19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:19-22)
As we keep working through Romans, we see that the result of sin entering the world has had major implications. It has cursed mankind to eternal separation from God and shown that without Divine intervention (Jesus) there is nothing we can do about it. Much of this book has laid that out in great links. But in this brief passage, we see that this sin problem has done much more than that. Not only has it screwed up things for humanity, it has screwed up things for everything else as well. This passage is talking about sin’s effect on creation. The first thing we must look at is what type of creation this is referring to. This is a specific part of creation that I think many of us tend to overlook.
We can deduce that the creation referred to here is not any form of humanity. We know it cannot be talking about non-believers, because a non-believer could care less about the glory of God. It is also not talking about believers, because Paul goes on later in verses 23-25 to describe our groaning
“23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. “
It can also be affirmed that he is not talking about angels, because they do not experience any bondage or decay as a result of sin. So, now we must see that this groaning of creation is done by the actual creation; the earth, the universe, etc. There is something hanging in the balances for the trees, water, plants, etc. that is dependent upon the glory of the Lord being revealed. This eager anticipation creates a void between Creator and creation that was caused in the exact instance that the fall took place.
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
(Genesis 3: 19)
Cursed is the ground. Up until studying this passage, I had always looked at this from the human perspective and not the dirt perspective. The ground is cursed, so that means you (Adam/ Me) will have to toil for it to produce fruit whereas before it was just there for the picking. After all, that is exactly what the curse states, but like everything else, this is not just about me! It goes deeper. If the wages of sin is death and death does not enter the world until sin was committed, then the death sentence applies to everything including plants, animals, and mountains; everything that God has created. Trees die, mountains erode, water gets tainted, and all this happens because of sin. This, of course is not fair for the trees. We see in verse 20 that “…the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it…”
It was God’s will for this to happen. This part of creation essentially became guilty by association through Adam’s sin because he was placed in charge of it. When he became cursed, everything under his authority became cursed as well. Now, like those that seek after the Lord, the whole of creation’s true glory will not be found until the true liberation takes place. In Colossians 1, Paul shows us Jesus’ supremacy, which also points to His pupose.
“15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)
Verse 20 here states that “…through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross…” Here again we see that Jesus’ reconciling work done on the cross is for more than just those that make the choice to accept its healing. This reconciliation affects the things of this earth that cannot choose as well. Like our reconciliation, it has not been complete and will not be made complete until we are glorified. We will look at our longing for that next time, but it is apparent to me through this passage, that not just believers have this longing.
“6The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)
21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)
The whole universe is literally depending on Jesus’ triumphant return.