For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
This verse contains the outline of the paragraph, verses 18-30. Basically, there are two thoughts: 1) the sufferings of the present time, verses 19-27; 2) the glory which is destined to be revealed in us, verses 28-30. In this outline we see three categories of present suffering, described by three “groans:” 1) the groan of nature, verses 19-22; 2) the groan of the maturing believer, verses 23-25 and 3) the groan of the Holy Spirit, verses 26-27. After these three groans, a promise to the maturing believer is given in verse 28. Then, what follows is the glory which is destined to be revealed in us, verses 29-30.
Three things to remember: 1) There is no comparison between suffering as a maturing believer and the rewards and blessings that mature believer receives in eternity; 2) No suffering in maturity is greater than the capacity of doctrine resident in the soul 3) No suffering in maturity is greater than the rewards and the blessings of surpassing grace in eternity.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
Paul used creation to illustrate the longing that the mature believer should have for his eternal home in Heaven. Even the earth is waiting to be restored to its original state before the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.
Anxious longing means confident expectation. The earth will be restored during the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. The material universe stands in an attitude of expectation, waiting for God to work it all out; to work out its “undeserved suffering for blessing.” And even though nature is under a curse at the present time, that curse will be removed at the Second Coming of Christ. So nature, between Adam’s fall and the Second Coming, is under undeserved suffering, a perfect illustration of what is coming up in this paragraph for the mature believer. God demonstrates that happiness can be just as easily related to unpleasant circumstances and that you can be just as happy in suffering as you are in prosperous circumstances. And, that there is no circumstance in this life which is greater than divine provision for the growing believer, the one who is being blessed by undeserved suffering.
The revealing of the sons of God is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ where the Church as the Royal Family of God and the Old Testament believers will be presented in resurrection bodies. The Church receives resurrection bodies at the Rapture. At the Second Coming another resurrection occurs: the Old Testament believers. All are brought together for a big manifestation.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.
This verse begins with a phrase which introduces a cause or a reason for the material universe eagerly anticipating the revealing the sons of God at the Second Coming. For when the Church is presented as the bride, a shocking thing is going to occur with regard to nature or the material universe while the wedding feast is occurring. There is going to be a complete and total change, so that when the Church steps outside from the wedding feast it is going to see a brand new world. When Adam sinned, nature was put under the curse (undeserved suffering) and it continues in that status until the revelation of the sons of God, the Bride of Christ, the Royal Family of God.
Remember that nature, in undeserved suffering, is an illustration of the mature believer in undeserved suffering. It is a reference to that point of time when Adam sinned. (Genesis 3:17) Undeserved suffering came to nature, but it came as a blessing to man because this is the source of our food. Nature was innocent but nature suffered along with man. Futility means emptiness, vacuum, purposelessness and nothingness. Nature was originally perfect but is now void of its original perfection. The time of hope is when, at the Second Coming of Christ, nature is redeemed. (Isaiah 35:1-2)
The material universe suffered when Adam committed the original sin, and since then the material universe has been in bondage, undeserved suffering, waiting eagerly to be delivered at the Second Coming. The undeserved suffering has great blessing connected with it, and that is where we see the glories of nature in agriculture, the food that is produced, and so on. The Second Coming of Christ introduces His millennial reign in which nature will be restored to its pristine beauty in keeping with the perfect environment of the Millennium. Therefore nature anticipates the Second Coming, the time of the revealing of the Royal Family of God in resurrection bodies. Nature shared in the curse of man, therefore nature will share in the glory of the royal family in resurrection. Nature’s subordination to futility is obedience to the integrity of God who has linked the destiny of man with the destiny of the restored earth. The corruption and disorder in nature at the present time, then, represents and parallels the corruption and disorder in man from the sin nature and from spiritual death. The redemption/resurrection of the believer’s body is also accompanied by the redemption of nature in the restored Millennium.
In the Millennium the perfect environment is going to exist because Satan is bound. Demons are removed from the earth and therefore there is no religion in Christ’s kingdom. The absence of religion is absolutely necessary, for religion is a part of human good and evil. Religion combines the functions of human good with evil. Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man by man’s works seeking to gain the approbation of God. So, perfect environment cannot exist as long as Satan is operating in this world. In the Millennium there is optimum spirituality among believers. In that day the believers will take their place as the true aristocracy of life they were intended to be. (Isaiah 65:24; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 14:16,17) In that day the filling of the Spirit will be quite different from the filling of the Spirit today. Israel is restored as a nation in the Millennium. (Isaiah 5:26-30; 10:19-23; 11:11-16; 65:19; Joel 2:16ff; Zechariah 8:20-23) There will be the fulfilment of all the unconditional covenants. (Daniel 9:24) The nations of the earth will enjoy perfect environment under the realm of the universal reign of Jesus Christ. There will be universal peace. (Psalm 46:9; Isaiah 2:4; Hosea 2:18; Micah 4:3) There will be universal prosperity. (Psalm 72:7,16) Free enterprise will operate, and the secret to free enterprise will be competition. Motivation will be competition and profit, an honourable principle. The perfect world government under Christ will exist for the first time. There will be a universal knowledge of God. (Isaiah 11:9) There will be perfect objectivity in the administration of justice, an absolute must for perfect environment. (Isaiah 11:3-4; Psalm 72:12-14) Perfect environment will exist in nature. Creation is released from the bondage of sin. Plant life will abound. Animals will lose their ferocity. (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25) There will be a great human population explosion in the Millennium.
That the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
The corruption of creation is based on Adam’s original sin. The corruption is the trend toward sin, human good and evil. The material universe or nature shares the bondage of Adam, but still points mankind to the existence of God. (Romans 1:20) However, nature’s slavery to corruption results in man having to work for a living. Man must “till the ground.” The material universe shares man’s condemnation through Adam’s original sin. This is why there are thorns in nature. This also explains the crown of thorns which our Lord wore during His crucifixion. Because nature or the material universe is now in slavery to corruption it becomes necessary for God to provide laws for nature as He has provided laws of establishment for corrupt humanity.
Once again, Paul used the Greek word “teknon” for children, which is a reference to believers in the process of growing up spiritually. Christ is the glory of God. The maturing believer is the glory of Christ. Glory in this case means image or representation.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
The material universe shares in the condemnation of man, so the groaning of nature looks back to the fall of man. Nature is like a woman in labor; she is in agony until delivery takes place. The birth occurs at the Second Coming of Christ. In the meantime, there is the intense suffering of nature. The suffering of the material universe illustrates the principle which will be seen in the verses to follow. (Genesis 3:17)
Satan rules this world of corruption. Therefore, he rules the world of corrupted people and corrupted nature. Compared to what Adam ruled over before he sinned in the Garden, Satan rules a pile of rubble. Nature shares, undeservedly, the curse of mankind. But since nature was designed by the Holy Spirit to be mirror the perfection of Adam and Eve, when man lost his glory at the Fall nature had to go along with it. Nature will continue under the curse throughout the rest of the Church Age and the Tribulation. At the Second Coming, nature will be restored to perfect environment during the Millennium. Once the Second Coming occurs, nature’s curse and suffering are terminated permanently.
Therefore, the undeserved suffering of the universe becomes a perfect illustration of the maturing believer in undeserved suffering. I Peter 4:16 refers to the believer suffering undeservedly. When the believer is in fellowship and under the control of God the Holy Spirit he does not have to be ashamed of his suffering. The reason he doesn’t have to be ashamed is that through suffering he can glorify God. God is glorified when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and using the doctrine that we have learned. This, of course, brings inner happiness and peace. When we are able to have happiness and peace in the midst of suffering, we are already blessed.