Because we’re humans and hurt ourselves and others, because we long for peace rather than war, for comfort rather than severe affliction, for life rather than death and love rather than hate—because all this is true, in a hard and harsh world, a world we have helped to create, maintain and in which we suffer and make others suffer, a place where, precisely because we love deeply we suffer deeply when our beloved ones suffer—because all this is true we want someone to fix everything and fix it now with or without explanation.
Whatever His reasons God has called us to trust Him and the “call” is grounded in the incarnation of God in the human we have come to know as Jesus of Nazareth. That is how God goes about reconciling the world to Himself. He shows Himself and draws us to Himself by revealing Himself. He uses no other means but Himself! This is the God who makes Himself known to us and this is the incarnational way He has done it and these are the stories that tell us of the deeds and the words of the righteous God who looks for friendship.
But as He seeks us to return to Him in friendship He is dealing with a human family that engages in hatred of one another and cruelty against one another.
The means of dealing with the evil of our sinful state has two faces that are inseparable though distinguishable from one another.
In fathering us by creating us as He willed to do God determined that life, fullness of life could only be experienced and enjoyed in fellowship with Him and in His image.
To sever ourselves from Him and to reject Him as the source of the only kind of life that He purposed to bring us to (“eschatological life”) meant that rejecting Him is to reject “eschatological” life, that is, post-resurrection life which is immortal, a life free of creaturely limits.
Since He purposed immortality and glory and would not renege on His purpose His aim in coming in Jesus Christ was to bring that to consummation. In order for God to accomplish that purpose humanity had to return to God, the source of that blessed state.
Righteousness is relational fidelity; it is being true to the commitment to the relationship or relationships into which we have entered. Sin is relational infidelity. God is righteous because He keeps His word, His commitment to bless the human family with life eternal.
Forgiveness and sanctification are both part of a salvation purpose that requires these but they are not the consummation of God’s loving purpose which is Life, Everlasting life, Immortal life experienced by glorified humans who are in the renewed image of God which He always purposed in Jesus of Nazareth, the now glorified Lord of All (Colossians 1:16-17; 1 Timothy 3:16-17).
But as God works in faithfulness to consummate His loving purpose He deals with a humanity that chose to reject Him and so not only dishonored Him but by their choices have become obstacles to God’s purpose.
The vertical aspect is humans against God and its horizontal aspect is humans against humans. Cruelty in all its forms spread like wildfire and the powerful class created an oppressed class; it created the vulnerable and voiceless and impoverished and the arrogance grew with its power. Suffering and resentment triggers retaliation and so here we are as we are today. The works of the “flesh” include hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, envy and heresies (Galatians :5:20-21). These are all divisive and retaliatory.
God’s unending hatred of Sin that made its home in humans (Romans 8:3) is seen in His willingness to allow us humans to choose self-destructive ways even though that meant the innocent and righteous (babies & His trusting followers) suffered (not punished)along with the guilty. This permitted chaos and cruelty exposed Sin and satanic behavior for what it was, is and always would be—the way only to Death & Destruction. Sin plunged humans to their lunatic depths when they hung God on a tree (John 12:31; Acts 5:30). Blinded by Sin (and blinded to this day by it) humans saw goodness, genuineness, truthfulness, helpfulness, justice and compassion embodied in Jesus of Nazareth who offered “credentials” by means of miracles and glorious teaching (John 15:22-24) and they hurried Him to a gallows. They meant the cross for evil and God meant it for good (see Genesis 39:21; 50:17-20; Galatians 1:3-5). And we continue to do it as we corrupt innocence in children, rape and pillage the voiceless and vulnerable and wallow in greed for “more” while countless people have less than nothing.
Since it was humanity that brought Sin (in all its forms—Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22) into the human experience we’re not to suppose that God in some arbitrary and sovereign decision saw fit to hurt humankind. But He nevertheless allows humans to make evil choices and hurt one another (see Acts 14:15-16). The innocent and righteous were and are suffering at the hands of evil and God takes responsibility for allowing it but He has assured them by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31) that He will indeed right ALL the wrongs and for all those embraced in His redeeming work in Jesus Christ there will be glory, honor, immortality, all gathered up in what the Holy Scriptures call “eternal life”.
Paul took the view (Romans 8:18-22) that the non-human creation was “subjected to futility not of its own will.” Humanity to whom God gave dominion was faithless and the glory was missed but not forgotten by God. The Hebrew writer (2:5-9) concedes that Genesis 1& Psalm 8 had not yet been experienced but that seeing Jesus was the assurance of its coming fulfillment. But due to the will of Him who by choosing to permit humans their way God has subjected creation to the effects of the Fall.
The glorious purpose to glorify the creation wasn’t jettisoned but was it is to embraced in a future that accompanies the re-creation of the glorified human family (Romans 8:17-24, and 29). That makes the point that the human family would come through suffering to glory and so be conformed to the image of God’s Son (again, Romans 8:29) who shared with us the pain and loss that we suffered as a consequence of our forsaking God.
Since the re-creation of humans involves a rising beyond the mere physical (now by faith and in hope–Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:10-12; 3:1-4; Romans 5:1-4; 8:23-25) and creaturely weakness into a new and glorious mode of being as humans it should be no surprise that the non-human creation will also experience a re-creation as a new creation for newly created (resurrected) beings. The consistent and sustained message of the OT is that the material creation was suited to mortal humanity as it lived in that setting why would it be surprising that the re-creation of the Genesis 1 creation would be suited to the new state of humans in post-resurrection life? Humans still—but glorified humans!
1 Corinthians 15:42-49 has humans bearing the “soul” image of the first Adam who because he was of the earth “earthy” could not father humans fitted for a new mode of being called “heavenly”. The new mode of humans (spiritual or heavenly—phrases used to contrast fleshly and earthy) was made possible only by Jesus the last Adam, who has become “life-giving spirit” because He resurrected beyond the old creation, being a son of Adam (Luke 3 and subject to mortality) and so He is no longer “flesh and blood” (which can’t inherit the consummated expression of the kingdom of God which involves incorruptibility. The first Adam was a mortal being created in keeping with the home God created for a mortal being but of Jesus (the last Adam) we’re taught that He became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45-49; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 and see 2 Corinthians 13:4 which entails the power that glorified humans will experience).
That human, Jesus, now fully experiences a new mode of being and exists not in a spatial location somewhere in the sky but in a state that transcends mortal weakness and limitations in “heaven”, a new creation (all things reconciled that He created—Colossians 1:15, 19).
Jesus’ suffering and glorification is the concrete, historical witness that God had not jettisoned His eternal purpose or the promise He had made that embraced both the human and non-human creation (Romans (1:1; 4:13; Galatians 3:16-18; Hebrews 6:13-20). And in bringing His unchanging purpose to an unending climax and fulfillment He sent His Son to share our self-sustained hurt that culminates in death and by Him God tells us that despite our Sin He wants to bless us with glory & honor (see Hebrews 2:5-12). In this very move in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (the Incarnation, life, death and resurrection in glory) God renders an everlasting judgment on Sin and Death. But this judgment was/is the expression of a God who before He began the world loved the humanity He purposed to being into being, first as mortal and then as gloriously immortal. As far as God was concerned Sin would not have the last word. Before the arrival of Jesus He already sought renewed friendship with humanity and the incarnation, life, death and glorification in the resurrection is the witness to that.
If we had asked “What is God doing in Jesus?” the correct answer would be, “He is reconciling the world to Himself! He is telling the world that Sin has not and cannot put an end to His everlasting purpose to re-create and glorify in keeping with His character and to bless us with the only life that is possible if we are to have life with Him!”
GOD’S work of accomplishing all that—which was always more than forgiving us—will be unendingly completed when all those embraced in God’s righteous/faithful redeeming work will experience the glory now experienced by the Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:21) who is the author/pioneer (Hebrews 2:10; 6:20) and finisher/completer of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2). Human salvation has not yet been completed—by faith in Him we live and rejoice and hope even now in a world of tribulation (John 16:33) and we live in assured hope of the glory to come (Romans 5:2, 10; 8:24-25 and context from 8:17-39; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:3-6).
How then will the old creation be glorified if not by simple renewal to what it was in the beginning? I haven’t the foggiest! But that was the kind of question that Corinthians skeptics asked about the glorification of the human body. Paul responded by telling them to look around and to the sky. God is not short of ideas and He suits out reality in all kinds of ways, he said. No doubt He can do the same with non-human creation.
If God committed a crime it was in creating humans and allowing them to be humans. But in light of the truth that that indescribable glory and joy and adventure is where He is taking ALL who are embraced in His saving work in Jesus it was no “crime”. All the exultingly impenitent who plundered and raped the earth will what they worked for: PERMANENT DEATH and missing the glory that God offered. The ceaselessly plundered poor at Judgment will not be met by a TYRANT but a Father.
This we know: We may not know what is coming but we know Who is coming and He does everything well and according to His omnipotent love. THINK NOBLE THINGS OF GOD AND DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR DOING SO. HE WON’T embarrass YOU BY FAILING YOU.