In this post I would like to cover God’s Redemptive Plan for the Human Race. It’s going to be a journey through time, starting about 6,000 years ago in the Garden of Eden, straight through to the present day and into the future.
The Fall of Man
So let’s start at the beginning in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve fell into temptation and sin and broke the eternal covenant relationship that God had intended for them. But before we look at what happened in the Garden of Eden let’s make our first point that is foundational to the rest of this post and that point is, why were Adam and Eve originally created? If we can find the answer to this question then we will also answer the wider question of what is our original purpose. Well since we’ll be starting in Genesis let’s make our start there and we do indeed find our answer.
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
So the first part of why Adam and Eve were created was to be caretakers of creation and rule over it. The second part of why Adam and Eve were created is found in Genesis chapter 3 which details their fall into sin but also highlights God’s relationship with them and it makes it clear that Adam and Eve were design to have relationship with God. So why were Adam and Eve created? To take care of His creation, to populate the earth and to have a relationship with God. Consequently this is our purpose too.
But this relationship was broken when Adam and Eve sinned and because God is Holy and cannot stand sin (Habakkuk 1:13a, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong….”) then He (God) had to evict Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
Well let’s look at Genesis chapter 3 and read the account of the fall.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
Therefore what is God’s redemptive plan for us? Since Adam & Eve broke their relationship with God, how was God going to restore His relationship with Mankind? Let’s continue reading Genesis 3 and we’ll pick up from verses 13-15,
“Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.””
So here we have the fall of Mankind and God’s redemptive plan outlined in verse 15. What was the plan? What was God saying in verse 15? Let’s read that verse again,
“And I will put enmity between you (He was referring to the serpent who was satan) and the woman, (that is Eve) and between your offspring and hers;
(in other words God was saying that He would put enmity or hostility between all of the fallen angels and unbelievers (John 8:44) and Jesus Christ and believers)
he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
It is here that God outlines His redemptive plan for humanity. God says, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” What was God referring to? Here God is saying that the seed of Eve, that is Christ, would deal a fatal blow to the head of Satan, which we know was Christ defeating death on the cross but satan would bruise Christ’s heal, or cause Christ to suffer, which was His suffering on the cross.
So let’s just take a moment to review what has happened here. Man was originally created to take care of His creation, to populate the earth and to have a relationship with God; Man sinned and broke that relationship and God foretells of how is going to restore His relationship with Man. Man cannot restore his relationship with God, only God can.
C.S. Lewis once said,
“We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin.”–The Problem of Pain.
The point C.S. Lewis was making is that the gravity of sin does not diminish over time. The sin of Adam and Eve in the garden was not going to simply go away rather their sin, our sin, requires atonement.
Also because of sin now in the world the whole of now creation groans because it is cursed and it cannot entirely fulfil its created purpose (Romans 8:20-22, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.). Of course Creation will not fully be restored or liberated until Christ returns and rules on the Earth.
So we have seen the start of God’s plan to restore His relationship with us but how was this to be realised? How was God going to bring into being from the offspring of Eve the one who was to restore or redeem God’s relationship with us?
Well let’s now look at the account of the flood in Genesis chapter 6. Mankind has gone its own way and has become so evil in only 10 generations from Adam that God has to wipe all living creatures from the face of the Earth.
“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”
In only 1656 years God had to effectively start again with the only man and his family that were still righteous in His eyes. So out of Noah’s family line God brought about His redemptive plan for Mankind and He did this through Shem, the son of Noah. However, before we see who this was let us just look at what Man did after the flood.
The Tower of Babel
After the flood God told Man to “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it” (Genesis 9:7) but instead of spreading out throughout the Earth we read that a man called Nimrod built several cities in the plains (the land of Shinar, Genesis 10:8-10, modern day Iraq) where Noah’s descendants had settled and instead of learning to obey God they did completely the opposite. The leader of all Mankind, Nimrod, built one city called Babel and in that city he started building a tower that was to reach heaven and be safe from any flood that God might bring upon the Earth again,
“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.””
Nimrod built this city and tower of Babel somewhere between 1757 to 1996 years after creation, only a couple of hundred years after the flood. This was open rebellion before God. God said go into all the Earth, Humanity said no! Man said let us make a name for ourselves, in other words let’s build a tower that represents Man’s achievement, Man’s pride and Man’s glory without God and should God try to stop us with a flood again, well we’ll all just go to the top of the tower out of the way of the flood waters!
The point here is that God had promised not to flood the world again (Genesis 9:13-15) in order to judge Mankind for his wickedness so He did something very clever that would force all people to spread throughout the Earth and in doing so He would hold back His judgement; He confused their language. Once everybody had assembled themselves into Nations and spread throughout the Earth, God would only have to judge those Nations that are being sinful as opposed to the whole of Humanity. Very much like watertight compartments in a boat.
So here we have the birth of the Nations and God chose one Nation out of the many to bring His blessing and His ultimate redemptive plan for humanity from the descendants of Noah, Noah’s son Shem. Genesis 11 records the genealogy of Shem’s descendants down to a man called Abram.
Now the remarkable thing about Abram, or Abraham as he was renamed by God, was that he was not a Jew or a Hebrew. We read in Genesis 11:27-28 where Abram grew up and of what ethnicity he was at that time,
“This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.”
So Abram was a Chaldean as it says in Acts 7:2-4,
“To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran….”
So Abram was a Gentile, more specifically he was a Chaldean and he was an idolater (Joshua 24:2). Up until this point in history, Jews did not exist. So how did Jews come into existence? Through this man Abram. God called Abram and said to him,
“The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
We call this promise that God gave to Abram; the Abrahamic Covenant. A covenant is simply a legal agreement between two people, two parties or one person and a party. It is simply a legal agreement. This covenant God made with Abram and his descendants God has never rescinded it. We read that God calls Abram out of the land of the Chaldeans and into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land (Genesis 12:5-6). Through Abram God creates a Nation that will be His witness in all the Earth, which will be His mouthpiece, His blessing to all Nations and through whom God brings about His plan of redemption and salvation. To this Nation, the Jews, God gave the calling, the blessings, the Law and the covenant.
Jesus Christ’s Mission
Ok, so that was the first part of God’s plan of redemption, to bring forth a Nation that would act as His voice to the Nations of the earth and from the line of Abraham bring forth His plan of salvation. So let us now fast forward 2000 years from Abraham to the death of Jesus on the cross, the next phase in God’s plan of redemption.
Jesus himself told a parable in Luke 13 of His mission. Now in this parable we have three characters, the owner of the vineyard, which is Jesus, the keeper or dresser or the vineyard, which is the Holy Spirit and a fig tree, which is Israel. Let’s read it,
“Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
(So Jesus for three whole years had been looking for repentance from His chosen Nation Israel but they had not repented nor had they recognised that their King was among them as John the Baptist had started proclaiming 6 ½ years before that time.)
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ “
God in His grace gave the Nation of Israel one more year to repent and recognise Jesus Christ as the messiah but they did not and half way through that year they murdered Him. Jesus was of course raised and for forty days He continued to preach the kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-3). But at the end of the fourth year God looked for a sign of repentance but the Jews continued to completely rejected Jesus Christ and He looked He saw Stephen on trial before the high priest and the council. Stephen of course was the first martyr; the Jews murdered Stephen for proclaiming the fact that they had rejected Jesus as messiah. Once again the Jews rejected God’s plan. However, despite the Jews putting Jesus to death and completely rejecting Jesus as messiah, God in His fore knowledge ordained that Jesus would die on the exact day that God had planned for Him to be the saviour of the whole world. Now God brought into being, forty days after Jesus’ death, the next part of His plan of redemption for all the Nations.
When the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, instead of God pouring out His spirit on the Jews as was prophesied in Joel 2:27-29,
“Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the LORD your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed. (Or confused)
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
(Specifically all Jewish people)
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the LORD will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the LORD has said,
among the survivors
whom the LORD calls.”
Now we would have never had connect this prophecy with what actually happened at Pentecost had not Peter stood up and said,
“When the day of Pentecost came, they (that is the 120 disciples) were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (which is other languages, not goggle-de-gook as some might make out, which is why those stood observing the disciples understood the them in their own language) as the Spirit enabled them.”
“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “
“And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
But Joel leaves out the last part of verse 21. Why? Because when God showed up to bless Israel they had not repented and had not recognised Jesus as messiah but God kept His side of the promise and did something glorious, he gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit and brought the church into existence. Now everyone could enjoy a personal relationship with the living God and we can be redeemed to God, through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. Why did God do this? To provoke His people to jealousy,
“Again I ask: Did they (that is, the Jews) stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”
Of course does this mean that God has done away with the Jews His Nation altogether? No of course not. Paul answers this question also in Romans 11:1-2,
“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.”
God foreknew that Israel would reject the messiah and He brought into being a Nation that was set apart for Him but was in every Nation (John 15:18-19). That is the church.
So how do we sum up God’s Plan of Redemption for Humanity?
- We were created to have relationship with God
- Sin broke that relationship
- God creates Nations at the Tower of Babel
- God calls Abraham to bring His line of salvation
- Through Abraham, Israel blesses the Nations and act as His voice on the Earth
- Israel rejected Jesus as messiah but God brought in the church
- We are redeemed to God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit (John 14:6)
Jesus is coming again, this time to judge the Nations.