Many thoughts will go through our minds as we think about Paul’s description of the amazing future God has planned for his people. Here are three reflections.
First, we should consider what this great future restoration says about God. To begin with, we can note that he makes and fulfils great promises. There are many promises in the Bible regarding what will happen when Jesus returns and all of them will be performed.
Moreover, we can note what this restoration says about his mercy. The effects, time-wise, of the curse on the earth have been long, but however long it will be, it will not be as long as the period of restoration that will follow. The earth will be full of the glory of the Lord, and the prototype that Eden was will become a glorious reality.
A second reflection is that we should always remember who our fellow Christians are. They are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus. One day they are going to be glorified and enter into the amazing inheritance produced for them by the loving and wise omnipotence of Jesus. At this moment, they too have the firstfruits of the Spirit and they too have (or should have) positive groanings for a better world. Our vision of a shared future should lead us to have a determination to interact with them in a Christ-like way.
The third reflection is that all the heirs of God will receive the inheritance together. No doubt we are familiar with how the eleventh chapter of Hebrews finishes. The writer, who has described the illustrious believers from the Old Testament period, comments that they cannot be made complete without us: ‘And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect’ (11:39). The number of people in the ‘us’ is not yet completed, but it will be on the day that Jesus returns. Then the believers from the twenty-first century BC will join the believers from the twenty-first century AD and enter the same inheritance. They are waiting for us, but we are not holding them back. Instead they too are looking forward to the united gathering of all the redeemed in the eternal inheritance.