Dancing In the Kingdom – Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom – Chapter 1 – Prelude
[Bible references: Genesis 1; 3:8; Matthew 9:14-15; Romans 8:19-22; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Revelation 21-22]
“The creation of the world seems to have been especially for this end, that the eternal Son of God might obtain a spouse towards whom he might fully exercise the infinite benevolence of his nature, and to whom he might, as it were, open and pour forth all that immense fountain of condescension, love, and grace that was in his heart, and that in this way God might be glorified. 
God created the universe for his glory, and within that, humans were created to experience the true joy of living, to bear the fruit of His nature, to reflect His presence. We are designed to be image-bearers of God himself, stewards of the creation He inserted us into while reflecting the very character of God. The exercise of stewardship is seen in the process of “subduing” and “having dominion” over the earth (its creatures and it resources), and in being “fruitful” and filling the earth. God’s initial reaction to creating us was, “It was very good.” His intent was that we would fill and take care of the earth, all the while reflecting His character to each other and to His creation.
In the beginning, heaven and earth were joined at the Garden of Eden. It was a place where the Creator could have communion with his image-bearers and walk in the garden with them. The garden was the perfect place for the image-bearers to develop and begin working out the intended future of filling the earth and ruling over it as co-regents with God.
He gave us unimaginable delight and freedom, but that very freedom He gave us was joined to a responsibility, a responsibility that was wrongly used and caused immense far-reaching damage – damage we could not possibly undo – the whole universe is groaning, waiting for to be restored. Our pride-laden rebellion damaged the relationships between each other, between us and God, between us and the world and even between heaven and earth; but God had a plan from the beginning, a plan which is now underway, to ultimately restore what was lost and undo that damage and bring us to our intended destination – an earth filled with and ruled by image-bearers and where heaven and earth are rejoined so that the image-bearers can walk with God once again.
“Jesus’ own teaching during his brief public career simply reinforced the Jewish picture. He redefined a lot of ideas that were current at the time – notably, of course, kingdom of God itself, explained in many coded parables and symbolic actions that God’s sovereign, saving rule was now breaking in, even though it didn’t look like what his contemporaries had imagined and wanted.”
Ultimately, we will be freed from the bondages of sin and death and all the relationships that are now damaged will be restored. In fact, in a timeline that we cannot fully grasp, God waited from the beginnings of mankind until 2000 years ago to defeat the power of sin and death and begin the process of restoring His kingdom on earth. Then He told us that someday, he will complete that process and he will return in the fullness of his glory to fully restore all things at that time. We just don’t know when that will be.
Our hope looks at the resurrection of Jesus as a harbinger of the resurrection that awaits all those of us who will be united with Him in our own transformed bodies in the new heavens and the new earth.
‘… what is the ultimate Christian hope? …what hope is there for change, rescue , transformation, new possibilities within the world in the present … if the Christian hope is for God’s new creation, for “new heavens and new earth,” and if that hope has already come to life in Jesus of Nazareth, then there is every reason to join the two questions together … “God’s kingdom” in the preaching of Jesus refers not to postmortem destiny, not to our escape from this world into another one, but to God’s sovereign rule coming “on earth as it is in heaven.” 
Furthermore, our hope doesn’t ask for us to simply wait for that time when the Kingdom of God is fully restored, but that we can be part of God’s plan to bring the Kingdom of God into our broken world.
 Edwards, Jonathan, “Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two” (p. 62) SERMON II. THE CHURCH’S MARRIAGE TO HER SONS, AND TO HER GOD. Ed. John E. Smith, Yale University Press, 2009
 Bible Project “Pursuing God, Heaven and Earth,” Bible Project www.pursuegod.org/biblical-themes-an-animated-explanation-of-heaven-earth
 Wright, N.T. “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” (p. 18). Harper Collins 2008. Kindle Edition
 Wright, N.T. “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church” pp. 4-5 Harper Collins 2008. Kindle Edition
Speaking strictly from what we know from science, we seem to be random life forms on a random planet in a random spot in the universe. In that perspective, having an anthropocentric view of the universe seems absurd. But knowing what the Creator of heaven and earth has revealed to us, the universe was designed to be inhabited … by us! How does that change your view of the universe?
Read Psalm 8; 111; Exodus 8:16-19. Some of us can look at the universe and see the “fingerprints of God.” Why do others of us not draw the same conclusion?