Ministry of Reconciliation -- Part 4

The Gateway of Hope

Previously we have learned that the ministry of reconciliation has (at least) four parts: 1) definition; 2) reconciling ourselves to God; and 3) reconciling with other people. In this fourth and final part we will be looking at how we can be reconciled with all of creation.

Before we can see where we are going, it might be helpful to see from where we have come.
Genesis 1.27-31. God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Then God said, "Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

All of creation was in harmony with each other. People were created to reflect God's love and care into the rest of creation. There was no fear or shame. There wasn't any violence or death. There weren't even any carnivores or omnivores for both humans and non-humans alike were vegetarians.

But we know the rest of the story. Humans rebelled and the entire thing has spun out of control. Fear and shame entered the garden. Human responsibility was replaced with 'passing the buck'. Expulsion and community breakdowns occurred. The shock and horror of violence and death emerged. Simply put, sin entered creation and spread like the cancers it brought with it until all of creation was filled with violence and corruption (Gen 6.11-13). Because of this cancerous, sinful rebellion humans became so wicked that 'everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil' (Gen 6.5).

Now, if we left this story right now, it would be horrible! But we know that God did not leave it that way. God set in motion a plan that would reconcile the entire created order back to Godself. What would that look like? We are given some hints in Isaiah 65.

Isaiah 65.17, 25. “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore...The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Here we see that YHWH promised to create 'new heavens and a new earth'. This new creation does not represent a complete annilation of the current creation. The idea here is to take the existing creation and reshape it; recreate it. Notice the word 'creating'. This implies an ongoing action. God is not destroying this world. God is recreating this world. How is this being accomplished? When will it happen?
Hosea 2.14-23. "But then I will win [Israel] back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes," says the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband' instead of 'my master.' O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again. On that day I will make a covenant with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky and the animals that scurry along the ground so they will not harm you. I will remove all weapons of war from the land, all swords and bows, so you can live unafraid in peace and safety. I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.

"In that day, I will answer," says the Lord. "I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds. And the sky will answer the earth with rain. Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees. And they in turn will answer, 'Jezreel' — 'God plants!' At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called 'Not loved.' And to those I called 'Not my people,' I will say, 'Now you are my people.' And they will reply, 'You are our God!'"

This passage just oozes with New Creation! There are several things about it but I don't want to make this post longer than necessary so I will just hit the highlights. Notice the progression: YHWH woos Israel > YHWH transforms Israel > Israel will experience a New Exodus > Israel becomes YHWH's bride > YHWH makes a covenant with the animals 'so they will not harm' people > YHWH will remove 'weapons of war' so people can live in 'peace and safety' > 'Israel' will 'finally know [God] as 'Lord' > YHWH will restore creation > YHWH will 'plant a crop of Israelites' > The 'Gentiles' will become YHWH's people.

Please be aware once more of a transformation and not a destruction/creation. This is a re-creation of the cosmos. It starts with the winning of Israel. When will that happen? It already did! That is what the New Testament is all about. God sent Jesus at just the 'right time' to woo Israel; to purchase her and her children from their captives (Gal 4.4-7). Jesus was the new Moses (Acts 3.22ff; 7.37) leading the people out of bondage into a new way of being Israel; into a new way of being truly human (Matt 4.19; 9.9; 16.24; John 1.43; 8.12; 12.26; 21.19-22).

So when does new creation begin? It, too, has already begun! This took place at his resurrection. John wrote that Jesus was raised on the eighth day the 'first day' of New Creation (John 20.1, 19). Jesus was seen as the 'gardener' (John 20.15) -- just like Adam (Gen 2.15). St Paul wrote that Jesus is the 'last Adam' (1Cor 15.45). The New Testament states that the resurrected Jesus is 'the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation' (Rev 3.14).

Furthermore, Paul quoted Hosea 2 in Romans 9. There, his point is that YHWH extends grace and mercy to anyone God wishes. This grace even extends to the 'Gentiles' (those people who were not natural Jews). This incoming of the Gentiles into the 'Israel of God' (Gal 6.16) is, according to Paul, fulfilling Hosea 2. What does this mean? It means that Christians are part of God's New Creation (2Cor 5.17). It means that Christians are to be praying that God's kingdom, God's New Creation, will come 'on earth' as it is in heaven (Matt 6.10). It means that Christians are to be implementing New Creation now (John 20.21-23). It means that the only thing that matters now is New Creation (Gal 6.15).

Therefore, if the only thing that matters now is implementing God's New Creation, i.e., since it is already started we should be coming up with ways of expanding it 'on earth' as in heaven, what should we do? I think that the list from Hosea is a great place to start. We need to treat the earth with respect, letting her replenish from our use of her (Lev 25.2-7). We need to show the non-human creation the same love and compassion as we do the human creation. YHWH cares for the birds and flowers (Luke 12.22-34) therefore so should we (as you know, for me, this includes not eating meat). We need to come up with peaceful means to end disputes with our enemies all the while knowing that we are commanded to 'love our enemies' and 'do good to them who hate [us]' (Luke 6.27-36).

Lastly, I realize the above paragraph is so short on application. It's because this is the improvisational part of our story. Each moment brings new challenges; new opportunities to implement God's New Creation. We need to pray. We need to listen. We need to act. We are now 'priests' of God. We are called to reflect God's love in everything we do or say. We are to be the Word (of Jesus) made flesh.

Peace be with you.

+ OD

<-- Go to Part 3 or Go to Part 1 -->


Pinball said…
Brother, you need to write a book. You see things that many people miss. And the people who do see them don't put them the way you do. I'm moved to tears when I read these posts.
odysseus said…
Thank you, Brother. 'Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow'. Even my little blog.
Anglican said…
Well done. Always a blessing to read your latest offerings.
odysseus said…
Thanks, Anglican.

On a [supposedly] completely unrelated note, how is that new beast of a computer for you? Have you put a linux distro on a spare partition yet?
Anglican said…
The new PC is great, though I've been so busy with work and other things that I haven't been able to spend much time on it lately. No Linux distro yet. I have an 80G drive in there that will be totally devoted to some flavor of Linux. Leaning toward Ubuntu, but you could talk me out of that and back into PCLOS.
Ted M. Gossard said…
Thanks OD. Good stuff.

Popular Posts