An area known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” can be found about 1,000 miles north of Hawaii, reported The Week magazine. Filled with bits of plastic from bottles, bags, and other human garbage, this area stretches for hundreds of miles. What’s worse, “the amount of debris found within has increased 100-fold in the past 40 years.” Fish and other sea creatures often mistake these plastic bits for food.
Creation indeed groans (v. 22)! We’re not alone in our waiting for redemption. Sin and death affected the natural world just as it did human beings. The relationship was to be one of rulership or stewardship (Gen. 1:28–30)—“creation care” is a current popular phrase for this—but it was corrupted and disrupted and will remain imperfect until our salvation is fully realized.
On that day, there is a “glory that will be revealed in us” (v. 18)—the glory of God, as His work of redemption will be completed. The created world, including plants and animals, “waits in eager expectation” for this to happen (v. 19). Nature is not only a witness but a participant in God’s plan. It was dragged down when Adam and Eve fell, unable to fulfill its potential (v. 20).
This is part of God’s sovereign blueprint, which is why one day “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (v. 21). The waiting is painful for all of creation, but rather than being the pain of “decay” or aging, it is the pain of labor, giving birth to new life. One day there will be no more pain, no more aging, no more death. “Our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” will be complete (vv. 23–25; see 1 Cor. 15:42–44).
What might it look like when creation is liberated? Two Scripture passages for consideration are Isaiah 11:1–9 and 65:17–25. These are the original contexts for such well-known images as the lion lying down with the lamb, or the child playing near the cobra’s den. On that day “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord” (Isa. 11:9)!