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 manifestation 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 intelligent beings like man (the physically dead and the physically living) and angelic beings (holy and faithful angels minus fallen angels). 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!
This is the idea of ‘earnest’ (apokaradokia) used in Romans 8: 19. So, in this verse it is not just outstretched neck but outstretched body of God’s creation expecting the manifestation of the sons of God; sons of God in all eternity. And it must be so because this is one of (three) greatest news the earth can ever know, and the crowning news of all three! And all creation wants to catch it, if you will, not as breaking news; but right on spot, as eyewitness that is, before it breaks out. Their whole body is involved. They stretched out themselves standing on their toe, like they want to fly. And, who are the ones doing this? The whole creation of God! Why? Again: This is one of the three most outstanding things (three things with one goal) that the earth can ever know.
The Challenge to Believers!
Before we lay out these three outstanding events in the world (one of which is already our present subject matter), may we challenge ourselves with a poser. We have just seen how the creation (let’s call them ‘the spectators’ or ‘crowd of witnesses’) see and take the rapture of the saints: even their disposition and complete arrest in this matter. Now, for us who are the called according to His foreknowledge; for us who the rapture is actually intended for; for us the creation (in the very special sense of the word: His spiritual body); and for us for whose sake the rest of creation are earnestly expecting and waiting to see the consummation of our high calling, can we dare to take things for granted and live it-doesn’t-matter life? I assume you know that those who will make the rapture shall go up suddenly in outstretched bodies?
And shall we not live outstretched lives for Him, a life light enough to be so raptured; a life fixedly looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; a way of life free from all the mundane things of this world that are blocking our view of the coming King, and obscuring our comprehension of true Christianity and the nature of Christ call? If observers, as it were, can be on the watch out for us, can we not ourselves watch? If secondary beneficiaries and indeed those deriving their benefits from our benefits could be all consciousness about the coming of the Lord, can primary beneficiaries dare to be less conscious and consummate with it? This angle will take a more elaborate attention after now. So, we must go presently to the three most outstanding events but same and one goal.
Three Most Outstanding Events
The first, not necessarily in order of importance but of occurrence, is creation itself; and we read: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” – Titus 1: 2. Eternal life was the goal of creation. It was promised before creation, and God cannot lie about it. Though Satan made man fell into sin, the promise of God is eternal. Eternal life underscores all the dealings of God with man.
The second is the Cross, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ where our sins were taken away, buried with Him, and resurrected with Him with eternal life guaranteed us (if indeed we have gone to His Cross to settle our account with Him in repentance and getting forgiveness and grace to live for Him). And we read: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” – 1 Peter 1: 3; “That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” –Titus 3: 7; “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” – Colossians 1: 27. This is the restoration to the original purpose of our creation, which is eternal life.
Though we now have it if we have faithfully gone to the Cross of Christ to ask for forgiveness of our sins and by faith receive His Blood of cleansing to get rid of sins from our souls and have His righteousness imputed unto us; and so are now perfect in the sight of Almighty God, this eternal life may well still be probationary as pilgrims in a dark world. There is a final salvation therefore, and they that endure to the end, those that keep their pure garments pure to the end or those that would always timely allow God to take away whatever stains on their garments before it is too late will eventually lay hold on eternal life: The second or final salvation. The rapture, those who finally achieve the purpose of the Cross and of creation, is the third (not in ranking but order of occurrence) of the most outstanding events in the world. This is the consummation of all that God intended for man. Eternal life, that is. Call it the last climax. All creation with earnest expectation and unyielding eagerness want to know these people. This eagerness: Nothing compares! But how eager are you and I?
The Creatures’ Earnestness: A take-home Lesson!
The creation want to see those who finally would achieve the purpose of the Cross and of creation; those whose priceless souls will avoid eternity with Satan in his horrible eternal abode; those who finally did not make shipwreck of their faith but cleaved to the Lord in the face of Satan’s devices and falsehood in many a pulpits; those who in their walk as pilgrims here on earth presented their bodies as living sacrifices; those few among the many that are called who truly have been walking the narrow path, and who therefore will be consequently chosen or better still so make themselves to be chosen; those who consummates the blessed assurance and hope; those who will be free, and free indeed: forever free! Shall we be among the few the Lord is coming for and that the ‘creature’ is earnestly expecting and waiting to be manifested as sons of God! Why not?
They are all with outstretched bodies wanting to see the final victors that will actually sound out the final conquerors’ unanswerable challenging query that ushers into eternity with God: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” – 1 Corinthians 15: 55. A poser that knows no reply, for all enemies have been subdued eternally! Shall we be among those final victors?
The creation want to see the Church that is without wrinkle and blemish; the wheat separated from the tares; those who really have been on the narrow way as opposed to the world’s Broadway passengers and the hypocritical multitude in the Broadway-church. It wants to know those (the ‘ye’ or ‘you’) who will be part of that most comforting and supernal welcome address: “But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the City of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” – Hebrews 12: 22. May we be in that assemblage! May we join other glorified saints who have already gone before us and who are among the creature earnestly expecting to see those to be manifest as sons of God with them, those to be added with them in that great God’s assembly.
Now, there is a blessed assurance; Jesus, indeed, belongs to all that are saved, He is ours; and O what a foretaste of glory divine this is! Now, we are heirs of salvation (of the final salvation that is, because now we are already saved) having been purchased of God, born of His Spirit and washed in His blood. But this is necessary: Perfect submission, with its attendant perfect delight and visions of rapture that burst on our sights, and with angels descending, bringing from above echoes of mercy and whispers of love that sustains us in His fold until: that eternal perfect submission where all is at rest; where we in our Savior are happy and blest; because we lived a life of watching and waiting, looking above just as we are filled with His goodness (and emitting same), and lost in His love (by which men know us as His Disciples). That is rephrasing Fanny Jane Crosby, a lady that was so full of Heaven, and today evidently resting in the Bosom of her Savior!
May we join the saints in glory; may we live a life that outstretches to Heaven, a life ready for the most glorious flight that the saints will soon partake in, and which Satan and all his hosts can do nothing against. There is a final salvation. And the earnest expectation of the creation is to see this ‘manifestation of the sons of God’: the eternal sons of God!
And brethren and all, as we walk on this side of eternity, how can we not share this inspiration that came to George Bennard (1873–1958) “one day in 1913”, in Albion, Michigan:
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
‘Til my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
Before the rapture, there is a way believers should live! Faith of our fathers is living still, no matter how men and ‘ministers’ wrest the scriptures. Jesus is coming very soon for His Church; a Church without blemish, and without wrinkle! And, remember: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God”.
Igho writes from Warri.