404 Creation Is Groaning

Creation Is Groaning

Creation Is Groaning

Creation Is Groaning

If you were anywhere near a computer or television on Friday, you witnessed one of the most horrifying natural disasters in history. The 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami off the coast of Japan unleashed destruction of epic proportions. The dramatic reports continue to flood in as new pictures and video are posted. My heart breaks each time I hear about it. It makes me wonder what God is doing in all of these natural disasters.

I came across this site documenting the Top 5 Natural Disasters of the Decade. It’s a few years old so it didn’t even include the earthquake in Haiti. The activity on the planet is increasing and is getting worse. I remember watching the movie 2012 and thinking how ridiculously over the top it was. As I watched the video of the flood waters crashing into Japan, the movie came to my mind and suddenly didn’t seem so silly.

I was raised to believe that the ultimate goal for a Christian was to get to heaven. The most important thing you could do on earth was to get saved. Then you were responsible for telling others to get saved. All for the purpose of getting to heaven. The world was getting worse and worse, but it didn’t matter because we were getting out of Dodge soon.

In recent years, my focus has shifted from longing to go to heaven to longing to see heaven come to earth. I’m beginning to understand why Jesus told us to pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus told us to pray for heaven to come to earth, not for us to go to heaven.

We have an inherent longing in our hearts for heaven. We have a longing for His kingdom to come. However that desire is not only in us, it’s in all of creation. Paul says in Romans that “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22). We get this picture of the earth giving birth to a longing. These natural disasters can be related to the pains of childbirth. The earth is groaning, but for what?

“that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” Romans 8:21

Paul says that creation was subjected to futility (Rom 8:20). That word can also be translated: “what is devoid of truth and appropriateness,ย perverseness, depravity”. The earth is longing for truth. That truth will be fulfilled when the sons of God are revealed.

The reason I beat the drum of identity and sonship is bigger than just self-confidence. It’s bigger than just overcoming sin and living an exceptional life. Those things are great, but there is so much more purpose in God’s desire for us to become his sons and daughters.

All of creation is waiting for the sons and daughters to be revealed. We’re in the midst of watching the earth literally groan. Natural disasters are increasing. Depravity and perverseness are abounding in our societies. As all of this is happening, nature is eagerly longing for the glorious manifestation of the children of God because that’s when it will be freed from the bondage of corruption.

As sons and daughters, we have the ability mandate to bring heaven to earth. Our destiny isn’t to leave this earth to go sit on a cloud and play the harp. Heaven is going to be manifested right where we are. The prophet Isaiah prophesied this long ago:

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17

Revelation 21 talks about this new heaven and new earth as well. This is reality. If we are going to be part of this kingdom, we need to understand how to live as sons and daughters of the King. Creation is literally longing for this.

We are forerunners of the new heavens and new earth. We carry the kingdom inside of us. As we are in our schools, jobs and communities, we bring heaven to earth. People will begin to taste and see what heaven is like just by being around us. Jesus wouldn’t have told us to pray that if He didn’t know it was possible.

As the world witnesses the revealing of the children of God, its longing for truth will be fulfilled. Our response to these natural disasters is to bring heaven to earth. God wants us to carry His kingdom with us. The world will respond to the truth of those that live as sons and daughters of a greater kingdom. Even if they seem resistant, deep inside they long for it.

Realize that your relationship with Christ is so much more than just being happy or living a good life. It’s bigger than going to church every Sunday and paying your tithes. All of the earth is crying out for your true identity to be revealed. There is no denying what we see in the world today. Natural disasters and the decline of society are its groans of pain. We are the answer to this longing for truth. We can hole ourselves up in a church or we can say to the world “Here We Are!

Have you ever experienced a natural disaster?

Comments

  1. Wow Tony, this is awesome stuff! I DO need to learn how to be a daughter of the King, and to let my TRUE identity show. Thought provoking reading.

  2. Great post!!

    Revelation 21:3 says “…Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Where do people live? On earth… and in the first verse we see the Holy City descending out of heaven.

    God’s work began on earth when we were created in His image and likeness (Gn 1:26-29), so surely God’s work will be completed on earth…
    It can only be complete when everything is is created new, when the old order of things has passed away (Rv 21:5), and when his called chosen and faithful followers are with him (Rv 17:14) those who are born of God’s seed – his living and enduring word (1 Pt1:23), the word of truth (James 1:18). Only then can God say “It is done.” (Rv 21:6) – the work He started on earth 6000 years ago has been completed, His kingdom has come to earth, His will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to start preaching.. just agreeing with you, and got a little excited.
    Thanks for the post!

  3. I live in Los Angeles, so I’ve experienced some earthquakes, also some tornadoes in Kansas as a child. The earth is certainly groaning louder. Let’s work to bring many more people into a right relationship with God through Christ Jesus while there’s still time.

    • Now you just need to spend some time in Florida or the Caribbean to experience a hurricane! Just kidding, you don’t want to go through one of those! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. “my focus has shifted from longing to go to heaven to longing to see heaven come to earth” love this!

    I had a seminary prof say “Jesus Christ is in the business of redeeming ALL THAT IS” (which means the earth too)

  5. I experienced Wilma at home on my birthday in Palm Beach Gardens in 2005. I saw above you said your parents were in South Florida as well. Were they nearby?

    • My parents were in the Fort Lauderdale area so they got hit pretty hard. I came down to visit months after the hurricane and there was still tons of down signs and trees all over the place.

  6. Not really. My wife was a Disaster Relief volunteer for 2 10 day periods after the Katrina/Rita Hurricanes and the experience was really life-changing for her (and for me since I had to take care of all of our kids by myself).

  7. Beautiful post Tony! As followers, we tend to get in this mindset that all of this is just a foregone conclusion and we get in this ‘waiting for God to arrive’ mentality. There is so much work to be done! As Jesus said to his disciples:

    “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

  8. The only natural disaster I have ever experienced is the stupidity of The World. Aside from that, no.

    Tony, this blog post rocks, fer real! Sons. Yes. Ours is a generational faith. Always has been, and shall be until its completion.

    Brilliant stuff, Tony.

  9. While I get most of this post, I can’t seem to grasp the conclusion. Are you suggesting that We pray to stop these things happen? Pray so that suffering will cease? I just want to be clear. and Isaiah and Revelation that you quoted doesn’t apply to this present earth, so I’m a bit confused.

    • I didn’t comment about praying for it to cease. I do pray for those affected by these disasters, for sure. I believe the groaning of the earth will continue. We can pray for mercy but ultimately God is sovereign.

      My point is that Isaiah and Revelation point to a future state of this current planet. I think too many people are preoccupied with leaving earth and getting to heaven without a focus on the here and now. We carry the kingdom in our hearts. Jesus told us to pray that His kingdom would come to earth as it is in heaven. If we’re looking to tomorrow and only focused on our future hope, we end up ineffective on what he has for us today on this earth.

      I hope that helps!

  10. Last year I experienced my first earthquake. The epicenter was 300 miles away and it was quite tame as far as earthquakes go. But it was definitely an eye opener for me. As I sat at my desk and saw my monitor sway back and forth, felt my chair’s casters roll back and forth underneath me, I got a faint idea of the helplessness someone would feel in the middle of a serious quake. I can’t fathom what the people of Japan just experienced, and continue to experience in the aftermath.

  11. I guess the comment monster at mine earlier.

    The natural disaster I’ve been through was about 9 years ago. There was an ice storm and it knocked the power out for 2 weeks and as soon as it came back on, I got put in the hospital for kidney stones.
    April, on the other hand, has been chased by a tornado on the road. This was about 3 years ago. She called to tell me goodbye and that she loved me. Yep. It was rough.

  12. Overall, bro, you’ve got a good message here. I just need to fact-check you on a few things.

    Our pastor, John Forsythe of Calvary Chapel, Surfside, in Indian Harbor Beach, FL, has been teaching from Revelation, simply because that’s where he felt the Spirit leading him. (Calvary Chapels are famous/notorious for teaching through the Bible verse-by-verse.) Before the Japan disaster he had addressed the idea of an increasing number of earthquakes.

    As a former marine environmental engineer, he says it ain’t so, and the US Geological Survey site agrees with him. http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/news/story/25904/has-the-number-of-earthquakes.asp and http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/increase_in_earthquakes.php provide the details. Basically, between the increased number of seismic monitoring stations (from 350 before the 1970’s to around 8,000 now) and the increased sensitivity of the equipment, we can detect more quakes more accurately now than we could 20-40 years ago. The number of major earthquakes, according to the USGS site, has remained steady; another source indicates that quakes 6.5 and higher have decreased slightly during that time. Meanwhile, the real-time worldwide communications network we’re using right now โ€” the Internet โ€” along with personal video cameras at our hip allow us to experience life on the other side of the world as it happens.

    I’m not arguing against any of your message, Tony. You’re spot on, as always. Consider This, too: for thousands of people in Japan, Haiti, Chile, Egypt, and even in our own towns, the End has already come. Their “one more chance” is gone forever. No matter what one believes about the reality of Hell (another hot topic, especially with Rob Bell’s name invoked), the Bible says that we die once, and then the judgment. Any result other than Heaven should be unacceptable for those of us who are in Christ and have Christ in us.

    Oh, for the record, I’ve been through Hurricane Hazel in Maryland in the 60’s (though I was too young to remember much of it), Hurricane Erin in 1995 in Melbourne Village, FL (flooding that almost made it to the house, though it took out our drain field), the trio of East Coast hurricanes in 2004 (when we decided to move into a home built to post-Andrew code), and TS Fay in 2006 (18 inches of standing water in the middle of the road, though, again, it just barely touched the foundation of our house). I also saw a waterspout head across the Chesapeake Bay, hit land, and dissipate as it went right over our house, though by that time it was just a swirl in the clouds.

    • Revelation is a tough book to teach. I don’t think I would ever teach it from a “pulpit”, just because it’s hard to take a decisive position on the interpretations of the book. I’m sure it’s an interesting series though!

      I hear your points about history of natural disasters. However, I’m not sure that same argument holds up on the state of moral decline in society. That’s pretty clear. The world is groaning and hungry for truth.

      I saw a ton of water spouts in Tampa but none ever close to land. They are really cool looking. Especially when they are far away!

      • No disagreement on moral decline. That right there puts us in days like Noah.

        The one waterspout I saw was close enough, I could actually see the column swirling. At first I thought it was just a heavy downpour, but when I saw bits of cloud circling the column … well, let’s just say I don’t remember much after that.

  13. This is a really beautiful post, Tony. I love how you responded to the disaster in Japan, but didn’t take a knee jerk approach.

    For so long, I wondered why Heaven mattered or what was so great about it. God has been showing me new things about what Heaven will be like, dwelling in His eternal presence. It’s not just no sorrow and no paid-it’s knowing Him and being with Him.

    >>>The world will respond to the truth of those that live as sons and daughters of a greater kingdom.
    So true! And such good reasoning as to why and how we need to be in the world, not holed up in our little Christian subculture (preaching to myself here, fo realz).

    • Thanks Keri. Regardless of your views of the “end times”, I believe we should all be living fully today. Jesus didn’t die for us to abandon life today and only live for a future hope. I believe that He’s coming back, but He’s been coming back for a long time. Rather than sitting on my hands waiting, I want to be His hands in the earth.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Realize that your relationship with Christ is so much more than just being happy or living a good life.”

    Preach! This is so what I’m talking about, Tony! We are not called to live for the pleasures and comfort of this world.

    Have not experienced a natural disaster first hand, but I lived about 2 hours away from SF during the ’87 earthquake. I was in junior high at the time, and remember watching the chaos unfold on TV. It was surreal.

    • Earthquakes are probably one of the scariest disasters because there is little lead time on those bad boys. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see everything shaking like I see in these videos. It’s crazy.

  15. I was in Florida for Hurricane Charley. Without power for about a week. Nothing major though.

    A agree Tony. The body of Christ must step up!

  16. Amen! Thanks Tony. Keep up the drum-beating. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Anonymous says:

    I in Florida in 95/96 during Hurricane Allison, waited out Hurricane Rita in our church building (which was crazy!!) and waited out Ike in our home. Natural disasters are nothing to mess with and they are becoming more prevalent. This is a great post about getting out there and bringing heaven to earth because we are almost done here.

    • I was in Tampa for 12 years. We had some brushes with storms up there but Tampa hasn’t had a direct hit in over 100 years. It’s a pretty safe place to live if you like Florida but don’t like hurricanes!

      • Anonymous says:

        I love Florida. We used to live in Niceville for two years while my dad was in the military. We visit Destin almost every year. We didn’t get to go last year because of the tar incident, so we are going this year.

  18. Love it, T.

    I am always transfixed by the media coverage of disasters. This time around, so I’m not getting the 24/7 coverage. Maybe that’s a good thing…maybe it gives me more time to pray, and less time to rubber-neck!

    My post for All The Church Ladies tomorrow will touch on a slightly different aspect of all this.

    Good job, buddy.

    • All the media coverage can be overwhelming. It’s definitely like rubber-necking an accident. I don’t watch TV at all but I can’t help but see it everywhere on the web.

      I’m looking forward to reading your take tomorrow.

      • My comment was supposed to say that I don’t have cable anymore, which is the only reason I haven’t been glued to the TV. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Anonymous says:

    Great post Tony! Following Christ is definitely more than just getting to Heaven. In fact, as you read through scripture, He’s not trying to get us up there somewhere over the rainbow, He’s trying to come here, to dwell with us.

    If we truly lived this, we would greatly impact this world, and not just have some nice services on Sunday morning.

  20. I have experienced an earthquake and though it wasn’t very powerful, it was scary!

    You brought up a very important point Tony. We should give people a glimpse of heaven while still here. We all want to get to heaven (heck, I’m ready right now – oh wait, let me get some chips) and live pain free, suffering free, etc. But how are we living today? That’s what matters right now, not only to us, but to those around us.

    • Supposedly I went through 2 earthquakes while I was in Japan but I was pretty little and I don’t remember them. I’ve never experienced a tornado but I’ve seen a couple of water spouts. Those were pretty cool looking.

  21. Awefullymade says:

    Enjoyed this post. I do believe that God is using these events for his glory, and to bring about a shift in the way the world works. Creation is groaning, and it wants the Kingdom to Come.

  22. I lived in Houston during Tropical Storm Allison – which, as far as force, wasn’t all that bad. The floods WERE that bad. Terrible, in fact. The freeways were rivers. Water, water, everywhere.

    I used to be a huge prophecy buff. I’m not. The reason is, I think too great a focus on prophecy – and I’m not saying don’t look for Jesus or pray for him to return, but too great a focus leads us to forget what’s going on here and now. And it is going on here and now, that longing, that groaning, that expectation.

    I don’t know why bad things happen, but I know what our response should be after they happen – love and charity and peace and justice and prayer.

    • I went through a season where I was hardcore into end times. To this day, I am not dogmatic about my position. However, I do believe that your view of the future determines how you live today. For too long I think I just looked forward to heaven without giving much thought to things that happen today. I had a “well it’s all going to burn one day anyway” mentality.

      If you only live for tomorrow, you’re likely to waste today.

  23. Over my 20 years in radio, I spent a lot of time in area of natural disaster…mostly floods and tornadoes. The first time you see houses flattened by a twister it changes you. You never question the power of God to do anything again.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never experienced a natural disaster (Praise God!). I was in DC the night of the earth quake; which was pretty crazy to experience even though it didn’t last long at all.

    It’s heart-wrenching to watch the news coverage and see the videos and photographs of the devastation. This is a hard reminder that we are not guaranteed another second or another day on this Earth. All of the “stuff” we think is so important can be washed away, burned up, or crushed in a second.

  25. I remember the Northridge quake in ’94 when we lived in California. It was like 4 o’clock in the morning and remember my bed shaking for what seemed like 10 minutes. It was scary and fascinating at the same time. Its hard to watch some of those videos and not stop and pray for Japan right on the spot.

    • I know. I just watched one of the craziest videos from there this morning. I’m definitely praying.

      I experienced 2 “typhoons” (which are just like hurricanes) when I lived in Japan.

  26. Worst thing “natural disaster-ish” for me was being caught in a blizzard…nothing compared to what Japan is going through right now. My prayers go out for that nation and it’s people. Your post has much wisdom bro’…we can not just pine away for heaven…we must live it here and now.

    • I lived in Japan for 3 years so that country has a special place in my heart. My heart breaks for them. I pray that God will reveal His love and glory in the midst of all of this.

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