This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “King & Country: The Story That Changes Everything,” coming in summer 2017.
The end of the biblical story, the end to which all of history is being moved by the sovereign hand of history’s Author, is the resurrection of all things. In the end, Easter overtakes every grave, every galaxy, and every grain of sand. A new heaven and new earth will shake off the old creation’s ashes, and into this glory the church will rise victorious, clothed in splendor, to reign alongside her Savior and King.
Try to picture what this resurrection means for human culture and community and civilization. In our world today, humanity has accomplished truly incredible things, even shackled by division, infighting, folly, and death. The pyramids, the Parthenon, the Great Wall, Mona Lisa, Handel’s Messiah, the moon landing, and more, all stand as testaments of the undying image of God stamped on our souls. Revelation 22 speaks of “the glory and honor of the nations” being brought into the New Jerusalem, a picture of everything good and beautiful we’ve ever accomplished as image-bearers incorporated into the new creation. Now imagine the shackles removed. Imagine what humanity will be capable of then. Imagine what technology could be when nothing breaks or is ever twisted into sinful purposes. Imagine the heights to which art and music will reach when they are fully liberated from bondage to sin and brokenness.
Imagine what our cities would be like with no crime or trash or ghettos or poverty. Imagine what economies and industries will be when they are no longer fueled by need but gladness, not greed but generosity. Imagine communities where diversity is not feared but celebrated, where love and kindness directs every interaction. Imagine every source of injustice that plagues our courts and culture banished forever from the human heart and replaced by mercy, justice, and humility. Imagine friendships where the command of Romans 12:10—“Outdo one another in showing honor”—is finally fulfilled in a beautifully virtuous cycle of escalating honor forever. This is the society our souls long for.
Zoom the lens of your imagination out further and envision an entirely resurrected world. The prophets viewed the goal of history as not just the end of exile for God’s people, but for the entire creation as well. Isaiah writes:
You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of thorns shall come up cypress trees; instead of briers shall come up myrtle flowers; and it shall make a name for the LORD. (Isaiah 55:12-13)
The end goal of history is all creation released from bondage to futility, coming alive and rising to meet the joy of God’s redeemed people. The whole universe, now groaning under the chains of the curse, will one day pulsate with such gladness that it will be as if the trees themselves are singing songs of praise. Instead of bucking against humanity with thorns and death, the earth will yield to its image-bearing masters and bring forth beauty that will redound to the praise of the One who made it. Today, the most beautiful scenery on earth—mountains, waterfalls, tropical islands—are like a blurred and faded photograph that cannot begin to compare with the glory that will one day be revealed. The ruination across the globe wrought by human selfishness—scarred landscapes, polluted waters, toxic waste, pillaged wilderness, expanded deserts—will be reversed, and everything will be made beautiful again. God will avenge the rape of his world; “the time has come for destroying the destroyers of the earth,” Revelation 11:18 says. Ezekiel writes, “This land that was desolate will become like the garden of Eden” (Ezekiel 36:35)—and Eden will fill the whole planet.
The new creation will usher in the permanent end of sadness. We were not made to grieve, which is why our souls protest so strongly against pain. One day, all the hurt will end. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,” Revelation 21 assures us. “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Psalm 30:5 says that, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” This, at long last, is the morning of joy that scatters weeping’s night forever. “Reality,” writes Scott Sauls, “will be rescued once and for all from the nightmares.” This broken, wailing world will be restored, and everything sad will come untrue.
This resurrected, beautified, restored creation is the world we were made to inhabit, the home we long for, the happy ending we have been searching for our entire lives. Randy Alcorn writes, “To be in resurrected bodies on a resurrected Earth in resurrected friendships, enjoying a resurrected culture with the resurrected Jesus—now that will be the ultimate party! Everybody will be who God made them to be—and none of us will ever suffer or die again.”