“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” While it is true that Genesis 1:1 is a record of God’s activity in the past, it also points to His agenda for the future. The explosive wonder of the creation story may be missed if we conclude that God created the “heavens” as His home and the “earth” as ours. If we assume such separated living arrangements, we miss the depth of damage done by sin and the blessing of restoration through grace. There is a profoundly relational flavor in the words, “Let us make mankind in our image” (Genesis 1:26). God and humanity originally had the same address: theheavensandtheearth.
The Most Expensive
In Genesis 3, the infamous table is set for the highest price ever paid for a snack. Seated at the table are Eve, her awkwardly silent husband, and the serpent. In the first recorded theological debate, Eve and the serpent sparred over God’s clearly articulated dietary boundaries.
The serpent opened with a slippery, “Did God really say…?” Upon Eve’s affirmative response, he followed with, “You will not certainly die” (3:1–4).
The first and shortest theological debate ended with Eve wiping the juice of the most expensive meal ever off her chin and handing the forbidden fruit to Adam. With a simple, disobedient swallow, theheavensandtheearth were separated into the heavens and the earth. The garden — humanity’s first home and God’s first temple — was left uninhabited. The bill for the meal was high; blessing became curse, and intimacy became separation.
The created order broke away from its intended design. Warnings were not given to be ignored (Genesis 2:16–17). Food was not made to usurp God’s authority (3:6). Hearts were not given to carry shame (3:7). Humans were not made to hide from their Maker, and bushes were not made to hide behind (3:8). Vocal cords were not made to express blame (3:12–13). Animals were not made to provide covering (3:21). The garden/temple was not made to be boarded up (3:24). The heavens and earth were not intended for distance. Everything changed, except God. His plan was now the reopening of theheavensandtheearth.
The Most Powerful
God’s glory could no longer be experienced through the intimacy of a garden. But God loved and longed for those created in His image yet damaged by rebellion. He continued to meet with His people via a tabernacle in the wilderness and then a temple on a mountain. Sin was temporarily covered through sacrifice. But God longed for the aromas and flavors of garden-like intimacy again.
His plan was to send another Adam, this one His Son. In the words of Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, “The mission of the Second Adam? To show us how to be the kind of humans God created us to be, and to bring us back into a garden relationship with God” (fmchr.ch/lsfv).
God orchestrated another feast that would cover the cost of the most expensive meal ever. It would have the aroma of grace and the flavors of new life. With the deep results of the serpent’s lies still claiming souls, this would have to be the most powerful meal ever.
The meal is recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22. During the celebration of the Passover, Jesus gathered His disciples. They remembered the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt and, without fully realizing it, they simultaneously celebrated the partial reunion of heaven and earth.
Something mysterious took place when Jesus explained that bread was His body and wine was His blood. The meal became a word picture of the final, flawless sacrifice that reopened the intimacy of the garden. Just as everyone was impacted by the most expensive meal ever, now with the most powerful meal ever, everyone is invited.
The mystery grows because as a result of what that meal represented, the new garden/temple is not made of trees, fabric or stone. God designed it so His presence could find its way into schools, factories, hospitals, grocery stores, homes and church buildings. The most powerful meal ever is strong enough to cleanse a human spirit so it becomes a dwelling for God’s Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
As recipients of God’s Spirit we find ourselves joined together in a unified mission of restoration. Christ’s followers have the honor of living and proclaiming the reality of garden living through the Christ event. We make intimacy with God visible! We receive, experience and demonstrate theheavensandtheearth.
The Most Amazing
There is another meal coming that will complete God’s task of fully undoing the effects of the most expensive meal ever. The angel announced to the Revelator, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding super of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
The most amazing meal ever will have to be held in the most amazing place ever. There will be aNEWheavenandaNEWearth where Creator and created fully share the same address again. You can taste the anticipation in Peter’s words, “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth…” (2 Peter 3:13). When the most amazing meal ever is consumed as a result of the most powerful meal ever, the most expensive meal ever will be forgotten/erased.
he Bible Project’s Timothy Mackie and Jonathan Collins summarize, “The story of the Bible is the story of heaven on earth being ripped into heaven and earth, followed by God’s glorious mission to reunite these two realms once again” (fmchr.ch/bpworkbook).
Revelation 21:1 (“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…”) is God’s Genesis 1:1 mission completed
That is the good news we are invited to experience, empowered to embody, and mandated to proclaim.
David Kessler is a husband, father and grandfather serving as the lead pastor of McPherson Free Methodist Church in McPherson, Kansas. He has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Portland Seminary, and he is excited about the new days coming for God’s people.