“Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Romans 8:20-22 NLT
In these verses, Paul brings to the Roman Christians the thought that creation is not just about them. It includes everything God has made. And he makes a shocking statement – God’s curse has blighted everything He has ever created. All because of Adam’s sin. As an aside, we should always be aware that sin has its consequences. But Paul goes on to say that it is not just humans who would like to be relieved of the curse hanging over them. All creation would like to experience curse-relief as well. Freedom from death and decay is right up there as the top creation priority.
God said that mankind would have to work hard to stay alive, as we read in Genesis 3:17-19, “And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return””. As a consequence of Adam’s sin, the ground was cursed, and it has been ever since. As we know, farmers go to extraordinary lengths to grow crops, with fertilisers to encourage growth and introduce the required nutrients into the soil, herbicides to kill and control weeds. Sophisticated farm machinery takes some of the sweat off the task – no more hand digging for example – but things in God’s plan for creation weren’t supposed to be like this. Some have even suggested that “work” of any kind is cursed.
We also read in Genesis 3 that animals were cursed, starting with snakes. Apparently, according to Genesis 3:14, snakes might one day have been more upright. “Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, grovelling in the dust as long as you live.” And from the same verse, the implication is that “all animals, domestic and wild” were cursed.
Paul elaborates on his own “God’s curse” statement by adding that the curse manifests itself in “death and decay”. We, of course, know that every living thing will die and decay one day. As I look around the woods near my home (it’s early March when I am writing this) vegetation has died right back leaving only the hardiest of plants hanging grimly on to what life they can retain. Trees are devoid of leaves, and the fall from last year lies mouldering around the undergrowth. Can I hear it all groaning? In the stillness of my early morning walks, there sometimes seems to be a hint of pain in the air, punctuated only be the occasional birdsong, echoing around the saplings and more mature trees. But, thankfully, Jesus makes all things new in the right season. We read in Isaiah 43:19a, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it … ? In Revelation 21:5a we read, “And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new …”. I know that these two verses are slightly out of context but they illustrate the point that God hasn’t forgotten us. Every year God breathes new life into His creation. We see it around us, as the buds start to swell and leaves slowly appear. Perhaps with a groan and with pain accompanying the new birth.
It won’t be long before the new foliage appears, fresh and green. Flowers start to emerge, blanketing the forest flow with wonderful colours. And this is the world under a curse. Just imagine how much more beautiful Heaven will be, once it is released in “glorious freedom” from the curse of “death and decay”.
Dear Father, You created a glorious world but it is now blighted by sin. We pray for forgiveness for our sins and pray the prayer at the end of Revelation – “Come Lord Jesus”. We look forward to the new Heaven and Earth. Amen.