The God Who Gathers

"And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Genesis 15:5

"And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Genesis 15:5

The God Who Gathers, Renews, and Sends

For Novum everything begins with the Bible as a story that narrates a movement from creation to new creation. When we read the end of the story (Revelation 21–22:5), we find that it sounds a lot like the beginning (Genesis 1–2)—only the end is better. Consider how the imagery below reveals that the new creation of Revelation is actually better than the original creation and the Garden of Eden:

  • There is no more darkness or night, but only light and day as God and the Lamb are the light of the new creation
  • The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is no longer there, only the Tree of Life  
  • The gates of the city remain open, never to be shut because no enemy remains to challenge God’s rule

New creation is better than the world was before the fall! This suggests that even before sin entered the world God’s goal was always new creation. It would be great if the path from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 were a straightforward, clear path from Point A to Point B. But sin entered the world, which makes for a bumpy ride on the way to new creation. Getting there is still possible, even inevitable, because God is unrelenting in his pursuit of making all things new. You can discover more of this story for yourself here and learn more of the importance of new creation here.

Just as important to Novum’s mission is how God moves the story along and pursues new creation. If we as the people of God find ourselves within this story, and if he invites us to join him in his mission, then it is not enough simply to state that God is making all things new (although that is rather foundational), we must ask the question, “How is he making all things new?” At least, we must ask the how question if we want to respond faithfully to hearing the story. This week, therefore, we set out to discover how God continues to pursue new creation and frame our mission and vision in light of this discovery.

The story of Abraham will provide the map for our journey. His story provides a window into the whole of the biblical narrative through which we can see that God makes all things new as he . . .

Gathers a people to himself;

Renews the people’s relationship with himself and with one another; and

Sends a renewed people out on mission

The Good News of a God Who Gathers

When we get to the story of Abraham, curse has really ruled the day up to this point in the biblical narrative. Think of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah. In spite of the blessing of God, disobedience brings curse(s). Bright beginnings, dark endings. But the piling up of “blessing” language in Genesis 12:1–3 when God shows up and speaks to Abram signals a shift in the narrative.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God is doing something new through Abram. God is going to bless all nations by gathering all the families of the earth to himself through Abram. Genesis 12:1–3 is so significant that in this text Paul finds the gospel preached in the Old Testament. He writes in Galatians 3:8, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’” The good news of the gospel for Paul is that through Abram God is gathering all nations back to himself.

Throughout Abraham’s life, God would consistently reiterate and clarify his promises to reassure him that God was going to be faithful. The last time the narrator records God showing up to Abraham, God once again reinforces his commitment to Abraham (Genesis 22:15–18). God’s final words to Abraham essentially restate the gospel of Genesis 12, but incorporate Abraham’s offspring into the promise: “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed . . .” The good news of God’s unrelenting commitment to gather a people for himself remains for the generations who follow, including us.

Even better news is that he doesn't leave us as we are, he renews us by his presence. More on that tomorrow . . . 

  

Mark Catlin