The hero of the story
In Genesis, we are introduced to the heavens and the earth. God said that they were good; it was creation in its perfect state, as it was meant to be. In the middle of paradise, he made man to rule as regent over this newly formed kingdom. In the very image of God, man would rule the earth.
Man did the exact opposite. He did not rule over creation, instead, he let it talk him into disobedience when the serpent said those viral words, “You will not surely die.” As that fruit crossed man’s lips, all of creation fell from perfection into the pit of depravity. The curse of sin spread from Adam’s lips out into every corner of the created order. Sin’s grip wound its way, like the very thorns it produced, into every crevice as all of creation cried out against this tragedy.
Yet, in the very same words God used to curse man, woman, and all of creation for its disobedience to his almighty lordship, he uttered a promise. In Genesis 3:15, God made creation a promise. In that moment, God promised to fix it. He would correct our mistake.
Talking to the serpent, the very representative of evil, God said, “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.” (Gen. 3:15, NIV)
A hero was promised. This hero would come as a man from the woman’s seed. The serpent may strike his heel, but he will deal the final, crushing blow of death to the serpent.
So begins the story.
Soon, we find out this man would be the son of one Abraham. God told Abraham he would bring a great nation into the world through him, and that this nation would bless all other nations. At the age of 100, Abraham finally has that son, only to take him and place him on an altar. Why? Because God asked. “God will provide a lamb,” were the words of faith spoken by a man who believed in that promise. Isaac was not the hero of the story. He was merely a shadow of the Lamb who was to come.
Isaac has Jacob, and Jacob wrestles with the divine, claiming the name Israel for himself. Thus, Israel becomes the bearer of that promised hero. Twelve children later, a nation is born, and saved from starvation by Joseph. Jacob was not that hero, nor was Joseph or any of his twelve sons. They were merely shadows of one who was to come.
Four hundred years later, a pharaoh arose in Egypt who did not know Joseph. The people were enslaved and cried out to God. As their cries rose up to heaven, God heard their suffering and remembered his promise. In the midst of genocide, God slips one son through. His name was Moses.
Moses became the mighty mouthpiece of God. He stood in front of the world’s most powerful man, a god on earth, and showed him the power of Yahweh, the one true, living God. Ten plagues later, Moses walked those people out of Egypt, across dry land, and drowned the world’s mightiest army.
God’s nation, Israel, sat at the foot of the Mountain of God as Moses talked with God. He was their great mediator. He was the one who could go to God for the people. They could not approach the almighty and live, for they were sinners, but Moses could stand in their place. He could go on their behalf as God’s chosen man. He, like no man, saw God’s glory. He was the intercessor, but Moses was not the hero of the story. He was merely a shadow of the great Mediator who was to come.
The nation moved into the Promised Land and conquered. It ruled over the land and established its kingdom. A king was chosen to rule the people. Soon, a ruddy shepherd would defeat a giant with a slingshot. This shepherd-turned-king would rule his people as a man after God’s own heart. He made God’s nation, Israel, a great nation, and God made a promise to him. God established a covenant with him, promising him that a king would come out of his line that would rule an eternal kingdom. So, the man God promised in Genesis was said to be a coming king. King David was not the hero of the story. He was merely a shadow of the great shepherd King who was to come.
At this point in the story, Israel’s history grows dark. Kings fail, people fall, and idolatry lures the hearts of God’s nation away. One by one, men of God stand up to speak against the evils of Israel. The prophets preach of judgement, but they also preach a good news. Despite being conquered, despite exile, God would ultimately bring freedom. The lamb promised to Abraham, the mediator greater than Moses, and the kingly son of David would come. Yet, he would come not arrayed as a king but as a suffering servant. Not one of these prophets was the hero of the story. They were merely shadows that pointed to the Prophet who was to come, preaching his kingdom.
After the prophets, there was silence, four hundred years of silence. Like the moment of darkness right before the dawn, the story sits silent. He had promised a blessing, a mediator, a savior who could atone and make things right. He had promised a hero. It was as if Yahweh, the living God who speaks, had stopped talking. But the world would soon see that it could not contain the glory of what was about to happen. God fulfilled the promise he made to creation in the garden so long ago.
The hero entered the story.
Into a world tainted with the curse of sin, a world still reeling in agony from the consequences of its disobedience, stepped the only one who could save it. He was called called Immanuel, which means God with us. The very Word that spoke creation into existence actually became flesh and set his foot on the soil he had made. He would fix it. He would correct our mistake.
As a man, he could stand in our place; as God, he was the only one who could bear the weight of the world’s sin. It had to be him. And walking up that hill to Calvary, Jesus placed on his back the curse of sin. Jesus, who knew no sin, actually became sin. He would take the curse to the grave, and in effect bury sin.
Where the first Adam failed, this Adam would succeed. Where the blood of bulls and goats could not really atone sin, his blood would heal creation. Where Moses attempted to mediate between God and his people, Jesus would sit at the right hand of the Father, constantly interceding for his people.
But the story is not over. God promised a king.
At the back of the book, we find John sitting alone on an island. He is swept up into a vision from God. There, John gets to see how it all ends, and he tells us about it. He finishes the story.
In the apocalypse, Jesus is no suffering servant.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev. 19:11-16)
The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the great shepherd king promised of old, will lead the charge into that final battle with evil. Sin, Satan, and the curse will be destroyed once and for all by the mighty sword that issues forth from his mouth.
In the final chapter of that story, the hero says, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendent of David, the bright and morning star.” (Rev. 22:16)
The story that started with the heavens and the earth, will end with new heavens and a new earth. It comes full circle to a creation with no sin and no death. Paradise, once lost, will be regained, redeemed, and restored. The old will pass away and the the new will move into eternity with King Jesus, the hero of the story, on his throne.
And the final words of our hero:
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev. 22:12-13)
Jesus is the hero of the story.