Thursday, July 21, 2011

Romans 8 and When will the Creation be released from bondage

In a few fascinating verses in Romans 8 we read about the Creation. Is it not the physical earth that was subjected to a curse due to Adam and Eve's sin in Genesis 3? And yet here in 8:21 that "the Creation itself "(emphatic ) "will be" not maybe, or symbolically, "delivered" ( just as we await the certainty of a resurrected physical body ) "from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God"

This is mind boggling. We know from context that the children of God are those who call out to God "abba Father" 8:15. It is all those who are heirs with Christ, who have received adoption. It is hard not to make it any clearer, Paul says in 8:17 "if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together."

And in all this God has subjected the Creation in hope!

And in verse 21 Paul links the Creation's release from bondage with the presence of the children of God, their glorious liberty or release.

So the question that arises for me is "when shall this occur?"

Certainly we do not yet see the Creation released from bondage. It is indeed groaning as he says in verse 22. and then he goes on to speak of the first fruits of the Spirit. An investigation of this use of "first fruits" could indeed bring forth fruit! Paul has used the term in 1 Cor 15 to draw a very apt implication about Christ's resurrection body and our physical resurrected body as guaranteed by His resurrection. For in the Old Testament the first fruits were the first ripe sheaf of the harvest that belonged to God and were to be offered to Him before the rest of the Harvest could be used. Lev 23. And furthermore it was offered the first day after the Sabbath during Passover, which we know was the very day Christ rose from the dead. So is Paul suggesting something along similar lines here in Romans 8? Here in the Spirit we have downpayment, one who helps us while we are yet still awaiting redemption of our body, who helps us in prayer and himself makes intercession regarding the content of what we pray.

Now some may argue that this deliverance from Bondage of the Creation that Paul is referring to is when God creates a new heavens and a new earth. That could be so, but it requires quite a bit of solid argument. When Paul compares the bondage of the earth, he says it "was subjected" and then clearly says that God himself is the one who will release it from bondage. That nature won't restore itself but it is God who will restore it, the very same one 'who long ago subjected it to corruption and futility' as MacArthur says.

This suggests to me it is not speaking here of the new heaven and new earth , though admittedly that whole topic needs fleshing out, still I take it the restoration is of the present creation, not the making of a new one.

And in that case I ask, when will this release from Bondage happen? Will it be on Christ's return as Judge of Heaven and Earth, and as Amillennialists suggest in the quick few seconds or hours that occur before all is wrapped up?

Is it not intriguing that the chapters that many Amillennialists struggle with, namely Romans 9-11 come immediately after this passage? The continuity of thought from Romans 8 on should provoke us to investigate more carefully what is being said in Romans 8 and how that relates to Romans 9-11.

As for me, it seems thoroughly consistent with a 1000 year millennium where Christ as the second Adam reigns as King, fulfilling those great offices of Prophet, Priest and King. A King who fulfills perfectly the role of Adam to be viceregent over all the earth, which Adam gave up in the calamity of Genesis 3.

The peace of a restored Creation are perfectly pictured in Isaiah's picture of the wolf and the lamb lying down together, at peace with one another. Isaiah 11:6

In Christ,

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