Jesus’ miracles pointed to him being the one who would bring in the Second Exodus restoration that would return the world to Eden. The surprising way that Jesus brings about this restoration though is not simply by leading Jews from captivity in Babylon, nor by removing the pagan Roman overlords – rather the restoration that Jesus brings is by doing a work that will first restore the people to become an Eden-like people.
Jesus restores people to a relationship with God in several ways. Below is a sampling of some of these.
- Israel had been blind, deaf, and mute when it came to the things of God. Jesus now causes many in Israel to see God’s work, hear God’s word and to speak calling out to God in repentance, faith, and praise.
- Jesus is also Malachi’s refiner’s fire and launderer’s soap – he washes us clean of our sins and refines our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit who transforms our hearts to love and seek after the things of God.
- Jesus is the new and better Adam. Adam in the garden of Eden fell by his disobedience – but he fell as a representative man. Adam represented all people associated with him by means of flesh-biology. His disobedience caused all people represented by him to have sinful natures and be sentenced to the judgment of death.
Jesus, not in the Garden of Eden but in the garden of Gethsemane surrounded by thorns, said, “Not my will but your will be done”. Whereas Adam had disobeyed with a tree, Jesus obeyed through his death upon a tree (the cross). Jesus represented all people associated with him by means of Spirit-faith. His obedience caused all people represented by him to experience regeneration (new natures, hearts etc.) and receive the verdict of life.
- The Pre-Exile prophets had spoken of the Exile as a being like a cup in which people would drink God’s wrath and judgment. In Gethsemane, the cross is likewise described as Jesus drinking the pre-Exile prophets’ cup of judgment. Matthew portrays Jesus’ going to the cross in “Exile language’ – he is handed over to the nations, bound and stripped as a captive, forsaken by God, and put to death in darkness – in other words he takes the judgment of Exile and divine wrath) on himself.
By the end of the New Testament – those in Israel who accept Jesus experience life in the kingdom of heaven but those who reject him experience their own judgment of Exile in 70 A.D. Either Jesus as a representative-substitute takes on our judgment or we must bear it ourselves.
Jesus is a new and better Adam, a new and better Israel, a new and better Solomon, a new and better remnant. Through Jesus, people can be restored to being an Eden-people who walk in a right relationship with God (as Adam and Eve had). But there is more …