The Need for Restoration (1)
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Genesis 1.31
“Truly, this only I have found:
That God made man upright,
But they have sought out many schemes.” Ecclesiastes 7.29
In the beginning
The world as we know it today is not what God intended in the beginning. As Neil Plantiga puts it in his book by this title, the world is “not the way it’s supposed to be.” So has God’s will been thwarted? Has His cosmic plan been undermined? Overthrown? Or has God decided that what He originally intended just isn’t going to work?
Hardly. God does not change His mind. He often adjusts His approach to accomplishing His will, as we see in the various forms His covenant takes as it unfolds throughout Scripture. God is sustaining the cosmos toward a great day of restoration, when all things will finally be made new, exactly as God intended, for His praise and glory, and unto the enormous and eternal blessing of His saints and other creatures.
For the time, however, the creation and everything in it groans and travails under foreign occupation. An enemy has invaded the field of the Lord, and he has sown seeds of waste, wickedness, and woe throughout. But the field is still the Lord’s, and His purposes for it will one day be realized. The world and all things in it have been reconciled to God by our Lord Jesus Christ. And He has given us the ministry of reconciliation, so that we might restore the world to the way it is supposed to be, if only in part, or the praise and glory of God, and the benefit of the world and its creatures.
In the beginning, God made everything in the vast cosmos very good. At that time, the world reflected the beauty, goodness, and truth of God throughout its vast extent. Creatures of all kinds abounded and flourished. A garden existed, which was both prototype and workshop for bringing greater completion and glory to the whole earth. Vast and precious resources existed to be harnessed, developed, and put to use increasing the goodness of God in all the earth. People were set to work in the garden, to extend its “very goodness” by managing and developing its resources and creatures, and bringing other humans into being to join in the work.
But those people were also assigned to guard their garden workshop (Gen. 2.15), and it was their failure in this aspect of their remit that plunged the world into its present “not the way it’s supposed to be” condition.
For the praise of God
In spite of creation’s fallen condition, God still intends that it should give Him praise and glory. This is clear from any number of psalms, especially Psalm 148.
If we had any doubts about God’s intentions for His creation, Psalm 148 should dispel those. Here God issues a blanket call to the cosmos to praise and glorify His Name. The galaxies of the heavens, angels and departed saints, sun, moon, stars, sea creatures, all kinds of weather, all sorts of topographies, trees, wild beasts, domesticated cattle, icky things and soaring things, fruits and seeds, princes and judges, men, women, and children, kings and peoples – all are commanded to give God praise and to exalt His glorious Name. This is the way it’s supposed to be, and God is still determined that it shall be so.
The way things are supposed to be is that everything and everyone in the cosmos is to declare the excellencies and goodness of God. Sin has obscured the glory and goodness of God that is throughout the creation (Ps. 33.5). But, as we see in Psalm 148, this is not what God intends. Not from the beginning of the creation, and not now. It is the glory of God to conceal Himself and His praise in the things He has made; it is the glory of His servants to bring out that glory and praise, and thus to enable all of creation to fulfill its God-intended purpose (Prov. 25.2). Our earnest desires must be to see the goodness of God bursting forth in the land of the living (Ps. 27.13).
This requires the work of restoration, which we the people of God undertake in line with God’s original design, and throughout all His creation. And God has given us His Kingdom, that our work might prosper in His grace and truth.
A Kingdom of praise and glory
David’s prayer for his son, Solomon, envisions a day when that great work of restoration will proceed apace over all the earth. Though his psalm has Solomon in view for the near term, it’s clear the larger and longer vision is for the Kingdom Jesus would bring in His coming to the earth.
Here we glimpse the Lord’s plan for His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – the very Kingdom Jesus has received and bestowed upon us, His people, that we should seek it as our highest priority in everything we do (Rom. 14.17, 18; Dan. 7.13, 14, 18; Matt. 6.33). The Kingdom of God, brought near by Jesus and bestowed in the Holy Spirit, is both the context and operative power for the work of restoration. And what David foresaw in Psalm 72 must guide us as we take up the ministry of reconciliation that has been given to us.
In David’s vision of the world being restored, all of creation and its creatures and people give praise, honor, and glory to God. Righteousness abounds, together with justice and peace (vv. 1-4). The fear of God is over all the earth, and He daily refreshes all His creatures, that they might flourish and abound (vv. 5-7). The rule of King Jesus extends throughout the earth; His enemies are helpless before Him; and the nations bring their best gifts to lay at His feet (vv. 8-11). The poor, the needy, and the helpless are lifted by His grace; multitudes come to the salvation of the Lord (vv. 12-14). The works men do abound and prosper, and the Name of the Lord is honored in all nations, for the Lord Himself brings His work of reconciliation to increasing fulfillment (vv. 15-20).
The world is in need of restoration. God intends it. His Kingdom demands it. And we are charged with this great and glorious work.
1. What are some ways we can see that sin has marred the good creation of God?
2. What are some ways you can see that the goodness of the Lord is in all the earth?
3. What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God through the work of restoration?
Next Steps – Preparation: Pray about the day ahead, and all the opportunities for restoring God’s good creation that lie ahead. Commit yourself to seeking His Kingdom in all you do.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.