Bible study series: The Beginning and the End - Genesis and Revelation
Genesis Again (there is a new world coming)
by I Gordon
With all the doom and gloom around at the moment it is good to expand your view and look off into the distance to see what is coming. It is easy to become fearful if we just watch the network news right? As the old saying goes, 'if it bleeds, it leads' and they often do a good job in making things look bad and creating uncertainty. And yes, what is coming in the short term will be very difficult for life on this planet. But the problem with just listening to the news is that you don't hear or see what God would have you to focus on. So in this message I would like you to look off into the distance. Can you see it? Look past the current pandemic... look past the birth pains that the world is experiencing... what do you see? Can you see a glorious redeemed planet rejoicing with a glorious ruling King? Can you see it?
In this study I want to look at the redemption of creation itself for there is a new world coming. The plant and animal kingdom were also put into bondage scripture tells us by the fall of mankind. They too are longing for the day of redemption! So we'll look at this bondage that they have come into and what the Lord's plan is to bring His beautiful creation back into the glorious freedom that is was first designed to be. In short - Genesis Again.
Man gave name to all the animals, in the beginning... in the beginning.
Gen 2:8-10 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.
Gen 2:15-20 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it... Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
Right from the beginning we see that God Himself planted a garden in Eden. Think about that for a moment... Remember the amount of thought that went into your garden? Ok, maybe your garden isn't a good example! But you thought of what you would plant, where you would plant it... You were pretty pleased with what you came up with right? Well imagine the garden that God would have come up with! Imagine the colours, the variety, the beauty and the layout. It would have been amazing! And look also at the harmony that existed in that day. All of the animals came to Adam in his garden so that he could name them. All in perfect peace. Here come the giraffes... oh look, here are Mr and Mrs Hippo. Who are these ones covered in mud and dropping dirt in my garden? Oh it's the piglets. And who is this furry guy slowly making his way behind everyone else? I think I'll call him 'Sloth'.1
Humanity still loves the time that we have with the animal kingdom and in nature. I for one love getting out on my bike into the forest or swimming at the beach - it is amazing what God has made. Sure... I'm not a full tree hugger. Well, apart from that one time that I took the corner too wide while mountain biking. But I love what God has given us. I love creation and the animal kingdom. When I wasyoung I was the type of person that would rescue moths and spiders out of the toilet to try give them a chance to live!2 Most of us love nature and some spend big money to swim with the dolphins or go through a safari park with the lions, cheetahs, elephants and the like. We love it. And so we should. God placed them here for us.
And yet it is all in bondage. It is all dying and wearing out. As wonderful as it seems, after the fall much of the animal kingdom now exist on a kill or be killed basis. Everything is not at peace any more.3 Creation, as beautiful as it is, is groaning... and waiting (as we shall see).
Like that favorite old shirt of yours...
Psa 102:25-27 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
The Psalmist here tells us that though creation is the work of God's hands, it will perish. It will wear out. The analogy he uses is of an old garment. Think of that favourite shirt you bought. Wow - what a great top that was! And so you wore it, and wore it, and then wore it some more. And slowly, but surely, your wore it... out. It got a little stretched here. A few threads showing there. It's got that permanent stubborn stain that just won't come out. It just gets old. Well the Psalmist tells us that creation is like that. In Physics they would see this as the law of entropy - a consequence of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. That is that there is a loss of energy leading to breakdown over time. It happens to the bodies we live in and it happens to this celestial body we all live on. Creation is getting old and is currently groaning. Maybe you personally can relate to that with your own body! But note that there is a plan - the scripture above says that creation will, like a new shirt, be changed! Hold that thought for a moment. Let's look more at this 'groaning' and what (or rather who) creation itself is waiting for.
The personalization of creation - it's waiting!
Rom 8:18-23 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 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 glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Now I love this passage! I like how it personifies creation. It speaks of creation 'eagerly waiting'... longing to be liberated and brought into the glorious liberty when the sons of God are revealed. It says that it wasn't the choice of creation to be as it is. The earth didn't want to bring forth decease, death and weeds. The animal kingdom doesn't want to live constantly worried and fearful about who is going to attack them. It wasn't their choice to be like this. It was simply a consequence of man's decision to disobey God and go his own way. On that day, everything that was under his care (plant and animal life) all came under the curse.
So creation waits in eager expectation. Now when you were young (especially but maybe you haven't grown out of it!) you probably had times of waiting with eager expectation. I know I did. When my birthday was getting close. When the last day of school was coming and you were about to have your summer break. And yeah, Christmas wasn't bad either! Well the word used here for 'eagerly awaits' is the Greek word 'apekdechomai'. It is used seven times in the New Testament4 and each time it refers to believers waiting for the Lord's return. Except this passage where it speaks of creation itself eagerly awaiting... and it is waiting for someone else.
Who or what is it waiting for you ask? It is waiting for you and me. It is waiting for the Kingdom age when the sons of God, believers in Jesus Christ, are revealed in full glory. It then will be released into it's full glory and liberty once again. Awesome. J.B Philips translates this verse:
“The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.”
A vision of a redeemed creation
Many years ago my mum had an experience that relates to this. A little glimpse possibly of what is to come. It was back in the 1970's and it came at a time when she had incorrectly judged a friend and she felt incredibly remorseful for doing so. And so she was saying over and over to the Lord 'I am so wrong.. so wrong... forgive me.. I am so wrong...' As she did so suddenly God's presence was there. It was like He was right there in a unique way. And in that moment she looked across the road at a decrepit old tree and she said she could see it transformed and it just shone with the life of God. She said this old tree was just vibrant, pulsating the glory of God. This was not a normal scene. It wasn't that the light was just shining on the tree. She was taken aback and just said 'oh I know whose you are!' She wishes now that she had looked at other things... the flowers, the grass... the birds... but it was so overwhelming and beautiful that she went up the back yard and sat down under a tree. And as she did so ants started crawling all over her legs. She realised that they had no idea she was even there though they crawled all over her. And it is the same with God. Many miss God though His life and creation is all around us.
Now before I start sounding like some Star Wars 'God is in the rocks, in the trees' type of thing, let me clearly state that God is totally separate from His creation. Creation is not God! But there is a liberty, as the scripture above tells us, that creation itself will come into. And I believe that all of creation will display the glory and life of God and point back to this wonderful creator! It is why Jesus said, on that day when He entered Jerusalem as their King, that if the people remain silent even the rocks will cry out! (Luke 19:40) The Psalms also speak of everything in creation rejoicing on that day of His return:
Psa 98:4-9 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn-- shout for joy before the LORD, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
Other scripture speak of the trees of the field clapping their hands. Everything will be rejoicing it seems!
Revelation and the liberty of creation again
When we get the book of Revelation we see this harmony and liberty displayed. It speaks of a river flowing from the throne of God. It speaks of the tree of life available again. It speaks of the removal of the curse and all in peace again.
Rev 22:1-3 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
And what of the animal kingdom? The prophets spoke well about this and for all you animal-lovers out there, I'm sure you look forward to this day. How cool will it be to hug and wrestle a lion knowing that he's not looking at you with lunch on his mind? The worst you might experience is a raspy lick because he's pleased to be with you! Isaiah, in that famous passage about the coming kingdom age, saw this day:
Isa 11:6-9 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
It's hard to read that passage without that 'eager longing and expectation' rising up is it not? It is going to be amazing. 'They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain'. Will animals be able to talk in that day? Quite possibly. We know that the serpent spoke to Eve before the fall without there being any sense of shock or amazement on her part. It seemed normal from what we can gather. We know from Num 22:21-39 that God opened the mouth of Balaam's donkey and he spoke very clearly asking why Balaam was hitting him. 'What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times? Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?' Pretty clear reasoning! The donkey was making a lot more sense than Balaam did!5
There is one final passage that I have referenced before in another study but, to be honest, I had forgotten about it until recently looking at that study. It is a great passage which ties what is to come with what was in the beginning. Here it is:
Matthew 19:27-30 Then Peter said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?" And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones , judging the twelve tribes of Israel. "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. "But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.
In looking forward to the time when He returns to earth and puts all things
right, Jesus used a very interesting word. He said ‘In the regeneration...’
This English word means:
1. The act or process of regenerating or the state of being regenerated.
2. Spiritual or moral revival or rebirth.
3. Biology - Regrowth of lost or destroyed parts or organs.
This scripture is only used twice in the entire New Testament. Here, in Matt 19:28 and in Titus 3:5. Once it involves believers and once it involves creation.
When you look at the Greek word used it becomes very interesting! The Greek word used is
This is derived from two Greek words: Palin, meaning ‘once more or again’, and Genesis meaning 'the beginning'.
So how Jesus described the conditions that exist when He sets up His kingdom on this Earth is ‘Genesis Again’ or ‘Genesis Once More’. That is what it will be like during the Kingdom rule of Jesus Christ. No more curse. No more disharmony. No more killing amongst the animal kingdom. No more viruses! All of creation liberated from its current bondage into that which it was initially created to be like. That which has happened to believers (the regeneration mentioned in Titus 3:5), will happen to creation itself.
It is coming. He is coming. All of creation is waiting. It didn't ask to be put into this bondage and it can't wait to be released! What a day that will be. And like I said at the start, can you see it? Can you see what is coming? Can you look beyond the craziness of life on this planet at the moment? You need to. The planet, like a pregnant mother to be, is groaning with birth pains and they will increase in frequency and intensity. But there is a new day to be born. And a new King ruling over His planet. Can you see it? Fix your eyes and hope on it.
One of the first Christian albums I heard after becoming a believer was Bob Dylan's Slow train coming. Fantastic album. One song on that album is the playful 'Man gave name to all the animals'. I can never read this passage without thinking of that song! A couple of verses (sing along with me):
"Man gave names to all the animals, In the beginning, in the beginning. Man gave names to all the animals, In the beginning, long time ago.
He saw an animal that liked to growl, Big furry paws and he liked to howl, Great big furry back and furry hair. "Ah, think I'll call it a bear."...
He saw an animal up on a hill, Chewing up so much grass until she was filled. He saw milk comin' out but he didn't know how. "Ah, think I'll call it a cow." " ↩
Yeah I'd probably flush it now but you can see where I am going. Seeing I'm dredging material from the 'stupid little me files' I remember one time when I was really young and this fly was buzzing around me, fully annoying me. I hated killing things but this guy wouldn't leave me alone. So finally I got some fly spray and blasted him. He quickly didn't live up to his name and plummeted to the ground. Then I felt really guilty! So I quickly got a plastic bag, flicked him in, and rushed him outside so he could get some fresh air. Alas, it was too late and my fingers were a little pudgy to begin CPR without doing further damage! I'm afraid he didn't make it. Sorry to end the story on such a low note. ↩
As an example I sometimes look out my backyard and watch the birds. I've got a lot of fruit trees down the back so they love to gorge themselves on the apples, persimmons, strawberries, grapes, blueberries etc. And yet as they do so they can't really relax for one moment. They always have to stay alert. When is that cat going to come rushing out? When is the large monster (me) going to come down here again? The literally can to eat with eyes in the back of their head. Imagine living like that! Imagine if every time you went out you thought someone was going to rush out and kill you. You'd be a wreck! I'd be a wreck! My nervous system would have given in long ago. So the birds do better than I would in their situation... but much of the animal kingdom out int e wild is like this. If you are not top of the pecking order, look out! ↩
See Rom 8:19, Rom 8:23, Rom 8:25; 1Cor 1:7; Gal 5:5; Php 3:20; Heb 9:28. ↩
Interesting how one of the most asked questions about Heaven is 'will my animals be there'? Scripture doesn't say. In a sense it shows that we can still only think in terms of what we know and enjoy here, and struggle to grasp the wonder of all that God has for us. In another sense it shows how close God has made animals to be to humans, that they would become like one of our family. Would I like to see my old cat Tabitha again? Sure would. Would I love to see my brother's great little Staffy Bull-Terrier, Sasha, again? You bet. While I'm not sure if they will be there, if God wants to surprise us with past loved pets then great! : ) What I do know is that He will have amazing things in store that are far past are current comprehension and understanding and no one will be disappointed. ↩