The Rapture (2): Different Groaning of Different Creatures
By Eferovo Igho
In our previous or first work in this series on the rapture or catching away of the saints we dealt with earnest expectation of the ‘creature’ and how it eagerly awaits the manifestation of the sons of God. We did say then that ‘earnest’ means a complete outstretch of the body, and that ‘earnest expectation’ should therefore mean a complete outstretch of the body in expectation – and in the context of Roman 8: 19 and of our work – of the manifestation of the sons of God. As crucial and serious a lesson as that was, the ‘creature’ (as defined variously in that work) is involve in more than earnest expectation and eager waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. It is engaged in something else perhaps more crucial and instructive as far as the rapture is concerned. It groans!
The whole creation of God groans. And the saints and those to be manifested as sons of God groan too. But we shall take them one after the other. We take the groaning of the entire creation of God in this part, and of the saint in the subsequent part. After that we shall look at the manifestation of the sons of God. And thereafter two more parts and we would be done with the rapture.
Completing a Serious Angle Story
So, even though the urge may be to go ahead talking about the manifestation of the sons of God; there is a compelling need to finish the serious lesson we can have from the side of the ‘creature’ or the whole of creation vis a vis our own rapture. It is a permissive suspense, and could be a rewarding one for those who really want to make the rapture! We must learn from the ‘creature’ if peradventure we ourselves may be more serious than we are now and get more ready for that soon manifestation of the sons of God; for indeed the Lord cometh! He comes to take away His own.
The ‘creature’ actually groans. It groans! In the matter of the rapture and of its resultant freedom; that is, freedom from the curse, the creature groans. It groans to be free and loose from the age-long curse, bondage, helplessness and satanic manipulations brought upon it because of the sins of men. We may need therefore to consider our verses of Romans Chapter 8 briefly.
“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.
The ‘Creature’ Groans
We crave you read again The New Living Translation version: “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” – Romans 8: 18-30.
The story of humanity (creation, sin and bondage, and deliverance by grace and glorious eternity with God) is powerfulFly and revealingly summarized here. In verse 20 we read: “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.” “Vanity” here is mataiotes in the Greek, and means disappointing misery. “Men became vain willingly, but became subject to misery unwillingly” – Finis Jennings Dake. Verse 21 says: “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” “This refers to the renovation of the heavens and earth by fire when creation will be rid of all bondage of corruption and made new for the eternal perfect state” – Finis Jennings Dake. And in verse 22 we read: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now”.
The New Living Translation came real clear on this: “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 that day starts with the rapture, when God takes away His own to Heaven to prepare and equip them to come back with Him to start His new agenda on earth and make all things new.
All creation groans in pain; all of nature groan in anticipation of freedom; and all creation groan for the time when God makes all things new, when creation will return in situ or back to how God made it and intended it. All creation (everything that has breathe, the trees and all plants and vegetation, even the seas and all water courses, the air and indeed all that God made and put on earth) anticipate that day: a day they will join the children of God in glorious freedom from filth, decay and death. They groan; they yearn for it! They are tired of the evil use Satan and his hosts have put it (nature) into. They are tired of how men have misused it with their so-called scientific discoveries and polluted it with their inventions. They are tired of the curse and all that came with and by it.
They are even tired of the toil and labor men have to go through to get their so-called best, which is no best at all, from it. They want to really yield and give their best without encumbrance and without men endangering it with all kinds of labor and ‘inventions of their fancy’.
They are looking for that day the curse of Adam would be finally taken away from them; and not just from men only. And that day begins with the rapture. It is not surprising therefore that they not only earnestly expect and seriously wait for the manifestation of the sons of God or the rapture, but they also groan! And if they groan how much more should we?
Of groaning of the Creature and Men’s sins
Some think or suggest that the increased deadly earthquake and other natural disasters in our age may be due to increased sin. Is there any correlation? Some others think that it is possible that the increased disasters may well be part of the expressions of the groaning of nature? Can that be a statement of fact? Or could even both suppositions be correct? They are food for thought.
But we cannot really deny that something is drastically wrong with nature today that was not there at creation. And if so, nature wants to be free. Do you know that Noah walked into the Ark with all sorts of animals including the lion and all the so-called dangerous animals we have with us today? Either they were divinely altered then as to be able to go with Noah into the Ark or their nature has not become as dangerous as they are today. Either way a point is made: If altered in Noah’s days, they will be altered and perfectly so when Jesus will come the second time to rule the earth (and Scripture is full with this truth); if they were not as dangerous then as they are now then something must have caused them to be this dangerous today. And if you say they were as natural and harmless as when Adam named them and so wouldn’t have needed any taming when they walked with Noah into the Ark, then what happened between Noah and the present day? What happened to lion? What happened to viper, dear, tiger and all ‘terrorists’ in the animal kingdom? Food for ought!
It appears the more men sin the more Satan and his hosts are unrestrained to turn nature against men, a thing nature may be most uncomfortable with but helpless about. But it groans! “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”! The rapture is the first sign of answer to their groaning.
Does Creation Communicate with God!
If you think nature or the rest of creation does not express itself to God in one form or the other think again. If you think they do not communicate to God because they do not have our senses think again. If you think they do not relate with God and indeed cannot relate with Him you better think again. The general thing you must know is that God is Omniscient and, again, with Him nothing is impossible. The next thing you should know is that if men by faith can speak to anything, even the mountain, and they obey (implies hearing) how much more of God? But more specifically the Scripture is replete with evidences such as God being able to make the stones praise Him; God communicating with an ass; the sea or waves clapping their hands for Him etc.
In Isaiah 55:8-13 we read: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
We want to draw attention to few things here. Firstly, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither His ways our ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. An omniscient God does not only create but also must have a way of communicating with His creation. As men, all that is beyond us. But they are in contact! That’s for sure. And in the matter of the rapture and the manifestation of the sons of God as it affects the ‘creature’, it is said that it groans.
Secondly, see this again: “the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree”. That’s figurative you may say. Let me agree with you in part. But this may interest you: We can interpret the fruitfulness of the mountains and hills and of the trees as their way of breaking forth into singing and of clapping its hands respectively. Their fruit-bearing is the praise and worship they give God. It is a language well understood by God and nature. And all good students of the Bible know too that our fruits are also praises to God. But of nature we here speak. So, nature as a matter of fact can sing and it can clap its hands. But certainly not the way we do it. The more fruitful nature becomes the more of the fullness of joy that belongs to it and the more gratitude it expresses to God. Even though mortals may not know or recognize this, God who understands the language of His creation certainly does. Nature wants increased and indeed fullest yields, because it is natural for this to be so. But, alas, the curse! And hence the pain and the strong desire for freedom. And nature, therefore, is earnestly looking forward for the first sign of its freedom, which is the manifestation of the sons of God.
Nature exists to maximize its yields. This is why nature exists and as long as it fails to realize this potential it groans in pains, and it has been groaning unimaginably since Adam, when the sins of man and its attendant curses inhibits nature from giving out its best. If you take that Isaiah 55 from verse six you will see that forsaking evil results in good yields, increased yields. And very soon; after the rapture, it will be not just increased yields but full maximization of nature’s potential. In the millennium the mountains, hills trees and all shall know full yields, nay; they shall know ‘overwhelming and consuming singing and clapping of hands’. When the purpose of its being is realized such shall be the result. Nature waits for this with all its ‘senses’, and groans.
When in the coming one thousand years reign of Christ here earth, when Satan and sin would have been removed for that one thousand years and the knowledge of God covers the earth as water covers the sea, nature would have returned to its natural state; even then “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” – Isaiah 11: 6-9.
Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) in his hymn: ALL CREATURES OF OUR GOD AND KING seems to agree that creation communicates with its Creator.
1. All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing Alleluia! Alleluia! Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
2. Thou rushing wind that art so strong, Ye clouds that sail in heaven along, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice, Ye lights of evening, find a voice! O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
3. Thou flowing water, pure and clear, Make music for thy Lord to hear, Alleluia! Alleluia! Thou fire so masterful and bright, Thou givest man both warmth and light! O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
4. And thou, most kind and gentle death, Waiting to hush our latest breath, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou leadest home the child of God, And Christ our Lord the way hath trod. O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
5. Let all things their Creator bless, And worship Him in humbleness, O praise Him! Alleluia! Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
“All creatures of our God and King lift up your voice and with us sing: Sun, moon, wind, cloud, lights, water, fire and even death – all things! He that created all things has a purpose for all of them. One of such purposes is to praise Him but in a language or way strange to man. But I must draw attention to stanza four of this hymn by Francis of Assisi, an apparently heaven-bound saint:
And thou, most kind and gentle death, Waiting to hush our latest breath, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou leadest home the child of God, And Christ our Lord the way hath trod. O praise Him, O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou most kind and gentle death! Sure you heard that correctly! That is a man of like passion. He lived here. Do you see how this man sees death?
This holy man knows the function of death, a godly function to those living right on this side of eternity: Thou leadest home the child of God! There is a path for the child of God that leads home to God. What is it? It is the way Christ Himself has trod: And Christ our Lord the way hath trod! That way that leads to God. Oh, no wonder God delights in the death of the righteous! So, rather than see death as something else, here is a human being taking death as a strong friend that would assist in making the saint achieve his eternal purpose and be in his eternal habitation with God. And so, Francis of Assisi invites death to fellowship and to come join praise the Lord with the saints! May God help us who are professing to be waiting for the coming of the Lord to earnestly wait!
The Crux of the Matter
And we must conclude: The ‘creature’ does not only communicate with God in praise but more than that. Indeed, it can only give best of praise to God after now; after the sons of God are manifested. And it is desirous to give its Creator the fullness of that. Like man, that is why it was made in the first place; that is for the pleasure of God, and it is the pleasure of God that nature gives its best to humanity. The fall of man at Eden altered all that; and it is cause of huge pain to creation. And the effect or curse that came with sin even further jeopardized it all. Nature or creation wants to go back to purpose of creation, and it yearns. And it groans too!
“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”! The creature yearns, is earnestly expectant and groans to see that day; and, again, the rapture or the manifestation of the sons of God signals that day. And shall we not yearn, be earnestly expectant and groan to see that day too!
And this is the crux of the matter. This is the bottom-line. So, Paul came to verse 23 of Romans Chapter eight: “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.”
O that we can say with Paul by the Spirit: “… even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” And this necessarily takes us to the next part of this series: ‘The Groaning of Saints and Pilgrims’. We must groan!