Why Future Events?-Part 14
|By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©2000|
|Dr. Showers looks at what the Apostle Paul tells us about the return of Christ to earth in his second coming, when He establishes the theocratic kingdom.|
WHY FUTURE EVENTS? PART 14
The Apostle Paul’s Prophecy
In previous articles we have examined prophecies by Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:28) and the Apostle Peter (Acts 3:19-21) to the effect that, when Christ will return to the earth in His glorious Second Coming to establish God’s future theocratic kingdom, He will remove the curse of mankind’s sin off of nature and restore it to its original pre-fall condition. The Apostle Paul also gave a prophecy to that same effect.
Paul began his prophecy by asserting that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us” (v. 18). He revealed the cause of the sufferings of this present time. In the past the natural created realm in which mankind lives was subjected to a cursed existence characterized by “vanity” (v. 20). This happened to nature, not because of something it did. Instead, God subjected it to this cursed existence because of the fall of Adam, the human representative whom God had appointed to administer His rule over the earth (v. 20). Paul’s language implied that originally nature was not under this curse.
In this cursed existence nature is enslaved to “corruption” (v. 21). The word translated “corruption” means “decay”. Ever since it was subjected to the curse, nature has been locked into the process of decay, and all parts of it have continued to groan and suffer the agony of travail (literally, “birth pangs”) together (v. 22). Because a woman’s birth pangs do not last forever, the metaphor of birth pangs implies that eventually nature will be delivered from this curse.
Paul indicated that, when God subjected nature to this cursed existence, He did so in hope (v. 20). This hope is based on the fact that in the future nature itself will be set free from the curse with its slavery to decay (v. 21). Because of this factually based hope, nature eagerly waits (Arndt and Gingrich, Ibid., p. 82) with “earnest expectation” (v. 19). The word translated “earnest expectation” describes “a person leaning forward out of intense interest and desire”. It denotes “diversion from other things and concentration on a single object”.
The single object upon which nature focuses its attention is “the manifestation of the sons of God,” because it will be at the time of that manifestation that nature will be set free from its cursed existence (v. 19). Sanday and Headlam point out that the word translated “manifestation” is the same word that “is applied to the Second Coming of the Messiah and to that of the redeemed who accompany Him”. They also assert that the Messiah will deliver nature “from its ills” in conjunction with His Second Coming.ref>Ibid.</ref> Through the combination of these two items they indicate that both the manifestation of the sons of God and the deliverance of nature from its cursed existence will take place in conjunction with Christ’s Second Coming.
John Murray asserts that in his Romans 8 prophecy the Apostle Paul was referring to the same future transformation of nature as the “regeneration” in Jesus Christ’s Matthew 19:28 prophecy and the “restitution of all things” in the Apostle Peter’s Acts 3:21 prophecy..
The Reference To The Old Testament Prophets’ Prophecies
In the Apostle Peter’s Acts 3:19-21 prophecy, after he referred to “the times of restitution of all things,” he said, “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (v. 21). He thereby indicated that through the Old Testament prophets God gave revelation concerning the future Messianic Age restoration of nature to its original pre-fall condition when Christ will return from Heaven and establish God’s theocratic kingdom rule on this earth.
The Relationship Of Christ’s Miracles To The Old Testament Prophecies
The Old Testament prophets recorded many prophecies concerning the restoration of nature in the future. A comparison of those prophecies with the miracles that Jesus Christ performed in the past reveals something very significant. For each of those Old Testament prophecies Christ performed at least one, and sometimes more than one, corresponding miracle while on the earth in His First Coming. This correspondence indicates that there is a definite relationship of Christ’s miracles to those prophecies.
The writer of Hebrews recognized and referred to that relationship. He stated that Jews who were eyewitnesses of Christ’s miracles thereby “tasted . . . the powers of the world (literally “age”) to come” (Hebrews 6:5). Two things should be noted regarding this statement. First, the word translated “powers” in this statement was used by Christ in reference to His miracles (Matthew 11:20-23). Other people used the same word for His miracles (Matthew 13:54, 58; Luke 19:37; Acts 2:22). Some used it specifically for His miracles of healing illnesses (Mark 5:30; 6:5; Luke 5:17; 6:19) and casting out demons (Luke 4:36). Second, since the Book of Hebrews was written during this present Pre-Messianic Age, the writer’s expression “the age to come” refers to the future Messianic Age when the Messiah will establish and rule over the future theocratic kingdom.
The combination of these two things prompts three conclusions. First, the writer of Hebrews indicated that Christ’s miracles were a foretaste of the powers He will exercise when He transforms nature in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in conjunction with His establishment of the future theocratic kingdom. Second, those powers are to be associated uniquely with that future Messianic Age, not the present Pre-Messianic Age. The fact that nature has not yet experienced that transformation, but still labors under the curse that came upon it with mankind’s fall from God, substantiates this conclusion. Third, this foretaste of Christ’s powers in the past guarantees that the future theocratic kingdom with its transformation of nature will take place in conjunction with His Second Coming in the future.
The next article will present examples of the correspondence between the Old Testament prophecies and Christ’s miracles.
- William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 865.
- Everett F. Harrison, “Romans,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, p. 94.
- William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam, A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On The Epistle To The Romans, p. 206.
- Ibid., p. 207.
- The Epistle to the Romans, footnote 26, p. 302..