Plot

by Phillip Yancey

In its “plot,” the story of the Bible ends up very much where it began. The broken relationship between God and human beings has healed over at last, and the curse of Genesis 3 is lifted. Borrowing images from Eden, Revelation pictures a river and a tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2). But this time a great city replaces the garden setting—a city filled with worshipers of God. No death or sadness will ever darken that scene. When we awake in the new heaven and new earth, we will have at last a happy ending.

Heaven is not an afterthought or an optional belief. It is the final justification of all creation. The Bible never belittles human tragedy and disappointment—is any book more painfully honest?—but it does add one key word: temporary. What we feel now, we will not always feel. The time for re-creation will come.

For people who feel trapped in pain or in a broken home, in economic misery or in fear—for all of us—heaven promises a timeless future of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace. The Bible begins with the promise of a Redeemer in the book of Genesis (3:15) and ends with that same promise (Rev. 21:1-7)—a guarantee of future reality. The end will be the beginning.

Beyond earth’s sorrows, the joys of heaven;
Eternal blessings with Christ my Lord;
Earth’s weeping ended, earth’s trials over,
Sweet rest in Jesus, O blest reward! —Gilmore

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