*In these snippets posts I share some of the fruits of my study in a given week as I prepare to preach. These are brief outlines of main points. Think of it as a short commentary on a passage without the application that would be made in preaching.
- Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
1. ‘Creation’ refers to irrational and inanimate creation. Not rational humans, angels, or fallen angels.
2. Irrational and inanimate creation, as we saw in the previous post, is personified as ‘on tiptoe’ and ‘groaning’ for the return of Christ and the resurrection and glorification of mankind.
3. The creation has been subjected to futility and decay because of man’s sin, yet, personified again, it has hope of renewal
4. Objection: Isn’t everything going to burn?
- 2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 ¶ Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
We must finish the passage:
- 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This ‘burning,’ then, must be the fire of purification and refinement rather than complete destruction. The ‘dissolved’ heavens and earth will become, or be replaced by, a ‘new heavens and a new earth.’
5. Jesus Christ speaks of this as ‘the regeneration’:
- Matthew 19:28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world (regeneration), when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The old heavens and earth will be regenerated, born again, and become new.
6. Biblical sketch of the regeneration:
A. The Heavens
- At least four times in Scripture we read of ‘new heavens’ (Isaiah 65:17,22; 2Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:1).
- Four times in Revelation Christ is said to hold the ‘seven stars’ in his hand (Rev. 1:16, 20; 2:1; 3:1). These stars are explicitly said to be ‘the angels of the seven churches’ (1:20). Yet the symbolism involved is possibly that of the seven planets of ancient cosmology (C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy is built loosely on this concept. The important idea is that the image displays Christ closeness to, and care and concern for, the galaxy. Many other passages of Scripture could be quoted to describe God’s intimate knowledge of, and care for, the heavens.
B. The Earth
- As above, a ‘new earth’ is spoken of multiple times in Scripture.
The earth is often personified as playing apart in the coming of that Day, for example:
- Psalm 98:8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
- Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
C. Things of the earth: Animals (for extended treatment see HERE)
1. Animals are included in the Covenant of Grace via the Noahic Covenant and are protected from the waters of wrath in the ark. The ‘bow in the clouds’ is just as much a sign for them as for us:
- Genesis 9:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations
2. In the new covenant, Jesus explicitly declares all animals ceremonially clean:
- Mark 7:19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.)
- Acts 10:15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
3. Language of animals in the new created order is repeatedly used in Scripture:
- Isaiah 11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
- Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.
- Christ himself is depicted in the vision of Revelation as both a Lion and Lamb (Rev. 5:5-6), which would be nonsensical without the existence of the actual creatures. There continuing existence will point to his glory.
D. Things on the earth: Plants
- We are invited to the future ‘marriage supper of the Lamb’ which will, of course, entail food (Rev. 19:9), and specifically plants. Grapes and grain will surely be involved:
- Luke 22:15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Objection: What about death? Don’t plants have to die to become food? Answer: Biblically, death entails the shedding of blood:
- Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood…
Plant death is in a different category than that spoken of so often in Scripture. It is considered natural rather than unnatural, since plants were eaten in pre-fall Paradise:
- Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…”
But the great hope: God and the Lamb will be in the midst:
- Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
That is the day that all of creation is on its tiptoe, and groaning, to see. On that day all creation will experience the liberty of the sons of God. The gospel is for us, but it is much bigger than us – it is for all of creation in some sense. In our renewal, the creation will be renewed on account of the work of Christ.