I have long been fascinated by Peter’s words to the Jews in Acts 3 following the healing of the lame man at the Temple gate. After declaring that this miracle was done through faith in Jesus’ name, he said, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19–21).
A time is coming when God is going to restore everything in this world back to the perfection of its starting point!
According to a highly respected lexicon, the idea of restoration here can be understood as ‘restoring all things to perfection’ or ‘to their starting points.’1 How amazing is that! Think about it—a time is coming when God is going to restore everything in this world back to the perfection of its starting point! Only God could execute such an incredible plan! As we eagerly anticipate its coming blessing, come with me on a brief study of the first and last books of the Bible which demonstrate the need for restoration and detail the amazing symmetry of biblical prophecy!
The best place to start is by asking, ‘How did we get to the point where restoration is so desperately needed?’ To answer this question, we need to go back to the opening words of Genesis, which tell us, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (1:1). This unambiguous declaration is then followed by details of an incredible six-day creative process that culminated in the creation of mankind. As God finished His great work, we are told, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (v. 31). Notice, it wasn’t just “good” but “very [wholly, especially, utterly] good.” This was a place where sin was nowhere to be found and our first parents, Adam and Eve, lived in perfect harmony with their Maker. This was the starting point! But this original perfection was not to last.
First Judgment/Satan’s Power
Genesis 3 introduces us to a powerful angel (later given the name Satan) who, in exercising his own defiant will, came to Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent, and through deception and lies, cast doubt on the goodness of God towards them. This lying temptation resulted in their subsequent disobedience and the loss of intimate relationship with God. We later learn that Satan had been “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… [and he was] in Eden, the garden of God…[where] iniquity was found in [him]” (Ezekiel 28:11, 13, 15).
From that time, things were no longer ‘good’ in any enduring sense, and when God came near to the people He had made, “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lᴏʀᴅ God” (Genesis 3:8). Up to that point, in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had unfettered access to the Tree of Life (2:9) whose fruit evidently provided constant regeneration and healing of the body and, thus, endless life (3:22). But now, with their disobedience came banishment from that blessing and the devastating judgment that universal mortality would come upon both man (v. 19) and animal (Romans 8:20–22). This was the start of the sad history of human sin and its subsequent judgment.
As generations passed, the sin of the vast majority of the ancients was so widespread that the Bible declares, “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
This proliferation of sin in God’s (once-perfect) creation ultimately resulted in a worldwide flood that brought judgment, destruction from God, and an end to life as man knew it (v. 7). Only eight people (Noah and his family) survived this cataclysmic event! Nevertheless, as the survivors spread out to form a new world, it was not long before sin again reached new heights, under the leadership of Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod.
In Genesis 10, we are told about Nimrod: “a mighty one on the earth,” “a mighty hunter,” “the beginning of his kingdom was Babel… in the land of Shinar” (vv. 8–10). Some translations go so far as to suggest he was the world’s first powerful leader,2 and considering the kingdoms he founded—Babylon and Assyria—such a claim is certainly reasonable. But it was what he did at Babel that makes him most memorable in infamy!
In league with his people, they built a tower that would act both as a symbol of their emerging power (“let us make a name for ourselves,” 11:4), and as a counter to God’s command to “fill the earth,” (9:1), “lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (11:4). In other words, by their actions they declared that they did not need or want God to rule over them! In response, God dealt with their rebellion and pride by confusing their languages, stopping their city-building, and scattering them out from there “over the face of all the earth” (11:7–9).
Jesus: The Turning Point
As millennia passed, only a remnant sought a relationship with God. But God had a plan for the redemption and the ultimate restoration of His creation. He sovereignly chose a race of people to represent Him before the nations—the Jews. As the centuries passed, through these people, God sent Jesus the Messiah to atone for mankind’s sin and reconcile us back to Him. Through Messiah’s death, burial, resurrection, and present intercession at the right hand of the Father, He has brought life and relationship to multiplied millions down through the past 2,000 years.
Through Messiah’s death, burial, resurrection, and present intercession at the right hand of the Father, He has brought life and relationship to multiplied millions down through the past 2,000 years.
But, not all have accepted Jesus and, as a consequence, Satan’s influence is still seen in the world, and sadly, in increasing measure. John observed even in his lifetime that, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). But, it’s from this point, according to biblical prophecy, that we start to see the amazing symmetry of the Scriptures!
Revelation tells of the events of the end times, and chapters 17—18 bring us back to “Babylon” having risen again! And, just as with the original tower of Babel, there are both religious and commercial aspects to this future city. The false prophet who will support the coming Antichrist heads up a religious organization described as “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth” (Revelation 17:5). This false and wicked system will be responsible for the death of many of God’s people with an insatiable desire for more (v. 6).
At the same time, “Babylon the great” is also a commercial system which brings great wealth to its adherents who have accepted the rule and worship of the Antichrist (18:3) and, as with the original, its destruction will be complete (vv. 20–24)! And while worldwide judgment had preceded the “tower of Babel,” in the symmetry of biblical prophecy, now worldwide judgment follows the fall of “Babylon the great,” as Jesus returns to Earth.
Final Judgment/Satan’s Punishment
With the Second Coming of Messiah, all those who were held in the sway of Satan now face the wrath of Almighty God. Jesus will come with great power and glory and His enemies will be destroyed (19:11–21). Even those who escape at that time will face judgment as Jesus judges the nations and removes those unworthy (the “goats”) from entering the Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 25:41, 46).
Jesus will come with great power, and glory and His enemies will be destroyed.
Even Satan will be confined! Where once Satan had been free to exercise his own will, he will now be confined and powerless to tempt or deceive mankind for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1–3). And while we’re told he will be released for a short time at the conclusion of the 1,000 years, his final judgment and eternal punishment is certain (vv. 7–10)!
Perfect New Creation
Restoration now becomes a reality for the people of God as the blessed, eternal state comes into being. John wrote: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth…” (21:1). With these words, reminding us of the original creation, we are introduced to the perfect (restored) new world with God again dwelling with man (v. 3). The New Jerusalem will descend from heaven (v. 2), and restoration will move towards its ultimate completion.
Adam and Eve in their state before the fall had lived a full life, free from the terrible destruction and pain of separation from God they ultimately brought on themselves. But now, in the eternal state, God will restore this perfection, for He “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (v. 4). This will all take place in an incredible, almost indescribable city of God (vv. 10–26).
One more incredible display of God’s restoration symmetry is seen in the Tree(s) of Life growing beside the river of life coming from the throne room (22:1–2). Adam was barred from this tree when he sinned, but now, in the restoration of all things, “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse” (vv. 2–3). And all who are there—you and I and all the faithful of all generations—“shall see His face, and His name shall be on [our] foreheads” (v. 4).
All praise and honor and worship be to Almighty God! Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming back from heaven, and in that wondrous time we will see Him and share with Him “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21).
1 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (W. Bauer, W, Arndt, F.W. Gingrich) Univ of Chicago Press, 1979, 92.
2 CJB; ESV; CEB for example.