The Bible bookends with two magnificent images. The first being our creation by God, the perfect Earth he made for us, and our unity with God. The end being our final redemption through the second coming of Christ, our perfect bodies, our perfect new home, and our right standing with God.
3And 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. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. -Revelation 21:3-7
Our first creation was perfect. No doubt about it. Our final creation is also perfect. God tells us he is the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, just like our created habitats. The disheartening part is the middle. The time between these two states of utter glory and perfection. Nothing on this Earth can ever compare to the glory, majesty, and brilliance of being in the prescience of God. So long as we live, we can only imagine what that would be like. Contrary to this, many things in this world can be disheartening, saddening, maddening, and depressing. With war happening all the time, strife between each other, even Christians, murders, rape, kidnapping, pornography, and all of the other evils we encounter in this life, it is easy to be discouraged about the glory of God. That is what Paul is concerned with in this part of his letter.
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
All the writers of the Bible do not deny that we will suffer. Peter focuses on suffering as a major theme in some of his writings.
14But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect… -1 Peter 3:14-15
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. -1 Peter 4:12-13
It is the glory ahead, the righteousness that Christ has made for us that we hope for. My last post dealt with becoming sons, or co-heirs, with Christ in all that is his. Paul expresses creation’s longing for us to become sons of God. This will be the perfection of everything Christ did. This will be at the end. Until then we must keep our hope strong.
20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
The sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden created this problem. God expelled man from His perfection.
16To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
17And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” -Genesis 3:16-19
We weren’t meant to have pain, thorns or thistles, discord between each other, and death. These were the consequences though for our actions. God made us stewards to the planet and he also cursed the planet because of us. This is why Paul personifies creation as groaning. As Christians we groan too. We wait for the fulfillment of our Savior to make this right again. The best part of our groaning is that we know there is a coming answer. We must patiently wait, knowing that God is working in our everyday lives as well as preparing a future for us.
28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28 [Some manuscripts read God works all things together for good or God works in all things for the good.]
1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” -John 14:1-4
If it weren’t enough to have this hope and knowledge that God is working for us always, we get even more encouragement.
26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
The Spirit of God. Take some time to search the Bible and look for the Spirit of God, Holy Spirit, Spirit of of Christ, and the many others names by which He can be called. He is a part of God. He is God. The book Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan goes into great depth about who the Holy Spirit is and His role in our lives. It is a phenomenal insight to the nature of God. One thing he says is this:
“… the Spirit is infinite and cannot be known fully by humans. Know that even as you seek to understand the Spirit more, He is so much more and bigger than you will ever be able to grasp. This is not an excuse to stop seeking to know Him, but don’t limit Him to what you can learn about Him. The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him. Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur.”
We have God dwelling in us each and every second of every day. Helping guide our decisions, pull us through tough times, celebrating with us, teaching us new things. Paul talks bout the Spirit’s interceding for us with God the Father. We pray to God for things we want, for forgiveness, for thanks, for praise, but there are some things we may forget, or we may not know how to ask for them, or can’t seem to put them in words. Praise God the Spirit is there for us. God knows what we need and what we even want thanks to God the Spirit in us. This is part of God working for our good in all things. To top off this hope God knows us.
29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
God sets his love on us. He cleanses us. He glorifies us. The hope yet to come is incredible. The best part of our current state of hope is that God is right there with us. Life is rough and discouraging but we know that there are better things to come in the future when Christ’s full glory is revealed. Come, Lord Jesus.