Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Story of God | Heaven and Earth from The Bible Project by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins

Emmaus City Heaven and Earth The Bible Project Story of God Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

The Bible Project | Heaven and Earth: God Reuniting Both is What the Story of the Bible is All About 



The Story of God: The Messiah


The Story of God: The Covenants

For this post, I'm including a video and the manuscript for an Animated Explanation of Heaven and Earth by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins via The Bible Project, a wonderful new and free video series on YouTube.

Animated Explanation of Heaven and Earth by The Bible Project

Produced by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins



 So in the Bible, the ideas of heaven and earth are ways of talking about "God space" and "our space." 

So I understand our space really well. We live here. There's trees, rivers, mountains. But my understanding of "God space" gets a little fuzzy. And we do get in the Bible are images trying to help us grasp "God space," which is basically inconceivable to us. These are two very different types of spaces. 

Yes, they're different in their nature, but, here's what's really interesting. In the Bible, these are not always separate spaces, so think of heaven and earth like different dimensions that can overlap in the same exact space. 

We talk a lot about "going to heaven after we die," but this idea of heaven and earth overlapping, we don't talk a lot about that, which is kind of crazy because the union of heaven and earth is what the story of the Bible is all about, how they were once fully united, and then driven apart, and how God is bringing them back together once again. 

So then let's go back to the beginning where heaven and earth are completely overlapping. This is what the Bible's description of the Garden of Eden is all about. It's a place where God and humanity dwelt together perfectly with no separation and humans then partnered with God in building a beautiful, flourishing world and so on. But as humans we wanted to do things a different way. We wanted God out and we wanted to create a world apart from him. 

So we have these two spaces now and the Bible actually uses lots of different kinds of words and phrases to refer to these two spaces to make a clear distinction; earth: present age, the age of sin and death, the world and heaven: the kingdom of God, eternal life.


Emmaus City Heaven and Earth The Bible Project Story of God Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

So you've said that these spaces can overlap? So explain how that works. This is where we have to start talking about temples because in the biblical world you experience God's presence by going to a temple. That's where heaven and earth overlap. 

There are two types of temples described in the Bible. One is a tabernacle, basically a tent that was built by Moses. And the other was this massive building made by Solomon. And these temples were decorated with fruit trees and flowers and images of angels and all kinds of gold and jewels and so on. These are designed to make you feel like you're going back to the garden. And at the center of the temple was a place called the Holy of Holies, which was like the "hot spot" of God's presence. Now we can go and be with God again.

But not so fast, because the temple also creates a problem. God's space is full of his presence and goodness and justice and beauty, but human space is full of sin and injustice and ugliness as a result. So how do these spaces overlap if they're so different and they're in conflict with each other?

This was resolved through animal sacrifice. Yeah, that's kind of weird. What do animal sacrifices have to do with this? The idea is this. Animal sacrifices  somehow they absorb the sin when the animal dies in your place. And it creates a "clean space," so to speak, where you are now free to enter into the temple and be in God's presence.  

So if I'm an Israelite and I live in Jerusalem, I might be able to be in God's presence. But you said the story of the Bible is about all heaven and earth reuniting. So we have to keep going in the story to where we come to Jesus in the New Testament. In the gospel of John we hear this claim that God became human in Jesus and "made his dwelling among us." Now this word "dwelling" is really curious. Literally, it means he set up a tabernacle among us. And so what John is claiming right here is that Jesus is a temple. He is now the place where heaven and earth overlap. 
Emmaus City Heaven and Earth The Bible Project Story of God Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities
What's interesting about Jesus is that he isn't staying in this safe, clean space. He's running around hanging out with sinners. He's healing people of their sicknesses and forgiving people of their sins. He's basically creating little pockets of heaven where people can be in God's presence, but he's doing it out there in the middle of the world of sin and death. And he keeps telling everyone that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. And he even told his followers to pray regularly that God's Kingdom come, his will be done here on earth just as it is in heaven.

But a lot of people here are threatened by Jesus and they kill him, which seems to spoil this whole plan to reunite heaven and earth. But we have to go back to a scene earlier on in Jesus' story where John the Baptist saw Jesus and said, "Behold! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" So Jesus isn't just talked about as being a temple. He's also talked about as being the temple sacrifice. So the cross is now the place where Jesus absorbs sin to create a clean space that is not limited like animal sacrifices. Jesus' sacrifice has the power to keep spreading and spreading and reuniting more and more of heaven and earth.


Emmaus City Heaven and Earth The Bible Project Story of God Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

And this is all really great, but it leaves one question in mind which is, "What happens when I die?" Don't I just fly over to God space to be with Jesus? So a few times in the New Testament we learn that Christians will be with Jesus in heaven after they die. But that is not the focus of the Bible's story. The focus is on how heaven and earth are being reunited through Jesus and will be completely brought together one day when he returns. 

So in the book of Revelation, we get this beautiful image of the Garden of Eden now in the form of a city coming to end the age of sin and death by redeeming all of human history in a renewed creation and God space and human space completely overlap once again.

Next post: The Story of God | God's Holiness from The Bible Project by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins

 – Sully

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