The Redemption of Antioch

2015-04-03The other day, my wife and I were driving through Antioch on the way to visit some friends. Our trek was from Brierfield to West Blocton, and though I did not need to drive through Antioch, I specifically went that route because I wanted to see the geography in early spring. I love south-central Bibb county, and it was beautiful in the dreary Sunday afternoon as we drove through the valleys.

It is lovely to think about Antioch and south Bibb in the future, as the Lord continues to redeem and restore the earth. The rugged hills will be redeemed through hard work and labor of mankind, working to subdue the earth and cultivate it for the Kingdom of God. The long, desolate stretches of road will be cultivated and popoulous, and productive work will abound. Perhaps productive farmland will rise and fall with the hills and valleys, or perhaps there will be fruitful cities and towns by that point. We cannot know. But we can know that our Lord reigns, and is victorious over death and hell, and is redeeming Antioch in time and history, even now.

This is especially edifying to think about on this Resurrection Sunday, the day we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection from the dead and His triumph over sin and death. Christ’s resurrection was the final aspect of His work on earth, and it sealed the redemption of creation. Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead indicated His power over death, and the fact that where Christ reigns, there will be life and redemption. This means that progressively, the earth will be redeemed, “as far as the curse is found.”

We know that one day, the men and women of our county “shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34). We know that man’s productive labor will be blessed: “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.” The animals and the earth itself will be blessed: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD” (Isa. 65:25). And, “Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fuit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kind, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store” (Deut. 28:3-5). The Bible tells us that complete and total redemption will come upon our land, upon Antioch and the rest of our county, in every area! Men, women, and families everywhere will be redeemed, the land will be cultivated, and our economic endeavors will be blessed as we serve the Lord, and live and operate in terms of His resurrection and redemption of us to His service.

As Isaac Watts wrote in his famous hymn, “Joy to the World” (which, incidentally, is set to the tune called “Antioch”), verses one and three:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her king;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.