This world can be a better place. God wants everyday people like you and me to make this world just a bit more like heaven.

In one small corner of His grand creation, God created a place that was a lot like heaven. He named it Eden. The Garden State was not just beautiful, it was perfect—a piece of heaven on earth. Pain was absent, poverty was unheard of, food was everywhere, and disease was nowhere … and best of all, everybody (well, all two of them) walked close to God.

However, being the humans we are, things went sideways. We tried to deceive God. This one act, this one moment changed everything. This wrongness called sin began to spread and multiply and reproduce like a mutating virus.1

But here’s the good news in all of this—life can still be beautiful. God is still present, and He’s doing good today through people who love Him and want to love others in the same way His Son loved you and me.

We all have this feeling deep in our souls that life can be different, that life can be so much more beautiful than it is. Families are not supposed to be broken. Children are not supposed to be abandoned when their mothers die from AIDS. Fathers are not supposed to lose their jobs. Women are not supposed to be held back because of their gender. And people should never experience prejudice because of their race.

God has a more beautiful way.

John Ortberg, in his deeply insightful way, explains the rich meaning behind the ancient Hebrew word shalom.2 The Old Testament prophets spoke about a coming day when God would change the way things are and make this world beautiful again; to describe this, the Jews used the word shalom.3 The word literally means “to be perfect or complete.” When the Jews dream about peace they use the word shalom. When King David wrote about peace, he used the word shalom. The word can mean safe. Or maybe this says it best—when life is just right. — Palmer Chinchen, True Religion (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010).

I have just completed a seven-part Bible Study called Ancient Words. It explores seven key Hebrew words we need to understand in order to really understand the gospel. This article is an excerpt from this Bible study. The Bible Study is available on Amazon. It is also avail as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

This service is like Netflix for Bible Lessons. You pay a low monthly, quarterly or annual fee and get access to all the lessons. New lessons that correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines are automatically included, as well as a backlog of thousands of lessons. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking, as well as answers from well-known authors such as David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll and Max Lucado. For more information, or to sign up, click here.