THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” [Rom 8:19]
First, a word on ‘the manifestation of the sons of God’ – Believers are even now ‘The sons of God’, but the world knows them not, [1 John 3:1]. In THIS RESPECT they are not seen. Their bodies, as well as their spirits, have been purchased by Christ, and they are become His members. Their bodies have, however, no marks of this Divine relation, but, like those of other men, are subject to disease, death, and corruption. And although they have been regenerated by the Spirit of God, there is still a law in their members warring against the law of their mind.
But the period approaches when their souls shall be freed from every remainder of corruption, and their bodies shall be made like unto the glorious body of the Son of God. Then this corruptible shall put on in corruption, and then shall they shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. It is THEN that they shall be ‘MANIFESTED’ in their true character, illustrious as the sons of God, seated upon thrones, and conspicuous in robes of light and glory. THEN shall it be forever settled in our minds as to who is a sheep or goat respectively!
God wants to openly manifest who His children really are to all creation. And the Day is coming when the Lord Christ will openly proclaim in the sight of all creation – “Behold, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM THE LORD HATH GIVEN ME!” [Isaiah 8:18].
At the PRESENT TIME it is difficult to say who is truly a Christian and who is not. But on the Day of Resurrection, it will be CLEARLY SEEN who the children of God really are!
Now the apostle says that the ‘creature’ waiteth for this ‘manifestation’! WHO or WHAT is meant by the ‘creature’?
The word in the original, which is translated in the 19th, 20th, and 21st verses, creature, and in the 22nd, creation, can have no reference to the fallen angels, for they do not desire the manifestation of the children of God; this they dread, and, looking forward to it, actually tremble.
Neither can it refer to the elect angels, of whom it cannot be said that they shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, for to this they were never subjected. It does not apply to men, all of whom are either the children of God or of the wicked one. It cannot refer to the children of God, for they are here expressly distinguished from the creation of which the Apostle speaks; nor can it apply to wicked men, for they have no wish for the manifestation of the sons of God whom they hate, nor will they ever be delivered from the bondage of corruption, but cast into the lake of fire.
It remains, then, that the creatures destitute of intelligence, animate and inanimate, the heavens and the earth, the elements, the plants and animals, are here referred to. The Apostle means to say that the creation, which, on account of sin, has, by the sentence of God, been subjected to vanity, shall be rescued from the present degradation under which it groans, and that, according to the hope held out to it, is longing to participate with the sons of God in that freedom from vanity into which it shall at length be introduced, partaking with them in their future and glorious deliverance from all evil.
As men earnestly desire what is good, and, on the contrary, groan and sigh in their sufferings, the like emotions of joy and sorrow are here ascribed to the inanimate and unintelligent creation. In this way the prophets introduce the earth as groaning, and the animals as crying to God, in sympathy with the condition of man. ‘The land mourneth, for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up; the oil languisheth, because joy is withered away from the sons of men! How do the beasts groan! The beasts of the field cry also unto Thee!’ [Joel 1:10-20]. ‘How long shall the land mourn and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein?’ [Jeremiah 12:4].
Again – ‘The earth mourneth and fadeth away; the world languishes and fadeth away; the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled, under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth. The new wine mourneth; the wine languisheth!’ [Isaiah. 24:4-7].
Thus, in the language of Scripture, the sins of men cause the creation to MOURN; but the mercy of God, withdrawing His rebukes, causeth it to rejoice. VANITY. — What is called vanity in the 20th verse, is in the 21st denominated BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION. When the creation was brought into existence, God bestowed on it His blessing, and pronounced everything that He had made very good. Viewing that admirable palace which He had provided, He appointed man to reign in it, commanding all creation to be subject to him whom He had made in His own image. But when sin entered, then, in a certain sense, it may be said that all things had become evil, and were diverted from their proper end. The creatures by their nature were appointed for the service of the friends of their Creator; but since the entrance of sin they had become subservient to His enemies.
Instead of the sun and the heavens being honored to give light to those who obey God, and the earth to support the righteous, they now minister to rebels. The sun shines upon the wicked, the earth nourishes those who blaspheme their Maker; while its various productions, instead of being employed for the glory of God, are used as instruments of ambition, of avarice, of intemperance, of cruelty, of idolatry, and are often employed for the destruction of His children. All these are subjected to vanity when applied by men for vain purposes.
THIS shall come to an end at the ‘manifestation of the Sons of God!’ for from thenceforth shall the earth and all that is in it be never again used in any manner to aid sin or the workers of iniquity but shall be brought back to its original purpose which is to glorify the God who created it! Hallelujah!
And THAT is why the whole Creation waiteth for THIS manifestation. ‘Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God’. [Rom 8:21]
But not only the whole creation dearly beloved, but WE Christians also groan to be delivered from this sinful body. The Apostle Paul groaned, “O wretched man that I am! WHO shall deliver me from the body of this death”? And he answers his own question by saying, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin”. [Rom 7:25] Hallelujah!
[Gleaned and paraphrased from the writings of the late Robert Haldane]