“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” – Romans 8:18-21
There’s something amazing here. Particularly, it’s a glory that is so magnificent that it makes all of the sufferings of these present times seem trivial when set side-by-side (Romans 8:18). None of the flood-damage in Louisiana, none of the villages ransacked by ISIS, none of the 50 million murdered babies, none of the drug addictions, none of the house fires, none of the punches or the bullying—even when all combined throughout the history of this Earth—will seem to matter to us when we are introduced to this glory. Every ache, every pain, every tear will be swallowed up by this glory and any attempt to compare the two will make our sorrow here in this life seem like the most meager price to pay for such a reward. And the shocking thing is that I am not at all minimizing the suffering that’s going on in the world. Things really are as horrible as they seem and probably even more so than we realize, but just as horrible as things are now, the weight of glory awaiting us will be a million times heavier.
Let me try to show you.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from the bondage of corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21). This passage of Scripture is profound because it tells us quite a few things:
- “The creation was subjected to futility.” The fall of Adam and Eve in the garden didn’t just introduce sin into the hearts of mankind but it also affected all of creation. Sin taints every aspect of the universe. The most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen is actually a disfigured portrait of something that was once much more beautiful. Stars are not a bright as they should be and oceans are not as blue as they once were. The whole creation exists in a diminished state of beauty.
- “Not willingly, but because of him who subjected it.” Some have said that the “him” in this passage refers to Adam who plunged all of creation into sin when he disobeyed God’s command to abstain from the tree. But I don’t think that interpretation is the strongest. It’s actually God who subjected the creation to its current futility. The strongest indicator of this is that this subjection was done “in hope.” Adam disobeyed God out of rebellion, not hope. Only God was capable of orchestrating the events of the fall as a means of looking to fulfill a hope of something greater. Which leads us to the next point…
- “In hope that the creation itself will be set free from the bondage of corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” And this is the most profound statement here. If you’ll remember, each day of God’s work of creation was approved by the Creator as “good” with man being considered by God as “very good.” The creation as it was initially brought forth by God was wholly pleasing to Him. But when sin entered the picture, God, having already orchestrated a plan to redeem mankind before He even laid the foundations of the Earth (Ephesians 1:4), then decides to bring creation in on this whole ordeal and also allow it to obtain the same “freedom of the glory of the children of God.” God, who created a world that was wholly pleasing to Him, a world that was completely untouched by sin and futility, looked ahead at what would come and considered it as something far better. We can’t imagine what the pre-corrupted beauty in this world was like, we only know the illusory facade that it is now, but however amazing this sinless creation was, it wasn’t as amazing as the redeemed order that is awaiting us.
We understand that the Bible refers to this enhanced creation as the New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:1). This is a place where God will dwell in the presence of man. With his own hand He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Having already overcome death by the resurrection of the Son, death will not exist in this place, nor will there be any mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore. All of these things will have passed away (Revelation 21:3-4).
Can you imagine the sunsets in this place? Can you imagine the colors and the smells and the sounds? Nothing will be corrupted by sin, but yet this is nothing at all like the sinless creation in Genesis 1, this is far greater than that! What kind of beauty will our eyes behold? Oceans will roar mightier than they ever have and mountains will soar taller than ever before. Never before will we have tasted water so pure nor food so satisfying. Our wildest dreams will not even be able to even hint at the splendor that the skies will contain.
And yet we haven’t even gotten close to what the glory that will be revealed to us is. No, there is still something greater in that city that is awaiting us; something beyond all comprehension.
“The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
Its lamp is the Lamb.
God, who dwells in light unapproachable (1 Timothy 6:16), will dwell with man. The inhabitants of this city, the righteous, will shine like the sun (Matthew 13:43). The stars in the sky will glow a million times brighter than time has ever known, but even in all of this, Christ will shine brighter still.