The Healing of Creation
or The Healing of the Wounds of War in Creation
Based on the 5th of 5 Messages on The War of Ages by Rev. Chris Coleborn at the 7th PCC Annual Conference, 6-10 Jun 2006
As a result of any war – but especially ‘The War’ - there are graphic and obvious wounds to the land and landscape. The trees, the hills and plains, the rivers, lakes and wetlands, the beasts and birds both wild and domestic – the whole of the created world around us suffers in war. Homes too, our towns, cities and other buildings are destroyed and ruined. The treasures of man are hurt, destroyed and lost.
As a result of this cosmic war of all ages, more than planet earth is affected. The whole universe has received dreadful wounds.
So, in more ways than one the world around us is a casualty in this war. The wounds to the created world are described in some ways in Genesis 3:16-19 where we read in part,
"Unto the woman (the Lord said), … in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children … Unto the (man) he said, … cursed is the ground (the world around us) …in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee… in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
Let us now consider more fully then, the healing of the wounds of war in creation under the following two points:
1. The Healing of the Creation;
2. Something of What This Healing of Man & Creation Will Mean.
1. The Healing of Creation
To understand the healing of the physical creation we need to understand something of the place it has in relation to spiritual things and spiritual creatures such as man.
We need to remember that man, though created a spiritual creature in God’s image, was created with a very close connection to the physical creation. Part of our being is physical and was made from the substance of the creation. We are reminded of this in Genesis 2:7, where we read:
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Mankind was not made by God to live in a purely spiritual world. We were made to live in a physical home and environment, such as the Garden of Eden – or Paradise. Thus by our very creation we are not only spiritual beings, and capable of, in Christ Jesus, entry into the most heavenly and spiritual of places, the throne room of God,—but also physical beings, who are not complete without our bodies and our created world as part of our perfect existence.
That this is true is brought out in Scripture. For example, listen to the language and teaching of Scripture.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we read,
"What know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit … and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s."
Clearly, the Lord as our mighty Redeemer, died to save not only our spirit but our body. Both belong to Him and He cares equally for them.
True, places such as 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of having at the end a ‘spiritual body’ but this is not a contrast between having a physical body and not having a physical body. The contrast is between a body in which the war wounds and scars still exist – an earthly body - and a glorified body. Cf. Philippians 3:21, where the contrast is between ‘this vile body’ and a body like Christ’s ‘glorious body’. Now we know, don’t we, that Christ’s body after the resurrection was a real, actual physical body, that could be touched and which ate and drank to show it was not a ‘spirit’ but a body of ‘flesh and bones’ – cf. Luke 24:36-43.
There is to be an actual physical resurrection. The self same bodies in which we live in this world will be the same bodies, yes glorified, but the same that shall be wonderfully and fully restored and healed in the world to come.
We need our body to be complete, or else we are ‘unclothed’ as I believe the Lord by Paul is teaching us in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4.
Yes, Job’s hope is the certain hope of every believer. "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God …" he says (Job 19:25-27).
This also is important to note: the Lord cares for and is glorified in creation too. See for example Psalm 104:1-24 etc.
All this means that when war was declared, the creation – all the universe – felt the full effects of the war. Deep and dreadful wounds have come upon God’s creation and part of our eternal home. In Genesis 3:17-18 we are told how the earth suffers now as well as man. "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth". The fullest description of the universe – God’s creation – suffering war wounds is described in Romans 8:22 where we read:
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain …"
We can see how the created world around us has dreadful wounds and scars too! It also hurts and, as it were, is in pain. Drought and flood, fire and disease, pollution and abuse of the creation are all too evident of the earth. In the far reaches of the universe too, we see destruction of planets and suns exploding. Yes, there is a deep sorrow, including death, in the created world too. I think of the documentary on Namibia desert which I watched some time ago. The scene was desert. Then the rain came and a shallow lake formed. Thousands of Pelicans arrived to breed. For a time there was much fish and food. But soon the water started to dry up even before the little Pelicans could fly. The desperate attempt by the parents to feed them through hours of return flight to the sea was heart-wrenching to behold. Sadly, it eventually became clear that the parents could no more save their young ones. In a final valedictory flight, the parents circled the young ones, and then flew away, never to return. What a sad scene of resignation and abandonment. Sadder still was the sight of the little birds in their pathetic and futile attempt to follow their parents to the sea. Yes, the wounds of war are clearly seen in the creation around us.
But the good and wonderful news is that there is to be, not only a healing and restoration of people’s minds and bodies, but of the creation too. It too shall share in the wonderful redemption won by the Lord Jesus when He won the deciding battle. Thus we read also in Romans 8:19-23,
"For the earnest expectation of the (creation) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly… (But) the (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. … And not only (the creation), but our selves also … even we ourselves groan within our selves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
Jesus died not only for the souls of His children, but for their bodies too, and not only for their bodies and souls but also for their total environment. His death was to rescue the cosmos and an elect people in it.
Thus it is that the Scriptures alludes to when it speaks of the "new heavens and earth" in various places. For example, Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13. The language of Scripture is also that of Eden or Paradise restored, as we can see from a comparison of Genesis 2 with Revelation 22.
When Scripture speaks of a "new heaven" it does not mean the heaven which is the dwelling place of the Triune God. As the context to the expressions show. The existing perfection of heaven means that it need not be made new. The term must, rather, be referring to the stars, moons and suns of the galaxy. There is an emphasis in Scripture on God creating a new glorified physical world.
When Scripture says "new" we should understand it as renewed not created ex nihilo. The exposition of the new heaven and earth given in Romans 8 will be as the ‘new’ bodies of believers. We have the same bodily substance renewed in the resurrection, not a completely new substance. The universe will be gloriously renovated as man in his body and soul.
So, it will be a real earth and a real universe – Paradise restored as a comparison of the language of Genesis 2 and Revelation 22 shows to us.
Wonderfully, the poor abused earth around us, the creation and its wounds, the plants, animals rivers and land will all know, at the day when Jesus comes to finally put all wrongs right, to lift up that which was fallen and to restore that which was broken – all will know healing and full restoration.
2. Something of What This Healing Will Mean
What will it be like for this earth and the universe – the heavens – to have all the cruel and sad marks and scars of the war or all ages removed?
Jesus, in John 14:2 tells us "In my Father’s house there are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you." What is this place like that the Lord Jesus is even now, and has been since the beginning of time, preparing for us?
Remember how we read in 1 Corinthians 2:9,
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
The glory of what we shall be, and the glory of the country and world of the Lord Jesus, is way above all that we could even remotely comprehend, even though we begin to glimpse it in this life.
The healing of the wounds caused by war will not only be that of the spirits and bodies of mankind. It will be that of the created universe too. So, what can we expect in the creation?
We need to remember, this earth upon which we now live, is part of our eternal home. It will go with us into glory and eternity too, being made glorious and perfect. Our eternal life in what is part of our eternal home has already begun. We are already living in one realm of what is our eternal, and to be glorified, home.
Imagine this world, with all its incredible number of species, colours, and variations of plants, beasts wild and tame, birds and fish without the curse. Nothing to hurt or destroy. No death or suffering. All now in a right balance and order. You and I able to wander among and, as it were, ‘talk to the animals’. This picture is certainly taught in Scripture. In Isaiah 11:6-9, describing the world that the Seed of the Woman, the Messiah shall usher in says,
"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 … the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 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."
In Isaiah 65:17-25 we also read of the new world, the Paradise of God, the mansions that Jesus is even now preparing. It describes it in the following language:
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create …I create her people a joy … the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying… They shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat … Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the (blessed) seed of the Lord and their offspring with them.… The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock… They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD."
I believe that passages such as this, while having some symbolic elements [which are descriptive of the Gospel Age – ed.], yet point to something of what our life will be like in glory after Jesus comes and recreates the heavens and earth – resurrects them, as with our bodies.
For example, there will be the most satisfying and fulfilling work and activities. We will not be left only to stand and adore the Lord in the glory of His throne room. Imagine life without the curse upon our work! Imagine the most enjoyable things you have ever done and accomplished in this life. Now, imagine each day, engaging in activity that will bring those satisfactions. That is what it will be like in glory.
And because different laws of physics and time and space seem to operate in the way a glorified body functions (for example Jesus passing through walls and moving immediately from one place to another, cf John 20:19), we too, it seems to me, will have the capacity to move from one place on earth to another with just the act of our conscious will. We shall be able to move from one place on earth into the throne room of heaven where the immediate dwelling place and glory of God is to be found and seen, and where all believers await now until the new heavens and earth also become their eternal home.
But more, it seems to me that seeing the whole universe is now ours in Christ Jesus, we will be able to ‘space travel’ within the blink of an eye to the furthest planet or galaxy. We will be able to plummet to the deepest depth and go to the furthest star to behold the wondrous works that God has made, and have all eternity to do so. There never will be a time that an end to discovering the greatness and beauty and wonder of God and His works will be reached.
Something of this notion is conveyed in C.S. Lewis’ "Last Battle" in the Chronicles of Narnia series where he describes the hilltop with the walled garden in Narnia. Enter into the garden and there within is a new Narnia with another hill with a walled garden. And so up and in ad infinitum.
What is something of what it will be like? It is beyond our greatest expectations, the wonder and the glory of what it will be like to be a citizen of Jesus Christ, the Seed of the Woman, in His land of fullness of life and glory. Heaven and the newly renovated universe!
Remember then, this healing is not only for us, but also for the whole creation. The Lord Jesus redeemed the creation and has given us, not only a life worth living now, but a life of unimaginable glory and wonder in a perfectly restored and healed world to come.
All athletes and soldiers too, need to have a prize set before their minds and in their hearts to keep encouraging and renewing them on in their efforts. They need heart. The Lord in His Word and sure Promises sets before us the greatest incentives to be true and faithful all our days to Him. In these truths He gives us heart.
In this world and society where there is much to discourage and weaken us in our resolve, we need to set before us the ‘crown laid up’ (cf 2 Timothy 4:8) and the ‘prize for the high calling in Christ Jesus’ (cf 1 Corinthians 9:24 & Philippians 3:14).
We need to encourage, support, aid and help one another on in this good fight of faith, and to keep alive and flourishing among us, the good hope of glory with its perfect healing in Christ Jesus in every possible way.
The Captain of our salvation, and the One who stands at the head of the Lord’s host, is the One whom we should have as our Captain. It is in His army that we should be enrolled. It is under His banner that we should stand. To do so, while it means we have to truly fight the good fight of faith, is to have in the end the greatest victory and to personally know full health and healing and to inhabit the land of fullness of life and glory.
To be apart from Him and opposed to Him is in the end to lose all things.
"And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God ... And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the dearth do bring their glory and honour into it. … And He shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it: and his servants shall serve Him: and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. And He said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true …" (Revelation 19:11-16). Amen.