Creation Waits With Eager Longing

Romans 8:18-25 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And 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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

2014-01-28 - Creation Waits With Eager Longing (IMG_1725_B10_C20)Frozen waterfall on Flat Fork CreekCaesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

For Christians living in North America today, we should be humbled when we compare our own circumstances to all of “the sufferings” that Paul endured for the sake of the gospel.  I won’t deny that we live in a culture increasingly hostile to much of what we believe; but, unless we serve in certain foreign missions or a few difficult ministry fields, I think it is safe to say that few of us will ever face imprisonment, torture, or death for sharing our faith.

Though our present circumstances are far better than Paul’s, we do still live in a fallen world as he reminds us, “the creation was subjected to futility,” it is in “bondage to corruption,” and “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”  This is because of the curse, brought on by the fall, described in Genesis 3:16-19.

16 To the woman he [God] 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.” 17 And 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; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By 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.”

Not only were troubled relationships, pain, and death brought on by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden, all of creation suffered as a result, ”cursed is the ground because of you.”  Fortunately this is not the end of the story.  By God’s divine providence the solution was already planned, as we read one verse earlier in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  This verse speaks of the Messiah who would later come to conquer death and the grave.

Of course Paul knows that Jesus Christ was that promised Messiah and this is to whom he refers when he says, “For in this hope we were saved.”  He also tells us “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” when all of creation is redeemed and the “sons of God” are revealed at the second coming of Christ.  And although he has not seen this glory, he reminds us that “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  In a similar manner, we cannot see the blossoms of spring, and yet we have hope, waiting patiently for their arrival to announce the end of the ice and cold of winter…

2014-01-28 - Creation Waits With Eager Longing (IMG_7192)Springtime view of the waterfall on Flat Fork Creek with the redbuds in bloom.  Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

By the Breath of God Ice Is Given

Job 37:10-13 – By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. 11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. 12 They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. 13 Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.

2014-01-04 - By the Breath of God Ice Is Given (IMG_1749_AC)The waterfall on Flat Fork Creek is nearly frozen over with ice after a bout of sub-zero temperatures.  Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

Today’s passage from the book of Job reminds us that God is sovereign over all of his creation, even the winter weather, for “By the breath of God ice is given.”  One question often asked by those who doubt God’s sovereignty is, how a loving God can let bad things like storms or natural disasters happen?”  Even as Christians we do not always understand God’s purpose behind the events in our own lives, let alone those in the larger world around us.

But, as we read here, God is most certainly in control and his purposes are achieved, for the clouds “turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.”  We also read of some possible reasons behind God’s actions, they may be “for correction or for his land or for love,” even though we may not fully comprehend the reasons at the time.

With prayer, patience, and perseverance perhaps in time we will understand God’s purposes, whether in the little things or the big, or perhaps not.  Either way, in the mean time we need to rest in the hope and promise of Christ and in the words of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

The Bear Shall Graze

Isaiah 11:6-76 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

2013-12-09 - The Bear Shall Graze (IMG_8271)Grizzly bear along the trail to Iceberg Lake.  Glacier National Park, Montana.

(Not my best photography, I’ll admit, but when you are thirty yards from a grizzly bear in the wild, you tend to forget about swapping lenses and adjusting camera settings)

Today’s passage from Isaiah sounds rather absurd to anyone who has hiked in grizzly country, even to those who have not, for that matter.  I suspect that a fear of large predators keeps many people from venturing very far into the wilderness of places like Glacier National Park.  This fear is not totally irrational, just read some of the precautions that hikers and backcountry campers are told to follow.

As beautiful as God’s creation and creatures are, most people understand that there are risks in the outdoors.  And, whether or not a person is aware of the Judeo-Christian concept of the fall, I think everyone will at least acknowledge there are dangers, suffering, and even death in our world.  We live in a fallen world, where everything is corrupted by sin.  As Romans 8:22 tells us, “we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

Faced with an understanding of the effects of the fall, the scenario described by Isaiah seems strange to us in two ways.  First, there is the very unusual behavior of the animals, not something you typically see on nature programs.  And, second there is this seemingly odd notion that “a little child shall lead them.”  Even for Christians it all sounds rather foreign, because we, too, know well the realities of life here on earth.  But, as Christians we are blessed to know who this little child is.  It is the same child, the predicted Messiah, written about in yesterday’s passage from Isaiah 9.

It is the Messiah whose coming we celebrate on Christmas, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is only through his birth, perfect life, and undeserved death on the cross that these impossible sounding things become possible. It is only through his innocent blood shed on the cross that we will some-day be able to experience what we read about in Revelation 21:4, “He 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.”

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© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.