What if the reading of the creation stories in Gen.1-2 offered by Greg Beale that the Garden of Eden, Eden itself, and the uninhabited lands outside Eden symbolize the temple (Garden=Holy of Holies, Eden=Holy Place, uninhabited lands=temple courtyard) and God’s aim is for his image-bearers to extend the boundaries of that Garden Holy of Holies to finally encompass the whole earth making it a place where God can dwell with his people forever is on target. That makes Gen.1:28 the original “Great Commission.”
If God’s aim is as just stated then his mandate to turn this planet into a Holy of Holies is what human rebellion disrupted and what God’s call to Abraham and Sarah restarted by dealing with sin in order to fulfill God’s creational design.
This means that God’s Tempe-building project is his primary concern and focus. That’s what he’s working on and what calls his followers to work on. This is the “it” the whole God-thing is about (or what we call “salvation”).
And this salvation takes place in the midst of history, in our lives, here and now. Scripture tells us God has determined that his plan will succeed. We don’t have to worry about being included in it. The only real question is whether we will participate in the “salvation” God offers and Christ won for us on the cross. And that’s to play our part as God’s renewed image-bearers and temple builders. God still wants this world to be his eternal temple dwelling with us. And for us to share in its construction now (see 1 Cor.3:10-17). Call it discipleship, Christian life, sanctification, whatever, it’s about temple-building. And its about now.
Of course, we won’t finish the job or do it all right, or maybe even well. But God will see to it that our work is cleaned up and filled out by his grace and used in constructing the New Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies coextensive with the new creation in Rev.21. Perhaps, if we had this understanding of salvation we might have a greater sense of urgency and importance about our lives with God now, less interest in what divides us or is worth fighting over, and an easier time keeping our eye on the ball.
Worth a thought? Heretical?