Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and His Glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy….. Isaiah 60:1-5
Over the past several weeks, we have looked at the salvation story of God through the words of Isaiah the prophet. In the story of the people of Israel, we find the whole story of God’s love and plan for His people. God created and established a kingdom, but His people rebelled against Him. That rebellion distanced them from God, and darkness covered the land. And yet, God in His infinite incomprehensible Love set out to rescue His broken and exiled children. He redeemed them from their captivity and brought them back to His holy dwelling–to the center of His heart. But God wasn’t (and isn’t) finished yet. There is one final promise He has made to those who call on His name–the promise of restoration.
The root of the word “restoration” is, of course, to restore. When we think of restoration, we think of fixing up old houses or bringing back endangered habitats or feeling better after a sickness. Our current operating thought about restoration is (generally) to bring something back to its original state. However, when you look at restoration from a Biblical perspective, to “restore” isn’t just to bring something back to what it once was; to “restore” really means to make something into what it was originally designed and created to be.
God didn’t rescue and redeem the people of Israel so that they could go back to the way they were before. “Before” didn’t work out so well in the long run. “Before” led to rebellion, which led to destruction and exile and isolation from God. “Before” created a cycle of events which has been playing out through the course of millenia, from the Garden of Eden to the Desert Wanderings through Exile and thousands of years of Occupation. For while the people were redeemed, they were not yet restored.
In looking back at the creation process in the book of Genesis, we see God’s ultimate design for His creation. God created all things, and God breathed His holy Spirit into His creation. God created human beings in His very own image and made His dwelling among them. There was no hunger, no sickness, no death, no fear and no shame. Everything was in perfect order, and God was at the center.
So when I think about the “restoration” God has/is/will bring, it is this that I tend to dwell on: God’s desire is to bring about His original design and plan for creation. And His original design and plan for creation was that we would dwell with Him within it and that He would be the center of all His created order.
When we celebrate the birth of Christ, it is just the beginning of the story. God came into this world to rescue, to redeem and to restore. There is a past, present and future promise to behold! “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ WILL COME again!!” Christ rescued us from the trappings of our sinful rebellion. He redeemed us with his blood. He restored us to right relationship with God and conquered death once and for all so that nothing can separate us from the Love of God.
And yet, there is more to come! God’s process of restoration is still going on! And this process of restoration isn’t some sort of spiritual, mythical, ethereal process going on in heavenly realms. God’s restoration is here and now; a real and tangible process happening on this earth and in our own lives.
While I believe in the second coming of Christ, and I believe that God will ultimately restore his creation and bring about His promise of a new heaven and new earth, I also believe that God is working His restoration process in our lives right here and right now. God is restoring His people–bringing them back to Himself. His Spirit lives and moves and breathes within us, bringing about wonderful new things in this present moment.
And so, this New Year, I want to focus on God’s restoration. Over the course of this year, I would invite you to pray about ways that God may bring His restoration to your life. I will be sharing stories of restoration with you, both from my own life and from the lives of others. I want you to share your stories, too. Whether it be a healed relationship, new health, a new career, overcoming great obstacles, overcoming addiction, recovery from grief, loss, etc….I want to see God’s restorative hand at work.
Restoration 2014–let’s see the amazing work God will bring!
Blessings and Peace,