Meditating on the Will of God: 30: The Big Picture
1 Cor 15:24,25 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
In the previous meditations we suggested they could be summed up by the question, “What is it that God wants?” and said there is a ‘big-picture’ answer to that and a ‘small-picture’ answer. We looked at the small-picture answer, so now let’s finish with the big-picture answer. In the small picture we focused on our individual salvation, what God wants to work out in us but now we look at the whole scope of time-space history as the Bible reveals it.
The opening of the Bible revelation is the Creation. The godhead had existed in eternity before that, but that defies our minds. There came a point where God created time-space history and all that we know came into being. Whether it was in an instant or over billions of years is irrelevant – God made it. And the record is that He looked at it and it was very good (Gen 1:31). Within that creation He made a man and a woman and gave them free will and they used it to disregard God’s instructions in what we call the Fall and from that moment Sin was in the world – godless self-centredness. Its effect was to alienate man from God and from then on there was human strife and the world was changed.
Within that Fall we were introduced to Satan who we later find is a fallen angel. Although the record is not extensive it is clear that there were many more angels and a third of them were led astray by Satan and have been cast out of heaven and dwell on earth. As human beings move under the power of Sin so they are vulnerable to the suggestions and temptations of these beings and power bases are built up around the world ruled over by powers and principalities, and Satan is allowed dominion over sinful mankind.
Yet wherever a man or woman turns to God, He is there for them. In fact He built a relationship with Abram, then Isaac and then Jacob and then the whole nation of Israel. The Old Testament is a record of His dealings with them. It is a murky record with high points and many low points as the sin of mankind is attested to again and again through this nation.
Then some two thousand years ago, in accordance with a plan formulated within the godhead before time began, the Son of God left heaven and was revealed as a baby born to a woman. He grew and at the age of thirty moved out into public ministry, gathering around him a band of followers he trained up to continue his work. In those three years he revealed the love and goodness of the godhead, but then he was crucified as a criminal, but an innocent one, as God’s lamb, acting as a sacrifice to carry the sins of mankind. Then he rose from the dead, taught his followers for some five or six weeks and then ascended back to heaven. About ten days later His Holy Spirit fell on his followers and the Church was born.
From that point on – in the age of the Church – he works by His Spirit to save people, as many as will heed him. Yet as history develops, despite him coming again and again in revival power, the sin of mankind on earth seems to increase. As Jesus oversees these end times, he allows plagues and destructions to come and yet, despite this, mankind refuses to repent and turn to him: “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood–idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Rev 9:20,21) and also Rev 16:9-11.
As the sinfulness of mankind reaches breaking point the Son of God returns in power – see Rev 19:11-16. He conquers and subdues the earth. But then, wonder of wonders, it appears there will be a thousand year period of life on the earth free from Satan’s interference (Rev 20:1-3) after which he will be released for a while, almost it seems as if to make the point about the vulnerability of mankind, many of whom follow him again, only to be judged in a final winding up time (Rev 20:7-10) and then will come a final judgment where all who have ever existed stand before God to be judged (Rev 20:11-15).
When that is finished God makes all things new. A new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1,2) and a new Jerusalem where God dwells with His saints for ever more. This is the big picture. Whether the things of Revelation are symbolic or not, the message is clear: God is in charge and He gives mankind chance after chance to come to Him, to receive forgiveness, cleansing and adoption. In His timing, at appropriate times He will intervene in the affairs of the world and bring it to an end as we know it now. His ultimate goal is His rule so that peace reigns without the interference of Satan and Sin. Everything will be subject to Him (as it is now without realizing it) but even death will be gone and there will be a beyond-time existence where He enjoys His people and they enjoy Him.
That is the final state and that is what He is working towards. While He is still working we have opportunity to respond to Him but that, as always is a limited time; it is limited to within the timescale and events we have been considering, and it is limited to the time that we have individually on the earth and, of course, we never know how long that will be. The call is always to repent of godless self-centredness and turn to God to seek His forgiveness, cleansing and adoption and receive the power that goes with that to live new lives – but that has taken us back into the ‘small picture’ again. That is a tiny microcosm in the ‘big picture’ but for us it is critical. He IS ruling and He is working towards an end and at some time Jesus will return carrying the names, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:16) for thus the Father has designated him. May we bow and worship him, for this is the will of God as He makes His Son the focus for us: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11) Hallelujah!