This is first in a series on the subject matter of the rapture or the catching away of the saints. While we shall subsequently be looking at ‘Different Groaning of Different Creatures’, ‘Manifestation of the Sons of God’, ‘The Manner of the Catching Away’, and ‘A Glorious Dawn!’ we start here with the earnest expectation of the creature: as it has to do with the rapture, being the first huge step or stage in the manifestation of the sons of God.
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” – Romans 8: 19-27.
Romans Chapter 8: 19-27 is very critical to the subject matter of the rapture. The brilliantly stunning, amazing or even awe-inspiring perception it gives to discerning pilgrims, represent tonic for all that fear the Lord to stir themselves even further up from the things that influence or shackles many on this side of eternity as they wait for their Lord to come and take them home. This is our key verses in this series. And verse 19, and indeed the first part of it, will presently get more of our attention in this first part of the series.
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God” – Romans 8: 19. The rapture of the saints is implied here. This is the time when sons of God (and by now eternal sons actually) shall be unveiled. The rapture ushers these saints to the eternal purpose of God for creating and putting them on this earth in the first place.
But we read of not just those to be raptured earnestly expecting the manifestation of the sons of God but a larger whole called the ‘creature’. What is it? And of this we are not just only told that it is ‘waiting’ or ‘expectantly waiting’ but ‘earnestly expectantly waiting’ for the manifestation of the sons of God. What does it mean to wait, to wait expectantly and earnestly so? And why! What really is earnestness? These shall attract our attention in this part of this series.
The Creature of God: What is it!
The word ‘creature’ used here is from the Greek word ktisis which also translates as ‘creation’ as in Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; Romans 1:20; Romans 8:22; 2 Peter 3:4; Revelation 3:14; as ‘building’ as in Hebrews 9: 11; as ‘ordinance’ as in 1 Peter 2: 13; and, of course, as ‘creature’ as in Mark 16:15; Romans 1: 25; Romans 8:19-21, 39; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 1:15, 23; Hebrews 4:13. So, as we take our excerpt of Romans Chapter 8 as this series unfolds we must bear these different interpretations in mind.
The ‘creature’ in the non-restrictive, general sense implies anything and everything that God created. And all of this is earnestly waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. Why? Their final wellbeing i.e. realization of the original plan and goal of their creation depends or ties to the manifestation of the sons of God. With the fall of man came the curse which they also became partakers of in one way or the other. With the final redemption of man which the rapture signals comes the restoration of all things. And the ‘creature’, even in this broadest sense, earnestly craves for that restoration of all things, something that affects them for good eternally; and so cannot but be more earnest to hear, as it were, the first bell: that is, the manifestation of the sons of God. Though mortals, those of us with flesh and blood may not understand or have insight into this earnestness of the ‘creature’ in this broadest sense; but sure they are.
In this sense, therefore, nature (the physical world including natural phenomena and living things) unexplainably know that things are not what they ought to be with it (nature). The curse of sin robbed off on it as well. It knows that its freedom is tied to the freedom of God’s elect; those to be manifested, which the rapture kick-starts. So, all things in nature unexplainably are earnestly waiting for this manifestation; this being the hope of their freedom. For example, the Ozone depletion with the scotching heat that the sins of men, inventions of sin or wrong usage of good inventions brought is unnatural to nature. The earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes and the sundry deadly natural disasters are abnormal to nature and creation. The pollutions of the air or atmosphere, waters and what have you; and of sound pollutions too: all of which are product of sin pollution, are a matter of huge concern to nature because this is not how God intended things to be. Nature is looking for a day it shall be free. That day is just in the corner with the rapture!
Finis Jennings Dake says verse 19 of Romans 8 refers to the whole creation “waiting for the removal of the curse”; and by that I suppose he meant that with the rapture soon comes the millennium reign of Christ here on earth (with Satan confined to the bottomless pit or abyss) when things would return to God’s original state in the first instance for a thousand years (because Satan shall be loosed just after that for a season) and in the New Heaven and New Earth when it (the curse with all it occasioned) will forever be gone.
The creatures are pained by many satanic strongholds in the air, sea, land and wherever. They’re pained by the various evil spiritual networks and systems superimposed on them by evil forces. ‘When shall we be free from these’, they seem to say! The rapture of the saints is the beginning of the answer. And so, they earnestly wait! The creation is looking forward to the day of its freedom which is tied to our freedom in the first place. If they are so eager and earnest, how much more should we!
The great day that Peter spoke of is being earnestly anticipated by nature for it represents its freedom: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” – 2 Peter 3: 10. When this happen the earth will return to God’s purpose and nature knows that it will be better for it. It is the rapture that leads to that. If nature is that anticipatory, how much more should men who’re the cynosure of all and centre of God’s creation here on earth!
Then in a general and yet a little bit still restrictive sense, ‘the creature’ refers to all beings created by God (everything that has breath); and that subsumes angels (holy angels), man and the animal world and all that has breath. Of God’s holy angels and man or humanity we shall speak later. The animal world is earnestly waiting the manifestation of the sons of God. Their escape from the curse that came with the sin of man depends on the m
anifestation of the sons of God. The final freedom of man opens up their own hope. Indeed, all that God created the rapture signals the beginning of the realization of their hope or what they originally were created to be. The wolf, lion, leopard, and viper and other creatures like them may be looking ahead to the days Isaiah spoke of in Isaiah 11:6-9:
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea”.
Then, again, the ‘creature’ or creation of God in a restrictive sense refers to humanity (the physically dead and the physically living), and angelic beings (holy and faithful angels minus fallen angels), but not the animal world. These all, are in earnest expectation and waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. There is a part of the physically alive human being that is yearning for what we are here talking about, but which sin, the flesh and evil spirits ensure does not play itself to the visible grasp of the intellect. Yes, the spirit of man is thoroughly searching for a vent to let out, but caged. It wants freedom, and wants to return to its God; wants to be among those returning to their Creator at the last trump of God: but chained and imprisoned! The unending and very piercing thought of the spirit of man is to be with God when the sons of God are being manifested; it knows there is a summoning last trump, even the trump of God that will call forth, and indeed call back home all the spirits of men that made their ways right with His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, which spirits He gave to them in the first place. It knows there is a going back to its Creator; but is it in a place to hear that glorious call; a come-home call, that the rapture is actually about? At this stage many departed spirits will not hear that call you know. Only those ready for their Creator, though dead and buried will hear during the rapture. But others will hear at some other times, but to judgment!
And lastly, and in a very special and most restrictive way, the ‘creature’ at times refers to those that are born-again and living holily and wholly for Christ: the spiritual body of Christ or the building of God. May God help you and me to be here and to remain here! So, we must make the point again: As we read Romans 8: 19-27, bear in mind that any of this various meanings may be inferred or indicated anywhere the word occurs. The New Living Translation even comes clearer with Romans 8: 18-30 (which it subtitled, Future Glory). It reads like this:
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. All creation anticipates 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. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children,* including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For, if you already have something, you don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently. And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together* for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory.” The subject matter of ‘groaning’, also very critical to this series, will come up in another part of this series. Here, we now want to consider ‘earnestness’.
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” The Greek: apekdechomai, which translates ‘wait for’ as in Romans 8: 19, 23, 25; 1Corinthians 1: 7; Galatians 5: 5, also translates ‘look for’ as in Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 3:20. All creatures are earnestly expecting and eagerly waiting for those who shall be eternally sons of God, those that the Blood of God’s begotten Son has made the purchased possession of the Almighty God through His vicarious sacrifice. Among the creature of God, from the most restrictive to the broadest sense of the word, the rapture is the greatest ‘subject matter’ in the whole of the universe, and very intensely so.
The word ‘earnest’ here is apokaradokia meaning ‘anxious looking with outstretched body’. This is what the ‘creature’ of all classes is engaged in. It has been so – innate and integral with the ‘creature’– since the fall of man. With the ‘creature’, it has been anxious looking with outstretched body expecting the manifestation of the sons of God.
You are familiar with outstretched neck. Something serious must be going on out there when men outstretch their neck. They want to avoid everything that veil their view and obscure their comprehension of the unfolding event. They want to be glued to what they want to see. Some other times you see men looking through the window with outstretched necks to see into the action of the moment. So earnest you can see head and neck out; one full and complete hand out, and all of the other hand out but palm hooked to an object; and shoulder and upper half of their bodies out too. And if you are inside with this observer, one of his legs may well be lifted up and stretched out backward and the other standing on its toe. No distraction, all focus! Stretched out; totally outstretched!