I remember back in 2007 when the last Harry Potter novel was released. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - the last book of the series. All the previous 6 books led up to this point! It was the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle. It was the book to end it all. It was the end of the Harry Potter story.
I'm guessing most of us can remember what happens. Spoiler alert, Voldermort dies. We may know the end of fictional stories quite well. At the end of the Lord of the Rings, Frodo destroys the ring. At the end of Finding Nemo, Marlin finds his son. At the end of the Twilight series, the world was wet with the tears of teenage girls.
But, how well do you know the most important end of all? How well do you know your end? The end of humanity? The end of the cosmos?'
It's so easy to just go through life thinking that everything will be as they are forever. Modern day society conditions you to believe that the end is in the very distant future, and that it doesn't concern us. On the other hand, the apostles of the first century had a totally different mentality. They knew that the end had begun. But the end of what? What end are we talking about?
The end of what?
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." – Genesis 3 verse 15
The church has historically proclaimed that this verse contains what's called the Protoevangelium, the "first gospel", or the first gospel promise. The first half of the verse rings with conflict. The story of God is set up here in Genesis 3 verse 15 as the story of world conflict. It is about the conflict between the offspring of the serpent and the offspring of the woman. "He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
But it is a story that leads to a grand day, a final climax, when the two great protagonists will face off: Satan who speaks through the serpent, versus Jesus. In this battle, the serpent will bruise the heel of the offspring of the woman who is Jesus, and the offspring of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent. There will be victory over the serpent!
The whole of the Bible from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the book of Revelation, is a story told through the lens of the struggle between these two opposing powers. Whether, it is Cain versus Abel, or God versus the Tower of Babel, or the Israelites versus the Egyptians, or Goliath versus David, or Babylon versus Jerusalem, or Jesus versus the Pharisees, or the early Christians versus the Roman Empire – in one form or another, the Bible invites us to understand that the basic theme of 'all human history' is, as Augustine famously said, the story of the City of God being built in the context of the City of Man trying to do its best to destroy it.
It's a story that concerns the whole of humanity, the whole cosmos. It's a story that we already know the end to. The end of this story is the most important end of all.
What time is it?
So where are we in this story of conflict right now? What time is it?
After the fall of humanity, Eve says in Genesis 4 verse 1: "I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord." Was this the promised Redeemer, coming so quickly? Sadly, it was not. But the hope continued. In Genesis 5 verses 28-29, we read that Lamech called his son's name Noah, saying, "Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands." From Noah, the story continues in the promise given to Abraham.
You might remember that strange scene in Genesis 22, where Abraham's son Isaac says, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Then Abraham in a wonderfully prophetic way, assures his own son – that "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." Thus Abraham's hand was stayed because of the ram, caught in a thicket.
So the pictures begin to build up in the Old Testament Scriptures, a picture of a fallen humanity in need of a Saviour: the sacrifices which had to be repeated day after day, year after year; Israel crying out to God and the unbreakable cycle of sin in Judges; the promise of a King who will reign from one end of the world to the other, a reign which will bring peace and completion. Was it Saul? No. Was it David? No. But it was not just a great King that was promised – a Prophet, greater than Moses, was also promised. And then the prophecies, all pointing to this incredible need. The need for a Saviour, the Messiah.
Then Jesus, the Messiah, came down the Earth. This was it! The climax of human history! Remember Genesis 3 verse 15, "He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." But then, the Messiah was hung on a cross. It seemed as if the serpent had won. But… You know what happens next. O happy day, Jesus rises from the grave, right? Victory was realised, Satan's hold over the world was broken. This was the beginning of the end.
The apostles recognised this. Hebrews 1 verse 2, "but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son." 1 Peter 1 verse 20, "he was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you." These 'last days' they were talking about began 2000 years ago. You are living in the last days right now, the period between the first and second coming of Christ. The Old Age is ending, a new one has begun. The end has already begun. It started 2000 years ago. Never forget what time it is.
Anton Zhang is studying aeronautics and arts at the University of Sydney, he is part of a family of four, his hobbies include music, hiking and fencing. He is an active part of the Christian youth work at the Padstow Chinese Congregational Church.
Anton Zhang's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/anton-zhang.html