Last Things First
Do you ever have difficulty understanding how Scripture fits together as a coherent whole? I have a suggestion. The next time you read through the Bible, start with Revelation 20–22, and then go back to Genesis 1. Just as knowing the conclusion of a whodunit helps you see things you missed, the final chapters of Revelation can help you identify the major themes of Scripture that are introduced in Genesis and developed throughout the entire Bible.
In Genesis, we learn that God intends to establish His kingdom on earth with man as a subordinate king under Him. Adam and Eve are also given priestly duties insofar as they are to guard the sanctity of the garden. God establishes a covenant with them and manifests His presence in the garden. When Satan successfully tempts man, he usurps authority, and death is introduced into the world. Creation is cursed, man is barred from the tree of life, and God declares war on the Serpent.
In the final chapters of Revelation, we see the final resolution. The Devil is finally defeated, and mankind is restored to its intended role serving as priests and reigning under God (20:6). God reestablishes His presence with man, and the purpose of the covenants is fulfilled as they are now His people and He is their God (21:3). The effects of the curse are removed, and there is no longer any sin or death (21:4, 27). God fully establishes His kingdom, and access is again allowed to the tree of life (22:1–2). All of this is possible because of the work of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
Read the Bible looking for these themes. Look for the ongoing conflict between the people of the Serpent and the people of God. Watch as God reestablishes His kingdom and His presence with His people. Observe God’s work of redemption. Observe how the resolution of all these themes comes together in the person and work of Jesus Christ, our King, our High Priest, our Redeemer, and Immanuel.