“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 NASB
The Brothers Grimm told tales, one of which involved siblings Hansel and Gretel. Their stepmother convinced their father to abandon them in the woods, but the children left pebbles to mark the path, and returned home. The father brought them back to the woods, deeper this time, and the children left a trail of breadcrumbs instead of pebbles. Predictably, birds ate the trail, forcing the children to wander into the home of a cannibalistic witch.
Due to the effects of evil, humankind got dropped off in a forest called fallenness, where chaos and depravity grow densely. God leaves us His Scriptures like a trail of pebbles, marking the way home. In Scripture we get glimpses of the world to come.
Abundance is one of these pebbles. When drought and famine ravaged Israel in the Old Testament, the starving Elijah encountered the widow of Zarephath. She had not a morsel of food, but offered him the contents of her cupboard: a handful of meal and few drops of oil. God displayed His abundance when “the jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:16 esv). Such abundance will be our way of life in the new heavens and the new earth (Psalm 36:8, Revelation 22:1-3).
Glory is another pebble in Scripture. On the heels of the golden calf debacle, Moses ascended Mount Sinai and spent forty days and nights with the Lord. Humankind and the divine met on that mountain, and when Moses descended, his face shone with such radiance that it frightened the people, so he veiled it (Exodus 32; 34:1–33). The glory of God illumines more than human skin; it will light every inch of the new creation (Revelation 22:5).
Leadership is yet another pebble in our trail. Sin so corrupted the prophets, priests, and kings in Israel that their personal lives were a degradation, their leadership was distracted, and the people were deserted to hunger, hope, and hopelessness (Ezekiel 34:1–10). When Jesus first walked this earth, He gathered straying sinners, bound wounds of the injured, and strengthened the weak (John 10:1–18). He trained shepherds to feed and tend sheep (1 Peter 5:1–3) and when the chief Shepherd returns, we “will receive the unfading crown of glory” and reign with Him forever (1 Peter 5:4 esv).
Wholeness is the final pebble in our trail. Scripture describes the shalom of God, which acts as an antiserum against the disorder and disease, inoculating humankind emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and relationally. Jesus wept, considering the toll sin and death take on creation. Then He healed broken hearts and raised the broken body of Lazarus (John 11:1–44). Jesus restored mental capacities to a demon-possessed tomb-dweller (Mark 5:1–20). Jesus forgave the sins and healed the paralysis of a desperate man (Mark 2:1–12). Jesus stopped the bleeding of a woman, a physical healing which led to relational healing as she once again could participate in ceremonial and civic life (Luke 8:42–48). When Christ sets foot to soil once again and we dwell with Him on this transformed sphere, wholeness will replace all sickness and sadness (Revelation 21:1–4).
Birds ate the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel, but nothing can destroy the trail of bread left by God: the body of Christ. No matter how long and far we wander, at the Lord’s table we draw near to Him, repent, receive forgiveness, and share bread and wine to commemorate His efficacious work (1 Corinthians 11:23–26). As we participate in the meal, we taste the shalom that will one day fill our physical, transformed bodies and the material, transformed earth (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15).