GOD, WORLDS & NEW CREATION
This piece is repetitive but I won't apologize for that. It might be more helpful this way.
We see a man leisurely passing by on a bicycle. What’s he doing? Well, obviously, he’s riding a bike. True, but that’s he doing? He’s going somewhere. True, but what’s he doing? He’s taking exercise. True, but what’s he doing? [He had cardiac bypass surgery 4 weeks earlier.] He’s following his doctor’s advice. True, but that’s he doing? [He has a wife and children who adore him and urge him to take gentle exercise.] He’s pleasing the family he loves and easing their concerns. These numerous related purposes are part of what he is physically doing.
By cycling he is carrying out a multi-faceted purpose and that purpose cannot be severed from his cycling.
As it’s laid out in the biblical witness the first thing we’ll think about is God as creator. Then we’ll think of him as redeemer (see Psalm 136 and Genesis 1 & 2 with 3:14-15 understood in light of Romans 16:20 and Revelation 12:1-5).
To allow us to reflect on it the notion of redemption must follow the notion of creation since without someone to redeem there can be no redemption.
Time-bound humans learn and know things in the process of time but God is beyond/outside of time and its limits. For him all things are “present”. Humans, of course, think of the past, present and future because that’s how they experience life; but God is already “in the future” [that is, our future].
All of this means what? It means God doesn’t “come to know” some things; he already knows all that is knowable and he knows it all at the same time. This in turn would have to mean that he knew when he created us that we would “fall” and that he would move to redeem us.
It’s the case that God is the Creator but unless the creation is understood on his terms and lived in within the parameters of his purpose, in a real sense it is no longer his “creation”.
We’re not to think that God created without knowing why he was creating. We can’t have God saying to himself, “I think I’ll make something!” and having created a universe then wondering why he did it. He created to display his glory, he created to share his joy-filled fellowship in the trinity, and so forth. What he made and why he made it are two aspects of one creative act of God.
His purpose in making is part of the making.
God had Israel build a temple and he purposed it to be a house of prayer and when Israel responded in faithfulness to God the temple was just that. But Israel turned the temple into a place where shameful things occurred and the OT prophets tell us that God left it for it was no longer a home to him. Jesus said they had turned it into a den of thieves.
Understand that the temple building was the same building that God built but now as a result of the corruption of the prophets, priests, kings and general public it was something else. It was a place where thieves and idolaters gathered. Because what he had created for a glorious and blessed purpose was now a center of evil and misrepresented Him, God brought judgment on it. [The same is true of the land of promise and was/is true of the entire planet.]
The creation was to be the theater of God’s glory but corrupted humans turned it into a theater of their shame and wickedness. It was now a “world” constructed by the sinful minds and plans of humans.
[See 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4 as illustrations of this use of “world”. From this point on when I mean the corrupt reality I’ll use “world” with inverted commas.]
Such a “world” is now God's world [creation] seen with different eyes and different hearts; it’s a corrupt and corrupting “world” that’s no longer sees God's world [creation] as God meant it to be seen—it’s now a different “world”.
But note: this "world" remains the world God created, with all its structures, authorities and forces and elements, including humans. We have corrupted ourselves and everything we come in contact with.
That different “world” is divided up into kingdoms and empires, some more powerful than others and some more oppressive than others. Wherever these kingdoms are located the people live under the dictation of the powerful. The general public live under the tyrants’ skies, drink from their water and are subject to their taxes, policies and such. Note how this is expressed in Daniel 2:37-38. These kingdoms are localized expressions of the one corrupt “world” with the satanic forces shaping them. They are corrupt “worlds” within the one corrupt and all-encompassing "world”.
In Moses' day and experience one of those localized “worlds” was shaped and governed by a corrupt and corrupting Egyptian faith and coercive power, it was a “world” where oppression of the aliens was thought to be the wise and right thing to do [Exodus 1:8-11]. Or it was a Babylonian or a Persian “world” or a Greek world or Roman “world”.
Let me say it again. All of these “worlds” are sinful restructurings of the world God created. When God created the world he made trees, rivers, land, seas, mountains, crops, sunshine, rain and such. He also made humans and social structures, authorities and the like and purposed them to function his way and for his overarching purpose. When we sinfully restructured the world God made, it became a different “world”. Nothing happened to the molecules of the planet or the things on it; nothing happened to the atoms of which space and everything else is made. But we corrupted and corrupting humans saw [and see] these created things as instruments of our sinfulness. We used them to oppress, blackmail, control and threaten the powerless and the voiceless, just as we do today.
To the degree that we the sinful human family are able, we have made the creation [ourselves included] a fellow servant with us of the world-spirit. It is that “world” that God is opposed to.
“We’re you angry with the trees, the rivers, the mountains, Lord?” Habakkuk 3:8-11 asks when the prophet speaks of God redemptive march through history as he ruined Egypt and Midian. No, in these judgments God is stamping his judgment on “the world” created [structured] by oppressive nations/governments. “This ‘world’ is not my world,” God says, as he sets his hand against it. See Numbers 33:4 and Exodus 12:12 and again below.
God’s judgment against Egypt certainly falls on all the Egyptian people and even those who disagree with government views and policies experience the pain and loss. But God’s judgment on Egypt was not simply against a specific individual [Pharaoh] or individuals [his immediate cronies in the palace and priesthood]—it’s against an entire “world order”. It's against an empire which embodies the anti-God, anti-holiness and anti-life satanic spirit, a "world" led by Pharaoh.
God doesn’t simply want that Pharaoh dead—he wants to pass sentence of an evil "world". That evil “world” is Pharaoh’s “world”—he is the controller and representative of it and people must live in it in the ways that he determines. [Do see the description of the authority God gave to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:37-38.] But this “world”, of which Pharaoh is the visible lord, is inspired by the demonic and satanic so that Pharaoh is the servant of the world-spirit. He is “a god” under the “god of this world” [compare John 12:31 and 2 Corinthians 4:4]. When God brings Pharaoh down his purpose is to bring down Pharaoh’s “world” and God shows this by “attacking” its heavens, sun, earth, river, cattle, governing bodies and their firstborn who would carry on that line.
This is a “world” shaped by gods created by humans who have rejected the one true God and live in opposition to God’s overarching purpose [see Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17-18]; it is the world that God has created but it is a world hijacked by the world-spirit. In this “world” multiple gods are believed to bring blessings and render judgment when they’re angry. These gods [the earth god, the sun god, the wilderness god, the moon god, the god of wisdom, the god of the river, the god of darkness, the god of calamity, the god that gave life and the god of crops and health and hope and so forth]—these gods were said to have created and to sustain the world. This is the “world” and the only “world” known by the Egyptians and Pharaoh and his palace supporters controlled it.
They don’t know the world as Yahweh’s world!
This is the “world” that God brought down! The judgment was no loveless act against Egypt though the Egyptians felt the pain. Fundamentally, it was God against the gods [Exodus 12:12; 15:11; 18:11; Numbers 33:4 and elsewhere]. He wasn’t angry with the cattle or the physical creation or the children of the Egyptians—he was against the “world” in which these people lived.
In these Exodus texts God teaches us the he will not live at peace with such "worlds"—he will make war against them and bring them down. The language of Genesis 1 & 2 is the language of creation and the language of judgment is presented in the form of “uncreation”. See this in passages like Isaiah 13 & 14 [against Babylon], Isaiah 34 [against Edom and other nations], Zephaniah 1, Jeremiah 4:3, 14: 22-26 [against Judah]. In the description of these judgments it is not the creation itself that is attacked—it is the "world" of the Babylonians or the Judeans or in Revelation 21 the "world" of the Romans.
God’s world is his creation viewed by his eyes and for his purposes. There is only one creation, don't you know, but how it is perceived gives it a different nature [note again the remarks above about the temple]. When the Lord Jesus returns, his already existing view of creation, which is the Holy One's view of it, will be visibly and publicly restored and the structures, the authorities and powers will all be dedicated to the service of the Lord God and the knowledge and glory of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
When Jesus, speaking of his “hour” of the crucifixion, speaks of the judgment of “the world” [John 12:31-32] it is that satanic view and use of God’s creation he has in mind. He isn't talking about the planet being judged!
When Paul says that Jesus in self-giving love, in accordance with the Father’s will, brought us forgiveness that he might deliver us “from this present evil world [aion, here the equivalent of kosmos]” he’s speaking of the demonic view, shape and use of God’s creation—Galatians 1:3-4, KJV.
When Paul speaks in Galatians 6:14 about “the world” being crucified by Jesus he is speaking of the satanic restructuring of God’s creation.
When Peter speaks of the dismantling of the world it is “the world” of the wicked he is speaking about [2 Peter 2:5; 3:6-12]. In crucifying the "world" Jesus is doing in a final and universal way what God had been doing in the judgments of former ages when he brought down individual "worlds".
Babylon, Persia and the rest were powers/authorities God raised up [see Daniel 7:2 where God works on the seas that stand for the clashing nations --and Isaiah 17:12-13]. They were given authority to serve God for the benefit of his creatures but they corrupted themselves and God brought them down. He ended their "worlds".
When such passages are followed by a new heaven and a new earth we’re not to think of a literal destruction of the planet followed by a literal new creation of a planet earth and a heaven. See Isaiah 65 & 66; 2 Peter 2 & 3 and Revelation 21-22 as illustrations of the point.
The new heaven and earth speech in scripture follows the speech of "uncreation," which is the speech used to describe the destruction of evil empires and powers. In "new creation" speech we hear of the restoration of the structures and elements that make this creation God’s world again under his righteous reign.
Every “world” that God dismantles throughout the ages is an assurance that no tyranny or oppression or lie lives forever. The judgment on that “world” is not just a judgment on a particular individual but on the “world” that that individual helps construct and rules over in the spirit of the satanic powers.
In Jesus Christ the satanic and demonic powers have been defeated, the planet/creation is now fully understood by one of us—a human, who is God being a human. Jesus sees creation as it should be seen, governs it how it should be governed [with the Holy Father's overarching purpose in mind] and is bringing it all to a glorious fulfillment in a coming day.
With Jesus a “new creation” has begun, the evil "world" has been crucified and all those who are in him are NOW a part of a new creation. That new creation that now exists by virtue of Jesus killing “the world” and becoming Lord of All will one day be seen and understood and lived in as the blessed, immortal Lord Jesus already sees, understands and reigns over it. We will share his reign with him if indeed we suffer with him [Romans 8:16-17 and what follows all the way to verse 31].
The glory of those who are his Body is to conform to his personal experience [Romans 8:29]—suffering and then glory follows!
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.