I imagine in the perfect state the world existed in Genesis 2 reality made a great deal of sense. Everything was good and right. I imagine the universe itself, the alignment of the stars and galaxies was much different. Even to the point where it would be hardly imaginable. In the current state of the universe everything is in motion, getting further and further from the center point of the explosion event we call the “big bang.” As a result the universe is a barren place, small solar systems and galaxies separated by incredible amounts of space. In a perfect harmonious universe, what would the universe look like? Soon enough we’ll know. After the millennial reign of Christ, the final conclusion of the end of evil and the remaking of the universe, the stars, the earth, and the garden city of our future (Rev 20-22).
But today, we exist in a very complicated, broken reality inexorably devastated by sin. And our escape hatch, our “emergency beam out” is Jesus Christ. I start to realize why in my past, as I searched for God, I was drawn to so many apocalyptic visions, books, and movies, like the Matrix, or Donnie Darko. In Donnie Darko a time paradox had occurred in which the primary universe had been altered by the impact of an artifact from outside the system, which generated a “tangent universe.” The idea of the tangent universe was all of reality had been broken, and as the talking Rabbit told Donnie Darko, in 28 days the world will end. A tangent, broken universe has to end for the primary universe to be recreated as it is suppose to be.
In the same way in Revelation chapter 21 God remakes the heavens and the earth (the entire universe) to be as they were before the fall of man. God has a way of inserting such thoughts and ideas into the minds of artists, and even in our depraved media culture, some truth shines through.
The books of the Bible Genesis and Revelation are fascinating because they describe our past, and our future. So in Genesis 2, the universe and the earth made a lot of sense. I’m sure it was quite easy to call a spade a spade. It was easy to tell how great God was, because humanity existed directly in the presence of his spirit and glorious being. Holiness was a fact of life in response to the awe for God, and there was no natural inclination to sin within the human mind.
Of course then, there is the grand mystery of Lucifer (Isa 14:12-15). One of God’s angels, created, living in the direct presence of God, serving him, and how, somehow, within the heart of Lucifer he conceived of sin. Pride paved the path. But how could a being in the direct holiness of God, viewing it, seeing it, feeling it, come to believe he ought to be god? So Lucifer became Satan. And the first humans sided with Satan, believed him, disbelieved God, despite their intimacy with him, and that is where we are today, the planet, the universe cursed by the logical outworking of that sin of self-deification. Recall in Genesis 3:4 4 (C)But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The temptation was “disbelieve God, and exalt yourself to the position of God through disobedience.”
We can see the results all across the planet (Gen 3:17). When there is more than enough wealth and food to go around, but entire continents suffer starvation, brutal conditions, and rampant disease. And even much more locally, we see strip clubs, bars and clubs plastered with screens and loud music and scantly clad men and women. Alcohol on every shelf, drugs on every corner. Abortion clinics, self exaltation shopping malls, and television screens full of temptation to everything and worship sessions at the local NFL, MLB, and NBA stadiums. This is what happens when man tries to play god.
Now it seems, it is very difficult to call a spade a spade. Do you know what I mean? We struggle with such difficult questions like “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“Why do rich bankers successfully suppress the truth, why do they always get away with it?”
“How can the minimum wage be so low a single mother has to work three jobs just to pay for a one bedroom apartment?”
“Why are so many people so in love with studying the smallest details of NFL football statistics, teams, the Packers, but they can’t even name the four gospels?”
And on and on and on the questions go. Paradoxes in reality. Mucky, difficult situations. With the curse of sin upon all hearts, and the natural Earth itself, a billion paradoxes were triggered.
Let’s look at some examples from scripture:
Matthew 23:12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
That’s where the 1st step comes from in twelve step programs. We admitted we were powerless over (insert problem, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, depression) and that our lives had become unmanageable. When we humble ourselves before God, and admit we need his help, he helps us. When we humble ourselves before him, he exalts us. In the same way, when Jacob wrestled with God in the later books of Genesis, God asked Jacob one question: What is your name?
Did God forget what his name was? Is that why he asked? Of course not. But if you recall, when Jacob stole the blessing from his brother Esau, he had lied about his identity (Gen 27:19). Then God asked him what is his name.. Do you know what Jacob means? It means “deceiver.” So when Jacob was willing to admit his identity as a deceiver, God then responded in saying he would make a great nation out of him.
Genesis 32:28 (NIV) Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
Most would assume, if I want to be “exalted”, honored, dignified, lofty, powerful then I need to climb the social ladder. I need to step on the faces of my brothers to get positions in the church. I need to become popular. I need to get the promotion. But instead, God says humble yourself before me, and then you will be great. A paradox.
Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV)
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
This is another powerful example. By all worldly measures, if I give away what I have, donate to charity, help friends out, eventually I’ll have nothing and be destitute. But that is not the case. God promises that those who give freely paradoxically end up growing richer. Another paradox of reality.
The ultimate beautiful paradox occurs on the cross of Jesus Christ. One of my favorite pieces of scripture from the book of Philippines describes the paradox in a very powerful way:
Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:(I)
did not consider equality with God(K) something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing(L)
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,(M)
being made in human likeness.(N)
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death(O)—
even death on a cross!(P)
and gave him the name that is above every name,(R)
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,(S)
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,(T)
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,(U)
to the glory of God the Father.
― C.J. Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing
― Charles H. Spurgeon, All of Grace
Acts 2:23-24 (NIV) This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Acts 7:54-60 (CEV) When the council members heard Stephen’s speech, they were angry and furious. 55 But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked toward heaven, where he saw our glorious God and Jesus standing at his right side.56 Then Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”
57 The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once they all attacked Stephen 58 and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him. The men who had brought charges against him put their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 As Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out, “Lord Jesus, please welcome me!” 60 He knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t blame them for what they have done.” Then he died.
And I wonder. I dream. I ask questions in the fullness of my Christian worldview, like…
If it’s this magnificent, glorious, and beautiful now.. imagine what it will look like perfected anew
The Hubble Telescope & Doing Something for Christ
The Pursuit of God
I love science
Resurrection Sunday: Living a life of Worship
The Sinful Heart of Man & Jesus Christ
Recipes for the Babylonian Captivity
The Paradox of Wisdom in Christianity
Good News in Untenable Circumstances
Rescue in the Labyrinth, Darkest Hour