intro: Why are we talking about the end? It’s an absurd idea for many people. We’re talking about the end because as Christians, we understand that there is an end because there is a beginning. The beginning, and the middle of the story, shape what the end is going to be. The current state of things is not eternal.
An overview of the plan of God:
1. The Creation: God makes everything Good
Genesis 1:1, 1:26-28
There’s only one God. He’s eternal, the creator of all. The Earth is made good. Humanity is made with blessing and dominion.
2. The Fall: The rebellion of sin ruins everything
Genesis 3:17-19, 3:22-24, 3:15
Sin and turning away from God results in a loss of blessing and a curse on creation. Death enters the scene (no eternal life). But: A “seed” is promised who will defeat the serpent.
3. God chooses Abraham’s family as His channel to bless the world
Genesis 12:1-3, 22:17-18
Blessing will return to earth through Abraham’s family (seed).
4. Abraham’s family grows and receives law and promises, becomes kingdom
Lev 17:11 (Law: blood sacrifice), 2 Samuel 7:12-16
A descendant (seed) of David will occupy the throne forever.
5. The kingdom fails, but the Prophets announce that God’s plan still moves forward
Isaiah 9:6-7, Daniel 7:13-14
Israel: Jer 31:1-4
New Covenant: Jer 31:31-34
Israel will be re-gathered. The coming seed from Abraham will be a descendant of David. He will rule Israel and the whole earth and return blessing to all.
6. The promised solution comes: Jesus.
Matthew 1:1, Mt 4:17, John 3:3, Galatians 3:13-14 New Covenant: Mk 14:22-25
The kingdom is near. Only the reborn can enter.
The consequences of Adam’s fall must be dealt with before blessing (eternal life) can return. Christ Dies on the cross, becomes a curse for us, so that blessing can go out to humanity.
7. After He dies and is raised, Jesus sends followers to announce His work.
Luke 24:46-48, Acts 1:1-8
We are the witnesses of who Jesus is and what He did. Forgiveness is being offered, the kingdom is coming. (We live in this part of the story…)
8. Jesus returns, undoes the effects of sin, and all things are made new.
Rev 19:11-15, 21:1-4, 22:1-5
Jesus reigns as king. All blessing restored. God is now with Man
What seeing things this way mean?
- Part of the Christian message is that history is not random. The things that happen all have some purpose and significance, because there is a purpose, significance, and order, to the whole. In other words, there is intention behind the flow of world history.
- We can only know the meaning of our lives when we see the whole story, and how we relate to that story. Our problem with purpose in this culture is a direct result of losing track of the story we’re in—of the meaning of history.
- The end of the story matches the beginning—by completing it, and by enabling an actual conclusion: what’s broken is fixed, what’s fractured is reunited, and evil is judged and exiled. We were made to live with this sense of completion.
- Our God shows himself to be someone who always finishes what he starts, and always wins—and that when he wins, things are awesome. When we come to our senses…we want him to win. And we begin to want to see and to experience that victory so much that we start getting excited about the day when it arrives.
The loss of awareness of these four things is a huge source of the angst that afflicts many of us.
- We live with a fear that nothing’s really in control, that all this stuff is happening but it’s not really going anywhere—randomness is the only things we can expect. We want order and progress in our lives but we live in a word (we think) where nothing is really ordered and no progress is really happening.
- We want to be connected to things that matter, things that don’t snuff out of existence when we die, but we’ve all been told for so long that those big things don’t really exist. We settle for things like the environment (but one day we’ll be extinct regardless, and the universes stop being able to support life.) Most of us have just stopped believing in any big purposes like this—we settle for small things, or we settle for entertainment and no big purpose at all.
- We want closure in our lives—real, fully completed healing and justice. We want the story to end the way it does in the movies—everything fixed, bad guys defeated, families reunited, good things ahead. But we’ve been educated to believe that no world like that exists, so we try to keep ourselves sane ourselves by not really thinking about the end of our lives or the end of the world.
- We feel the universe to be impersonal, and we’re broken by a sense of personal let down in our lives. But we’ve been told that no one bigger than humans exist, except maybe aliens, and so we stop hoping for a true Father figure to be there.
But understanding the story of history as the Christian scriptures describe it settles all those issues for us. We know history has a point and a direction, we learn how to be connected to the big purpose and true meaning of everything, we never lose hope because we know that everything is going to be fixed and we’re going to enjoy the healed version of the earth forever, and we now come into relationship with the Father, so nothing is cold and impersonal any more. And we stop fearing “the end”—whether that’s the end of our personal lives or the end of the world in general.