“It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.”
“It is the question that drives us.” I can relate to that. During a season of deep and intense study of Romans 8, God birthed in me questions, burning questions. Questions which caused me to search everywhere for answers. The questions kept me up late at night and woke me early in the morning. My pursuit for answers was relentless. I found only more questions. I could not get away from these questions. I could not let it rest until I had answers to these questions. For years now, when I try to study on other subjects, wherever I go in scripture, I am brought back to the questions. Every passage of scripture I go to has been linked back to these questions. The questions are simple:
Where are the sons of God? When will they be revealed?
These questions are not original to me. They are the very longing of all creation. Since the fall of man, all of creation has asked, “Where are the sons of God? When will they be revealed?”
Look at what Paul wrote in Romans 8:19-21
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” – Romans 8:19-21 NIV
Why is creation waiting for the sons of God? To us, this present state of creation feels normal; we cannot imagine creation in a different state from how we presently know it to be. However, in the beginning, things were very different. Before sin, there was no death, no sickness, and no lack. There was no decay. Nothing ever broke down or wore out. Life on earth was not sustained by sunlight, water, and oxygen as they are today. The glory of God was the very life blood of creation. All of creation was bathed in the radiant light of the glory of God. Everything communed with God and was sustained by Him in that fellowship.
We see a small glimpse of this in the Old Testament where the presence of God’s glory was manifest in the midst of the children of Israel. During that time, there was no sickness, no hunger, and no lack. Their clothing did not wear out. We see further evidence of this where Moses was fellowshipping with God on the mountain for forty days and nights. Moses did not eat, drink, nor sleep for 40 days. The very tangible presence of the glory of God sustained him. In the presence, Moses took on the nature of God’s person. Brilliant, radiant light shown forth from Moses’ skin. It was so bright the people had to cover his face with a cloth to see him and talk to him. Scripture says at his death, his eyes were not dimmed. He had no cataracts, no glaucoma, no macular degeneration, no nearsightedness, no eye problems whatsoever at 120 years old. Even to his last breath, he was a picture of youthful, vitality. Take this small measure of a single man radiantly exuding God’s glory, and imagine the same thing for every created thing: every rock, every plant, every animal; all of creation communing with God, sustained by God, and radiating the brilliant light of God’s person.
This scene is hard to imagine as we have no framework in place of anything remotely close to which we can compare. The most beautiful, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, perfect-10 places on earth in this present state would be a zero compared to the most mundane thing in the pre-sin earth. With modern technology and applications like Adobe’s Photoshop, we see photos that are too perfect to be real. We think there is no way that scene can exist in real life on this earth. The lighting is too perfect. Colors do not exist in that vibrancy and saturation with such clarity. This has to be fake. Yet what we are seeing is a small glimpse into what the pre-sin earth was like. The colors were more brilliant and more vivid than they are today. Clarity, focus, and sharpness increased. The quality of light, sound, and smell far surpassed that of today. Yet, no matter how breathtakingly surreal or unreal a photo becomes, Photoshop can never come close to touching what earth was like before sin.
When sin entered creation, everything changed. We know about what happened to humanity. Cut off from God, we became contaminated by a sin nature and began to die. Murder, sickness, and all manner of ills came forth. Brokenness and decay came to exist. We were put under the curse of the law of sin and death and toiled in our labors. However, humans were not the only beings impacted by sin. We do not often think about the impact of sin upon the rest of creation. Everything which happened to humans also happened to the rest of creation, only more so. The magnitude of sin on creation was far greater than what happened to mankind.
Consider how in one moment plants were full of radiant life, communing with the living God, and sustained by His very person; the very next moment they were separated from God, having to find sustenance from sun light, and having to die to provide sustenance for humans and for animals. They became subjected to disease, death, and to the wicked desires of humanity. Some became covered in thorns; some became poisonous and harmful. Altered by sin, the nature of plants became contaminated and enslaved to sin.
Every type of herbivore was forced to eat the life of a plant to live and to surrender its life in order to sustain the life of another. Every type of carnivore became an agent of death, so that in their present nature, they now have no choice but to kill in order for their lives to be sustained. Their lives are sustained by death. Decomposers like vultures did not eat death before sin. Before sin, there was no death; they communed with God and drew life from fellowship with Him. After sin, the decomposers were made to eat the rotting, diseased carcasses of dead animals, so that death and disease were not spread throughout the earth. All life on earth became sustained by death and perpetuates the cycle of death on the earth.
Some species of plants and animals have suffered so much under the curse of sin they can no longer be found alive on the earth today. They have suffered extinction so that not even one of their kind knows life. From the grave, they long to be restored and to be in communion with God, and their voices can still be heard crying out for the sons of God to be revealed.
Even the lifeless things of creation such as rocks, water, air, light, sound, every atom, time, and all forms of energy also had their nature changed. They became muddled and polluted by sin, cut off from fellowship with God. These things became dumb, mute, and lifeless things. I fully believe before sin, they had voices and cried out praises unto God. Many people who died and returned from the dead have testified this to be true in heaven. Rocks and grass and every created thing were singing praises unto God. Colors were more vivid. Sounds were crisper. Isaiah does not give us a metaphor when he says the mountains and hills will burst into songs and the trees of the fields will clap their hands. His declaration glimpses a time past when creation had voices. These are now lifeless and voiceless, contaminated by sin, and have become the tools of men to perpetuate sin and death on the earth.
Creation has forever had imprinted upon it the memory of the glory of God and of a time before sin when its nature was different from what we know today. It longs to be redeemed and be restored to its original state. Where are the sons of God? When will they be revealed?
Let it be now. Let it be me.