The Story: In the Beginning, Part 2 (The Happy Ending)

Denouement

  • (RP) IPA: /deˈnuːmɑ̃/
  • (US) IPA: /deɪnuˈmɑnt/,      /deɪnuˈmɑ̃/

“Denouement” is a fancy word for the final conclusion, when the climax comes to final resolution.

In a murder mystery, the climax is the moment the detective solves the mystery, or when he finally figures it out. The denouement is when the bad guy is caught. It’s the end of the story when the loose ends have all been neatly tied up and all that went before finally makes perfect sense.

In the Bible, the denouement is the second coming of Jesus. It’s when the wicked are judged and sent to destruction, the redeemed are saved and protected from destruction, and God joins heaven and earth to walk with man once again.

I know that some of you are the kind who buy a murder mystery and read the last chapter first. I can see it in your eyes. You sneak a peek into the ending so that the rest of the story makes sense — so you know how it all works out.

And so for you, we’re going to sneak a peek at the end —

(Rev 21:1-5 NET) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more.  2 And I saw the holy city – the new Jerusalem– descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband.[2]  3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them.  4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more – or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”  5 And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” Then he said to me, “Write it down, because these words are reliable and true.”

(Rev 22:1-3 NET)  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life– water as clear as crystal – pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb,  2 flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations.  3 And there will no longer be any curse,[3] and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him,

Notice what happens. God brings heaven down to earth and walks with man — once again! The tree of life is returned to the earth. The curse is removed. And everything is made new once again.

It’s a happy ending. We just have to have the patience to wait for it, because there are many sad endings in between. But the sadness will be fixed. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes”!

Flood

Sin entered the world through Eve and Adam. Both sinned. Immediately after their sin, we read that Cain kills Abel, demonstrating that sin destroys families, even leading to murder of our brothers.

Sin continued to prevail, so much so that in only a few generations, God nearly gave up on mankind altogether. Ultimately, he decides to destroy most of mankind, saving only Noah and his family.

But just as soon as the world is destroyed and Noah and  his family begin the human race again, we find that Noah becomes drunken and sin re-enters the world.

The world cannot be redeemed by destroying the sinners, because even the righteous sin, too. No one truly merits salvation. All are broken. All need a redeemer. If God were to destroy every sinner, no one would be left to be redeemed.

Abram

As a result, God begins his master plan to redeem the world from sin, to cure our brokenness. He calls Abram to follow God by traveling to Palestine.

Now, Palestine is one of the more barren, poor places on the planet. It has no oil and no minerals. It has precious little water. It can be farmed, but farming is hard work — much harder than in Egypt or Babylon, where the fields are deep with rich soil and well watered by rivers. The only river in Palestine is the Jordan River, which we Southerners would call the Jordan Creek.

There are mountains, hills, and wilderness — desert, to an American. The largest body of water is a half-mile below sea level, filled with salt, and surrounded by desert. Nothing grows there except towers of salt.

And while it’s on the Mediterranean Sea, it has no harbors. The Phoenicians lived to the north, had harbors, and became great seafarers. The Jews in Palestine feared the sea, considering it the “abyss,” symbolic of chaos.

While Westerners would build condos on the Sea of Galilee, the Jews stay far away. The sea may be a place to fish, but it’s not a place to enjoy. It’s a place to be feared.

This is the Promised Land, the “land of milk and honey.”

Why is the land valuable? Well, because you can’t travel from Babylon to Egypt except by going through Palestine, and you can’t travel from Greece to Egypt except through Palestine. It’s a place that armies pass through as kings seek to defeat and conquer other nations. It’s a place of trade and barter, where foreigners travel to visit other lands in hopes of making a good deal.

Palestine, therefore, is place where trade takes place, where deals are made, and where armies camp as they prepare to conquer another place far more important.

For Abram, Palestine was a place to raise sheep and goats, to gain wealth as he dealt with the kings of local city-states, and a place to meet God face to face.

You see, Palestine is a place we’d call “God forsaken,” but to Abram and his descendants, Palestine became the place where God deals with man. God chose one of the least attractive, least wealthy, least defensible spots on earth to bless with his presence.

Why? Because God is all about taking the most broken and most unworthy and redeeming them — beginning with Abram — a very flawed human being whose saving characteristic was a willingness to go where God told him to go.

So that’s how story works. But, of course, there’s so much more.

__________________________

[2] Just like God’s presenting Eve to Adam, freshly made from his rib, made of the same flesh, destined to be united perfectly.

[3] The curse of Genesis 3 is undone, and man no longer has to labor to eat, women will no longer suffer the pain and death that comes with childbirth, and there will no longer be strife between male and female. This curse will end —

(Gen 3:16b NET) “You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.”

Jesus came to end the curse, and the church is part of the redemption of marriages and male/female relationships. Thus, male domination is not a command but a curse that Jesus died to undo — but the curse will continue so long as sin prevails on earth — not as God’s wish but as a result of the brokenness that comes from sin.

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About Jay Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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