Almost exactly a year ago I finished writing my first screenplay. It was a dream I had wanted to see come true for years, and it finally happened. One of the things I learned while reading how to write a screenplay is that the final image of the film is often a mirror image of the opening frame, but slightly different. Whether it's the characters or a place, the opening image and closing image are identical, except they reflect the change that the story made. By this standard, the ending of the Bible is a masterpiece.
I'm not going to pretend to understand most of the book of Revelation. It's vivid imagery can blow the mind and create more questions than it answers. The last two chapters however, tie in the rest of scripture in a beautiful closing image that reflects the opening image in the garden.
The story of the Bible starts with a garden of innocence, and ends with a city of virtue. It begins with God creating light and dark, and ends with God being the light for all things. We meet the mysterious character of God in Genesis, and see him fully in three parts- as Father, Son, and Spirit in the end. God invites people into relationship in the beginning, and people reject that relationship for sin, but in the end, God finds a way to restore that perfect relationship and even put an end to the pain and suffering caused by sin.
One of my favorite images that can be overlooked is the return of the tree of life. There were two trees in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. When people were forced to leave the garden, we were no longer allowed access to the tree of life because of sin. At the end of the book of Revelation, for the first time since the garden, God graciously gives us access to that tree from which eternal life is possible.
It spans 1,500 years, is written in three different languages, on different continents, and is written by everyone from kings to the destitute. Yet this wonderful masterpiece we call the Bible comes to a close tying up the loose ends, and bringing us back to what we lost in the beginning, only very different.