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Volume 17, Issue 2: Stauron

The Universe Undone

Gary Hagen

In Paul's letter to the Romans, he describes a cacophony of agony. We learn that the whole of creation howls under the bondage of sin. The cosmos cries out from its corruption. While the galaxies grieve and groan, the waters of earth's oceans roar. The skies above weep in their sorrow. The universe lies undone—sharing in God's curse on man's sin.

Adam had stretched out his hand to grasp the death-fruit from the forbidden tree in the center of the garden. Havva, his wife, gazed upon this fruit and ate deception. Because man had deigned to taste that which was forbidden by the Creator, Yhwh cried out His curse, damning the soil on man's account. No longer would fruitful fields yield their strength. Man himself would be changed. As Abraham would later confess, man's destiny became but earth and ashes (Gen. 18:27). Earth, rather than yielding its strength, would now yield thorns and nettles.
In the beginning, the Lord had charged man to multiply and fill the earth. Man did fill the earth—with wickedness (Gen. 6:5). In our English translations of the Bible, we often miss the poetic justice of Scripture's account. In Genesis 6:11-12 we are told about the ruinous effects and ubiquitous spread of man's sin. Three times in those two verses, the Hebrew word for ruin and spoiled is repeated. In the KJV it is given as corrupt, or corruption. This is fine. But when God declares His response to the bloodshed and corruption on earth by man's sin, He uses exactly the same word to describe His judgment in the following verse (v.13). What is translated in the KJV as destroy is the same Hebrew word for ruin. In effect, God is saying, "So you want to ruin the earth? Let me help! I'll show you some real ruin." The ensuing global flood, where only Noah and his family were preserved, is described in a way reminiscent of creation week. Just as waters had originally covered the earth, with void and emptiness prevailing, God declared that welter and waste should hold sway upon the face of the earth once again. In Genesis 1:2, the Hebrew is stated in rhyming words, tohu wa bohu, void and emptiness.
All this dreadful tale came about by the hand of one man (Rom. 5:12), as the result of his sin. Paul tells us that this causes all of creation to wail. Zephaniah 3 records that the Lord God rejoices over His people with singing. Is it too much to think that not only the creation, but also the Creator, wept over the ruination of the world? But what are we to think?
Scripture is also very clear on the point that before time began, before the foundations of the world, "before ancient light begat the sun, or granites shed the sea," God ordained from His deep counsels that He would speak His majesty upon the earth. His gracious mercy, wrath, and power would unfold on sails of time, displayed for all earth and heaven to see the glory of His Name.
Part of that unfolding of the story throughout history included another cataclysmic judgment at the tower of Babel scarcely a few hundred years after Noah's flood. The Most High came down to scatter sin and disperse mankind. At His word, the tongues of men multiplied. They had resisted the divine command to fill the earth. Man had built himself a monument of height. But the Lord used confusion of tongues to ensure they would divide earth's portion as He intended. Man, of one blood, as a result of many tongues would become countless tribes and many nations. These same divided tongues, tribes, and nations are now being gathered again.
In the divine plan of redemption, one man (Abraham), one son (Isaac), one tribe (Jacob/Israel) would be the bearers of the divine covenant of adoption. They would transmit the law of promise, God's righteousness and His Messiah. Through Him, all would pass from death to life, through faith.
The cosmos cries its corruption. It yearns for resurrection. But this redemption is beyond all natural reach. Man, creation, both powerless. Yet into this weakness, the Word came down. And by this mystery, salvation was preached.
The mystery is that the Possessor of the Universe would descend from endless days, to visit and walk among men and die at our hands, in order that we might receive mercy and even favor from His pierced hand. Jehovah-Jireh, the one who provided the lamb to Abraham on Mount Moriah, came and provided Himself as a sacrifice for sin. By His death we have peace with God, and by His life, we have salvation (Rom. 5:10). Death has lost its sting! Not only this, but all creation joins as beneficiaries in this glorious liberty from the corruption of sin, in redemption (Rom. 8:21). For this reason (Is. 44:23; 49:13), God commands all creation to rejoice—in the redemption of God's people. Salvation is not a "just Jesus and me" proposition. It is a global redemption. No, it is a pervasive redemption beyond that.
There are the beginnings of a new polyphony. The heavens sing, the mountains rejoice, and psalms rise from ocean waves. The trees of the cursed fields now laud heaven's King, earth's Redeemer. We are witnesses to a cosmic liturgy of praise. Men and angels are invited to see God's glory. He has declared (Rev. 21:5 cf. II Pet 3:13)—"The universe made new!"

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