Recover All

This is an excerpt from chapter eight of my new book, What To Do on the Worst Day of Your Life. And yes, it is a new book. If you’ve read the self published paperback from twelve years ago, that really isn’t the same book as the one just published. And why is this new one so differrent? Well, I’m not the same person I was twelve years ago. It’s good to grow, don’t you think? The book should be available in stores by March 3 and is available now at

At its heart the story of David at Ziklag is a story of restoration, and at its heart, the story of the gospel is a story of restoration. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is salvation for?” Not what is salvation, but what is salvation for? Salvation is for the restoration of all things to God’s original goodness. Salvation is the story of how God recovers from His loss.

God created a good world, but this good world was lost to sin, Satan, corruption, and death. The story the Bible tells is how God is in the process of recovering all that has been lost in the catastrophe of sin. This is the big picture of the Bible’s story. God Himself knows what it is to suffer loss, and God also knows how to recover all.

Recovering All Is God’s Plan

The Bible should be read as a story, not primarily as a manual or a catalog. The Bible has a central storyline and is composed mostly of stories and subplots that move the grand narrative of Scripture forward (with a genealogy or a census thrown in here and there). The storyline of Scripture is told in the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, the patriarchs, Moses, David, Elijah, Jonah, the prophets and kings, the apostles and saints, and most of all, in the Gospel stories of Jesus. All of these stories are connected to one another in such a way as to tell the big-picture story of the Bible—the story of God’s intention to recover all.

The story the Bible tells doesn’t begin, “Once upon a time,” because the story of the Bible begins before time. Instead, we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” As the creation story progresses, we are told repeatedly that what God created, He called good. Upon completion of Creation, we are told that God declared it was all very good. In the creation of the physical universe and human society, God intended that creation might experience the goodness of God, but the story was to take a tragic turn.

I find it interesting that in the first two chapters of Genesis, the only punctuation needed are periods, commas, and some explanation points (very good!). But in chapter 3 of Genesis, a snake crawls into the garden, hissing his questions, and the twisted question mark makes its first appearance. Have you ever noticed that a question mark sort of resembles a snake? The twisted snake began to ask his twisted questions with the insidious intention of insinuating that God is perhaps not as good as He let on. You know how the story goes. What happened next we commonly call the Fall, and what a precipitous fall it was—a fall that would give the human race its legacy of sin, sorrow, war, injustice, pain, oppression, and seemingly endless loss. The end of this story would be sadder than any Greek tragedy.

But it’s not the end of the story. Even before we leave the third chapter of Genesis, God speaks in encrypted prophecy about recovering all: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

God is no stranger to the horror and sorrow that David came upon when he returned to a ruined Ziklag. God is no stranger to the sorrow you have faced in your own devastating moments of loss. God is no stranger to loss. Think about it. God came into the Garden of Eden looking for fellowship with His image-bearing creatures and found His creation on fire, His world stolen, and His sons and daughters carried away captive. Did God weep? Perhaps. But what God certainly did was set in motion all that was necessary to eventually recover all.

Underlying all the familiar stories of the Bible—Noah’s ark, Abraham’s journey, Moses’s exodus, David’s kingdom, Elijah’s miracles, Daniel’s dreams—is the story of God’s determination to recover all. The story of God’s mission to restore all things to their original goodness reaches its climax in the coming of Messiah—the Seed of the woman who would bruise the serpent’s head and recover all.

By the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the prophecies concerning Messiah had all been penned by the prophets and were well established in the consciousness and culture of the Jewish people. The nation of Israel languished under a succession of foreign oppressors: Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. All of these regimes, like the Amalekites of David’s day, had in their own way looted and plundered the Jewish nation. The national hopes were pinned on the coming of a prophesied Messiah, and by the time Augustus ruled Rome and Herod ruled Judea, the Jewish world was full of messianic expectations (not to mention the occasional messianic pretender, or false messiah).

In the first century a.d., Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes were all expecting a messiah who would restore the fortunes of Israel and deliver them from the humiliating losses they had suffered under the domination of their various Gentile oppressors. The one thing all believing Jews had in common was the expectation of a Messiah who would be the King of the Jews and restore the lost glory of Israel. Their expectation was correct. What was incorrect was their assumption of how God would accomplish this.

Something I have learned over the years is that prophecy is not for prediction but for hope and glory. As the famous physicist Niels Bohr once humorously observed, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” The messianic oracles of the Hebrew prophets did not really enable the Jewish people to predict the details of their deliverer’s, the Messiah’s, coming. What these prophecies did was fill them with hope and then, when the prophecies came to pass, enabled them to recognize what God had done and give Him glory.

When Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the people remembered the prophecies of a Messiah that said, “Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” They gathered branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

What no one predicted—even though it was clearly prophesied—was that Messiah would deliver Israel and recover all—not by killing the Romans but by being crucified upon a Roman cross. Part of the glory of God is to fulfill all of His promises in a way that no one could have predicted. For example, the Old Testament law clearly stated that anyone who was hung upon a tree was cursed of God.

Crucifixion was the standard Roman method for dealing with revolutionary messiahs (would-be kings who challenged the rule of Rome). Since the Torah stated that a crucified man was cursed of God, a crucified messiah was a failed messiah. But what if God raised a crucified messiah from the dead? This was the astounding claim that the first Jews who believed God had raised Jesus from the dead dared to make. They turned convention on its head by saying that, yes, Jesus had been hung upon a tree, but it was all part of God’s plan to “recover all.” They claimed that God had vindicated Jesus as the true Messiah by raising Him from the dead. After the Resurrection, the apostle Paul gave a new and deeper meaning to the Old Testament prophecy about a Messiah who would be hung from a tree and buried. He acknowledged the Jewish law that said anyone hanged from a tree was cursed but then revealed that by dying, Christ became “a curse for us,” and by doing so, He opened the way of salvation to all people who would “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

You Are God’s Restoration Project

Through the Cross, God recovered all—for Himself, for humanity, for creation. God will restore all things through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the great mystery of the Cross. What appears to be a curse becomes a blessing; what appears to be death becomes eternal life; what appears to be shame becomes glory; what appears to be defeat becomes victory; what appears to be loss becomes the restoration of all things.

The apostle Paul looked upon the Cross in the light of the Resurrection and saw what no one could have predicted: through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, God our Father was able to “reconcile all things to Himself”—including things on earth and things in heaven.

Throughout Jesus’s three-year ministry, Peter seemed to excel in misunderstanding how Jesus would accomplish His mission. He regularly seemed to think that Jesus would restore Israel’s glory though conventional means, and he famously attempted to rebuke Jesus for talking about being crucified. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Peter finally came to understand that through Christ, God was restoring all of creation, not just the nation of Israel! He came to the realization that God had done so through the most improbable of means: the death of Messiah upon a cross.

A few weeks after the Resurrection, Peter and John healed a crippled beggar at the temple entrance by the authority of Jesus’s name. Then Peter addressed a crowd in Solomon’s porch, explaining to them how God is restoring all things through a crucified Messiah. He reminded them of the hopeful prophecies of a coming Messiah and boldly announced that “those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” He called on all who were listening to “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

Adam and Eve made a disastrous choice in the garden. They listened to the voice of the deceiver, the serpent, and decided they could define good and evil for themselves apart from God. That choice brought about universal catastrophe—the introduction of sin and death into God’s good creation. But God was not going to give up on His good creation; He was determined to recover all. Through the mysterious victory of the Cross, God is accomplishing what the apostle Peter calls the restoration of all things. The recovery of all things! What is salvation for? Salvation is for the restoration of all things to God’s original goodness.

By your faith in Christ Jesus you are united with God’s great restoration project. By your faith in the Cross of Christ the restorative power of redemption flows into your life. By your faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God, you are connected through God’s grace to recover all. In a world of loss and disappointment, it is faith that believes a crucified carpenter from Nazareth is the risen Son of God that will enable you to overcome the world of loss and disappointment and bring you to a place where you can truly say you have recovered all.

“Whatever is born of God overcomes the world.” It is our faith in Jesus Christ and His work at Calvary that makes us overcomers. If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we can overcome the world.

You may have been hit by what feels like the worst day of your life. A twenty-first-century version of raiding Amalekites may have brought ruin to your hopes and dreams. It might be a lost job, a failed business, a foreclosure, a bankruptcy, a betrayal, a divorce, a wayward child, or even the death of a child. These are the kinds of losses that can seem impossible to recover from, but there is recovery. There is a grace that flows from the Cross to bring recovery into your life. Will you dare to speak outlandish words of faith? In the face of bitter loss can you say, “I will recover”? Will you dare to say, “I will recover all”?

You don’t have to know how it will happen. You don’t have to know when it will happen. You don’t have to feel like it’s true. It doesn’t have to make sense to you. It is the absurd nature of faith to believe what appears to be impossible. I like what the early church father Tertullian said: “I believe because it is absurd.” You don’t have to justify your faith to reason. Faith needs no other justification than the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection of the Son of God is the cornerstone for every hope of recovery. It is a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.

You have every right to say, “I believe I will recover all because God raised His Son to life again.” How will you recover from the loss of a job, a home, a friendship, a marriage, a child? I don’t know. But I do know that God’s grace is able to do far above all that we can ask or think according to the power of His grace at work in our lives.

So, this is my prophecy to you in the day of your loss: Maintain your faith in Jesus Christ, and you will recover all. I can’t predict how or when, but I can tell you that faith will find a way, and you will recover. Your path to recovering all will probably come in a surprising way. God is full of such surprises. God maintains His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises, but He maintains His sovereignty in surprise. So, even though it is incongruous, I will say, expect to be surprised! In the meantime, let the prophetic promise of recovery flood your soul with hope. When God brings to pass your surprising recovery, give Him glory. Yes, He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

Copyright 2009 Brian Zahnd
All rights reserved

Be encouraged, my friend, you are going to recover all!


PS: The picture is Life Tree by Gustav Klimt