Romans 8:19-22 (v19)
19 "For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. 20 "For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope 21 "that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” ()
Last week we were led by God’s Word to see our current state of sufferings in light of the glory that is to be revealed in us in eternity.
And when you tally up the totals, Paul says to us that they are not even worthy to be compared!
Having said that, Paul gives us more reasons which makes it certain that the present order cannot go on forever.
We’re going to begin to look at vv19-22 today as an overview and then we’ll really focus closely on v19.
So Paul says that (in v22) that “the whole creation has been groaning”.
This creation has been under a curse since the fall of man. It is awaiting deliverance from that curse.
It will be delivered at the time when God’s children are openly announced.
At the end of the world there will be a resurrection of the just and the unjust.
How will you know who is who?
The bodies of believers will be changed into the likeness of Christ’s glorious body, as they meet him in the air (; ).
So it will be quite clear who are the children of God. It will be manifestly obvious.
Until then we cannot be infallibly certain who is a child of God and who is not, for there are many counterfeits and apostates in the world.
But then it will be plain to see.
Creation is longing for that day.
It is straining at the neck, like someone in a crowd, longing to see exactly who the sons of God are.
The reason for creation’s anticipation is in v20 "For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope” ()
This is, of course, reference to the curse that came upon creation when mankind sinned.
Creation was immensely productive. It was kind to itself and kind to its masters. It was a paradise. But after the fall came the curse.
Creation became a sufferer and was imbued with futility, decay, and death.
So now at times the forces of nature seem to work against themselves, as well as against man.
So here we are today, doing what? Waiting. Waiting for what? 19 "For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed.” ()
Who’s waiting? Well it’s hard to imagine the good angels as being included because they’re not subjected to the futility of the fall.
Nor can you see the fallen angels eagerly waiting around for their eternal demise to come upon them, when the God’s sons are revealed.
It’s not wicked men. They could care less for these things, and even scoff at them. "... Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires,” ()
It’s not the company of the redeemed, we are mentioned specifically in v23.
It’s actually the whole frame of the universe. Heaven, earth, and the creatures in them.
The whole frame of the universe was first made in that beautiful state for the glory of God and for the use of man.
Well since this it is subject to many changes and at length, it will be subject to destruction.
The earth, and all the bodied in it and on it shall be burnt up like a scroll, but
when the children of God come into that glorious state, everything shall be renewed.
This double compound (in v19) “waits with anticipation” paints a vivid picture of the
hushed expectancy with which the whole creation awaits the disclosure of the coming glory.
So what’s Paul trying to communicate to God’s people?
Well to put it briefly it’s to show us three things.
ONE. It shows that there is an excellent state of happiness that is far beyond what we currently enjoy, that’s provided for God’s children.
TWO. To raise up our expectation. All things shall indeed be carried to their end.
That little seed shall work its way through the dry clods of dirt, that it may turn into the stalk and then the flower.
THREE. To persuade us to patience while we wait. We live in a groaning world. And though things are in disarray and disorder now, at length it shall all be dissolved.
Today we are going to root down into two main biblical thoughts out of v19.
The glorious state and ultimate happiness is hidden for the present.
Olyott, S. (1979). The Gospel as It Really Is: Romans Simply Explained (p. 105). Darlington, England: Evangelical Press.