Paul the apostle wrote to the Roman saints these words, “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons [mature saints] of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” [Romans 8:19-23].
This was written over 1900 years ago and the birth pangs have only gotten more intense and closer together. What is causing these birth pangs? It is NOT the wrath of God. It is the anxious waiting, groaning and suffering of creation for the day when the mature believers in Christ will be revealed on the earth.
Jesus talked about birthpangs when He described the conditions on the earth as the end of this age comes to a close. Many have understood His statement to mean God was unleashing His fury on a sin filled world. What if Jesus was actually describing the last days environment of need that He would send His sons and daughters into with His supernatural ability?
Nearly everyday now there is some cataclysmic event going on somewhere on the planet. A few months back there was an earthquake in Christ Church, New Zealand. I think we in Christ’s Church should take note of this event. Peter said this, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God” [1 Peter 4:17]?
If we believe God is a vindictive God looking for any excuse to unleash His wrath then we may see this verse as proof of that belief. The word judgment is a judicial term. God is the Judge of the living and the dead. All of God’s judgments are righteous and fair. Judgment may include punishment but it does not necessarily mean that God is the source of the punishment. The Greek word used in this verse can mean the condemnation of wrong, the punishment with which one is sentenced.
But there are other definitions as well. It can mean a decree, the sentence of a judge, a matter to be judicially decided, a case in court. If we believe God to be loving, kind, just, and fair then we can interpret Peter’s statement as God rendering decisions based on the decisions people make for their own lives. God does not control people. He does not even control them through the fear of punishment [See 1 John 4:15-19, especially verse 18].
When a judge hears a case in his court he listens to all of the evidence and then he renders his decision. His decision is determined by the choices the person standing before him has made.
For instance, if a person is charged and found guilty of armed robbery then the judge issues his judgment based on what the law says is just for his crime. If the law says armed robbery is worth 20 years in prison then the judge, in essence says, “You came into agreement with the verdict of 20 years in prison when you committed the crime.” The judge does not punish the guilty, the guilty punish themselves.
The wage of sin is death. There is a death sentence built into sin. The person who sins will die. This truth was instituted in the Garden. The sinner through his sin agrees with the punishment of a life of sin, which is death. Even a Christian, who has been forgiven of all their sin, can release death into their life and environment through sin. Does God punish them? No! They punish themselves!
Going back to what Paul said in Romans 8 we find an interesting phrase, “but because of Him who subjected it”. This phrase is used in the context of creation being held hostage to futility by God. Why would God hold creation hostage, which means against its will? Could it be that God is wanting His sons and daughters to grow up and to be overcomers, just like His Son Jesus?
Paul refers to two levels of maturity in verses 19 and 21. In verse 19 he uses the word huios / hwee-os’ for sons and in verse 21 he uses the word teknon / tek’-non for children.
Huisos’ are those who have proven character and are able to manage themselves in such a way that they can be trusted with their father’s business without constant oversight. Teknon’s are children that are at the age where they can render help to their dad in his business. This word comes from a word that means to be a guardian, an avenger of honor, to punish, to have value by which the price is fixed, and reverence.
Paul is saying that God has tied all of creation’s [His handiwork in the natural world] release from captivity to the maturing process of His kids. God would never have done this if He did not have confidence that we would grow up and take ownership of our [His] world.
We must remember that God is the Creator and therefore has every right to do with His creation what He wants. Job 22:8 says, “But the earth belongs to the mighty man, and the honorable man dwells in it.” This is confirmed by the psalmist in Psalm 115:16, “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, But the earth He has given to the sons of men.”
Daniel said this about the mighty men, “but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” [Daniel 11:32].
As I stated in my blogs DEVASTATE and MAN UP we have an enormous responsibility for what happens here on earth. We can no longer attribute the ills of this world to the wrath of God. We are in a war for the liberation of all creation.
Jesus has already won the victory and He said that we were to occupy until He comes. We must accept our role in occupying until He comes. The purpose of an occupation force is to bring peace. It is also to bring about restoration which leads to transformation.
Heaven will hold Jesus until the restoration of all things.
Come on saints! It is time to arise and shine, for our glory [Jesus] has come. He told us to go just as He was sent. He was sent with the anointing of the Holy Spirit and power. And so are we!
For HIS Glory!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury