Mediation: God’s image: the firstfruits of the Spirit – Romans 8:18-30

Reading: Romans 8:18-30

Adam and Eve, created in God’s image, were called to rule over this creation. Ordained as king over this creation, man was called not only to rule over but also to protect this creation from harm, from attacking enemies. Filling the earth and subduing it. Developing it, all to God’s glory.

When the attack came, however, mankind did not stand on guard. Satan was allowed by mankind to use his lethal weapons on earth. The father of lies became a murderer by his lies. He tempted Adam and Eve, and because they listened to him, death came into this creation.

The sad thing is that corruption and death not only affected Adam and Eve, and with them the entire mankind, but the entire creation suffers under the sin of man. With Adam’s decision to listen to Satan, sin entered the world and death through sin (Romans 5:12). The result of this is that the entire creation suffers. It is not just mankind that will be confronted with the results of sin: sickness, pain, misery, hate, and death. But it is also the animals, the plants, the trees, everything. ‘For the creation was subjected to futility’(Romans 8:20) and ‘the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.’(verse 22).

Lions, tigers, and bears devour other animals. Sharks attack, snakes kill with their poison, and many more animals have become fearsome predators. Other animals are prey and live in fear, constantly on the lookout for predators. Animals suffer from famine, sicknesses, and also from human mismanagement of the environment. And this all because of the sin of man.

Animals even stand up against mankind, rebel, and kill human beings. In Genesis 9 God told mankind that they should not tolerate this rebellion and every beast that killed a human being should be killed. Even the plants and the soil of the earth rebel against man. The earth brings forth thorns and thistles. That is the curse, the result of sin.

However, this is not how it will remain. Jesus Christ came, in human nature, to take away the curse. He also was tempted but resisted the devil (Matthew 4). He suffered, under the results of sin. He died eternal death, but He defeated the power of death and He rose from the dead. That brought a turn in the history of the world. He is the first one to rise from the dead. The first one. Not the only one. By faith, we are united with Him and will be raised with Him to a new life (Romans 6:4,8).

Now that we live with Him, we have received the first fruits of the Spirit (Romasn 8:23). The new creation starts with mankind, as the ruler over this creation. Mankind was the one who brought sin in this world. In Christ, it is mankind again, where the new creation starts. We have received the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works faith. The Spirit works new life. Our new life starts here on this earth. The moment we have faith.

Now that God has begun the new creation, by giving us His Spirit and giving us new life, now the entire creation also longs for the complete renewal. ‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.’ (Romans 8:19, ESV). The creation wants to see its new ruler, the sons of God: mankind as it is saved by Jesus Christ: all those who believe. The entire creation looks to us. The entire creation above all looks at Jesus Christ, Who in His human nature came to fulfill the task of mankind. The task which we could not fulfill because of our sin.

The entire creation now recognises Jesus Christ as their new Ruler. ‘And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”‘ (Revelation 5:13). All creatures worship the Lamb.

In Revelation 13 we see that there Satan tries to imitate the Lamb. He creates two beasts. The dragon and the two beasts: three beasts, over against the Trinity. And then we read about the first beast: ‘All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ (Revelation 13:8). However, even though it may seem as if all mankind worships him, there are those who do not worship him, those who are written in the book of the Lamb. And even more: the creation does not worship him. In Revelation 5 the entire creation was mentioned as worshiping the Lamb. Here the creation is not mentioned. In Revelation 12, we are even told that the creation helped the woman(= the church), to protect her from the raging of Satan (verse 15).

Mankind, created in God’s image, fell in sin. Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, came to restore mankind in its position as the image of God. By faith, we are united with Jesus Christ. He is the express image of God (Hebrews 1:3). He in His human nature completely fulfilled the cultural mandate. By being united with Him in faith, we share in what He obtained for us: His complete righteousness. And now we reign with Him forever over all creatures.

Key Text: Romans 8:19 (ESV): ‘For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.’

Meditation: Being renewed as God’s image, we will take up our task again to rule over this creation. We give glory to God in the way we work in and with this creation, but we also reflect God towards this creation. We have to rule this creation with gentleness and love, with good care. Look at your own life and determine how you can improve in your tender care for this creation.