From Beginning to End

Genesis, Revelation, and the Presence of God

Genesis 1–3 and Revelation 21–22 have many significant differences. Nevertheless, these differences indicate that these two passage are indeed similar and tied together because the differences signify a progression in the biblical storyline — from beginning to end. Hence, one may say with T.D. Alexander, “while endzeit resembles urzeit, there is progression.”[1] Genesis portrays a mission and a plan, while Revelation portrays the accomplishment.

 Similarities

There are at least two noteworthy similarities. First, God dwells with man both in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:8) and in the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:3). Second, both mention the tree of life (Gen 2:9; 3:22; Rev 22:2). With these two realities in mind, life and life with God is an evident reality — this should inform how we read our entire Bible.

Differences

There are three noteworthy differences. First, Genesis has an intended expansion for Eden. One can see this in the fact that man was to fill the earth and yet find sustenance in the garden — God’s dwelling place. Hence, man was to expand the presence of God throughout the world.[2] One does not see a mission like this in Revelation, but rather sees God’s dwelling place with man that is the entire new heaven and new earth. Second, Genesis portrays temporality (seen in the night/evening [Gen 1:3–5]) whereas there is no night in Revelation (Rev 21:25). Third, God casts man out of his presence due to sin in Genesis 3:24 and consequently man cannot eat from the tree of life and live forever. However, in Revelation, man is with God forever (Rev 21:3; 22:4–5) and can benefit from the tree of life (22:2).

Conclusion: Coming to Fruition

Putting this all together, it seems that the mission or plan of Genesis comes to fruition in the new heaven and new earth wherein God dwells with his people forever. Hence, analogically put, Genesis is a blueprint and Revelation is the finished structure.[3] God’s presence, beginning in Genesis, dwelled in a garden, but in the New Jerusalem, it covers the entire new heaven and new earth. Further, whereas man could be and was cast out of God’s presence in Genesis, Revelation portrays an eternal reality of life with God. These differences show that the wonderful similarities progressed from Genesis to Revelation.

Two implications: (1) this should inform how we read our Bibles. Our Bibles are a unified story and this theme “life in the presence of God” saturates Scripture. (2) We have real hope. This history is going somewhere good for those who trust in Jesus for their salvation — we will have eternal life with God.



[1] T. Desmond Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2009), 14.

[2] See John H. Walton, Genesis, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 186.

[3] Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem, 14.