As long as I can remember, Genesis has been my favorite book in the Bible. I love starting each home-school year off with “In the beginning God…” No matter what we’re studying, that’s where we start. That’s where the foundation for each subject is laid. Science, history, math, language arts—it all must build on that solid rock of scripture if it is to maintain any integrity within the Christian faith. And yet, so often Genesis is left out of the building of the most important subject of all, theology.
This past year I have fallen in love with Genesis even more. Once your eyes are opened to the glories of Christ as revealed on every page of scripture it’s impossible to look away. The book of Genesis from its very first words, sets the stage for the cosmic drama of redemption designed to put on display to all rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God (Eph.3:10). Two books that I have read recently highlight major redemptive themes found in the book of Genesis and trace them throughout Scripture toward their ultimate consummation realized in Jesus Christ and the kingdom in which He reigns.
In “Even Better Than Eden”, (Crossway, 2018). Nancy Guthrie traces the themes of Wilderness, the Tree, God’s Image, Clothing, the Bridegroom, Sabbath, Offspring, Dwelling Place, and the City from the Garden of Eden through the Old Testament and into the New Kingdom established by Christ. She argues that even though Eden was unsullied, it was incomplete. “From the very beginning Eden was not meant to be static; it was headed somewhere (12).” That somewhere is what both the Old and New Testament saints were looking forward to.
“You and I were meant to enjoy an environment, a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and an intimacy with God and each other that is even better than Adam and Eve enjoyed in Eden. Eden had the seeds of the new creation, but all those seeds will burst into glorious bloom in the new heaven and the new earth. When we enter the new Eden, our Sabbath rest, the final temple, the New Jerusalem, we’ll begin to experience all that God has intended for his people all along (159).”
The second book I read picks up on just one of those themes, the City, and fleshes it out in extraordinary detail. T. Desmond Alexander is the author of “The City of God and the Goal of Creation” (Crossway, 2018). This book is extremely helpful in understanding Jerusalem as the Temple-City, the Holy Mountain City, AND the Royal City as well as its archetype city, Babylon. But the book really gets exciting in its last two chapters where it delves into the future City of God, the New Jerusalem. Alexander argues that against the background of pre-fall Eden to post-fall Babel and beyond,
“The biblical story recounts how God takes the initiative to redeem people from the grip of the Evil One, gradually establishing his kingdom on the earth… The Old Testament story of Israel’s redemption from slavery in Egypt begins a process that climaxes with God coming to dwell on Mount Zion. This process provides a paradigm for understanding divine salvation, as God takes the initiative to create a holy temple-city. The events that lead to the construction of the temple in Jerusalem illustrate something of what entails salvation and how it is achieved. These events also anticipate a greater salvation that will come through a future Davidic king (164).”
That may sound just a bit heady but Alexander follows through with a beautiful application on the very next page.
“For those who are united to Jesus Christ, eternal life begins here and now, as does citizenship of the city that will one day be created by God on a renewed earth. Jesus challenges his followers to look forward in faith, to pray and work for the spread of God’s rule here and now (165).”
“Jesus Christ calls his followers to be kingdom builders here and now, but they are to do this with the confident assurance that Christ will return to address every injustice as universal judge, vindicating and punishing as appropriate. Only then with the defeat of evil will God establish New Jerusalem on a renewed earth (165).”