Sunday, March 13, 2011

And So Creation Groans...

The death toll was 48 yesterday morning when I went outside to work in the yard. By this morning when I went to worship, it was thousands. Now in the quiet of evening, it's more than 10,000...but officials expect that number to spiral upwards as the word "missing" is replaced with "dead." One article stated, "In one town alone, only 15,000 out of 75,000 were able to evacuate; the rest remain missing."

"Missing" is a safe, inkling-of-hope word that covers the horror of death covering Japan's shores this weekend. It's not just an entire family that's gone, not even an entire building--we're talking an entire city that had only 15 minutes' notice the end was near.

50,000 people (or more), just swept out to sea...gone. I don't know how to grasp the magnitude of that. My mind simply cannot wrap around that huge a loss.

But my mind can grasp the meaning behind this disaster. I don't even have to ask, "Oh Lord, why? I know.

Creation is groaning.

In Disney's movie Pocahontas, the lyrics in one song read, "You think you own whatever land you land on / The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim / But I know every rock and tree and creature / Has a life, has a spirit, has a name."

That's not how we Christians tend to think of the earth because we try so hard to distance ourselves from other cults that worship creation, itself, instead of the Creator.

Mankind does have an effect on creation. But more than that, we need to recognize that God's creation is a living entity with feelings, emotions, and a purpose.

Several key Scriptures indicate some of the roles creation plays in God's kingdom.

1. Creation cries out when mankind is not giving glory to God.

In Luke, the pharisees encourage Jesus to make his crowd of followers tone it down a bit and stop yelling things like, "BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Jesus replies, "'I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!'" (Lk. 19:38, 40).

These words were prophetic, for several days later when Christ hung on the cross, when most all his disciples had run to hide...when no one was speaking words to glorify His name, creation stepped up and did just that.

The sun cried out the only way it could--by refusing to shine: "Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour"(Matt. 27:45).

Then, the tectonic plates of the earth cried out by shifting in a great earthquake while the rocks literally cried out by breaking apart: "the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised" (Matt. 27:51-52).

2. Creation groans for the return of Christ.

We tend to forget that in Genesis 3 when mankind sinned, Adam and Eve weren't the only ones punished. Creation was also cursed as a result. God said, "Cursed is the ground because of you" (Gen. 3:17).

In other words, just as we are enslaved by sin, creation, too, has been enslaved by the consequences of sin and death...and it longs to be set free, liberated from its bondage to death and decay.

Paul writes, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly 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 also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now" (Rom. 18-22).

3. Creation mourns over sin.

Hosea writes that "There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns" (Hos. 4:2-3)

God even sent a prophet to speak to the land as it mourned, sharing with it a vision of fruitfulness and vindication for its mistreatment. He told Ezekiel, "Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the valleys, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and in My wrath because you have endured the insults of the, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown" (Ez. 36:6-9).

If God knows the names of the stars, why not the names of every tree? every rock? every grain of sand?

When the earth shakes, creation is glory of Christ our King, in frustration at its bondage to decay, in anticipation of Christ's return, in sadness over mankind's sin.

Photo from The Earth from Above. "Mountainous countryside near Maelifellssandur, Myrdalsj√∂kull Region, Iceland. Once the young lava fields of Iceland cool down, life begins anew little by little. Ice, wind and water flatten and carve out shapes to begin with, then, during the summer, bacteria, lichen and fungi prepare the soil for plants, in particular mosses which adapt to an environment which remains difficult. These plants colonise the most favourable sites and terrain little by little, forming a new ecosystem" (© Yann Arthus-Bertrand).

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I should take a lesson from creation and mourn as well - cry that God is not glorified, groan for His return, mourn over sin - in my own life as well as all of mankind. Good thoughts.