Have you ever stopped to think what God's ultimate goal is?
We all have goals ... things in our lives that we are trying to accomplish. For some it may be finishing a degree, for others to find a spouse, or to raise their children, or to own their own home ... Some goals are financial (such as getting out of debt), some are personal (such as running a marathon), and some are more serious than others (such as surviving cancer). Having a set of goals just comes naturally to us. Wouldn't you expect that God would have goals as well?
Carrying this thought further, some of us have ultimate goals that we work toward our entire lives. For example, the ultimate goal of every Christian should be to live their life in such a way that when they finally meet the Lord they hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Every day, every month, every year is devoted to meeting that goal. So it is natural to ask: What is God ultimately working to accomplish?
Someone may answer that question by quoting John Piper: "The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever."* And with that I will not disagree. But what I'm more interested in is the how. How will God glorify Himself? What is the ultimate set of circumstances that He is working toward that will result in bringing him glory?
After pondering this question for some time, it is my conviction that God's ultimate goal is to have an intimate relationship with a group of people. This is what He has been working toward from the beginning of time, is what He is working toward now, and is what He will continue to work toward until this world passes away.
My main evidence for this conviction comes from Revelation 21:1-4. This is the beginning of the next to last chapter of the last book of the Bible ... a natural place for God to tell us what his ultimate goal is. Here is the passage:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV)
As you can see from verse 1, this is after all the judgments of Revelation had been completed and even after Christ had reigned on the earth for 1,000 years. It is after the defeat of Satan and after the Great White Throne Judgement. The entire history of the first heaven and the first earth has been completed and God is starting something new.
So what was the point of all the events that happened in the first heaven and the first earth? Why did God create this universe we now live in, allow sin to enter it, send His Son to redeem it, etc., etc., etc.? Why go through all that trouble? The answer lies in the next few verses, particularly verse 3: "the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God." In other words, God wanted to have an intimate relationship with a group of people. He wanted to dwell with them, to love them, and to have them love Him in return.
In future posts we will explore this topic further.
*John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996), p. 33.