10) The Future: Where Are We Heading?

So, how does the story of the Bible end? It’s best to think back to the beginning…. In the beginning, God creates… and in the end, he’s still creating! See, ‘I am making everything new!’ (Rev 21:5). The story of the Bible isn’t the story of humanity (although we feature throughout), and it’s not the story of Israel or the Church (although both play a prominent part). The Bible is God’s grand narrative of his world progressing from creation to new creation. It so happens that human beings take centre-stage; quite possibly because we wrote it! If another Bible were written by porcupines or sea cucumbers, it might read very differently.

Furthermore, God chose to write us humans into the story as ‘rulers over creation’, to be his image-bearers and ambassadors. But we blew it, becoming sinners and exploiters instead. So the sub-plot of the Bible is how God (through an exceedingly long, arduous, journey) gets humans back on track. That sub-plot runs from rebellion to God’s covenant with Abraham, to Israel and the entire OT, culminating in the coming of Jesus – but that’s not the end. From there, the old story transforms into a new story – where the ‘good news’ of Jesus goes out to every nation on earth – ‘and then the end will come’ (Mat 24:14).

Jesus preached about a Kingdom, but he didn’t establish that Kingdom when he came. Instead, he promised he would come again. The gospel needed time to spread. Some of Paul’s letters hint at that future expectation – of Christ’s return (1Thes4), the resurrection of believers (1Cor15), the healing of creation (Rom8). The ‘General Epistles’ written by other authors to the scattered saints expand further: the ‘Day of the Lord’ (2Pet2-3), anti-Christs (1Jn1), judgement (Jude). But the one book that truly reveals God’s plan for the future is aptly called ‘Revelation’.

Revelation is a unique and complex book; a letter, a prophecy, a vision, all rolled into one – written through John’s visionary experience in the form of a great cosmic drama filled with symbolism. But the climax is the coming of Christ at the last trumpet! ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord… and he will reign for ever and ever’ (Rev11:15, 19:11). A kingdom takes time to establish – until ultimately heaven and earth are united (made new), and God at last comes to dwell with his people (21:3).

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