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The Whole Creation Is On Its Tiptoes (Rom. 8:19)

Here is a snippet from my studies from this week so far:

  • ESV Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

The verse in question is Romans 8:19, and we have in view specifically the phrase ‘the creation waits with eager longing‘ or ‘earnest expectation.’

In George MacDonald’s book, The Hope of the Gospel (p. 218), he notes poet Henry Vaughan’s Latin rendition of Romans 8:19 can be translated, ‘For the things created, watching with head thrust out, await the revelation of the sons of God.’ In the poem that goes with this verse, Vaughan writes,

Sometimes I sit with Thee, and tarry
An hour or so, then vary.
Thy other creatures in this scene
Thee only aim, and mean ;
Some rise to seek Thee, and with heads
            Erect, peep from their beds ;
Others, whose birth is in the tomb,
And cannot quit the womb,
Sigh there, and groan for Thee,
Their liberty.

Friberg defines ἀποκαραδοκία, ‘watching with the head stretched forward alertly.’ Thayer defines it,’ to watch with head erect or outstretched, to direct attention to anything, to wait for in suspense.’

J.B. Phillips translates the verse in question, ‘The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own.’

So, then, what are they stretching out their heads, craning their necks, and standing on tiptoes to see?

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors…(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory).

They are standing on tiptoes to see men and women, boys and girls, conformed to the image of Christ, coming in glory.

The bullies of The Silver Chair got a glimpse like this as Eustace, Jill, and the resurrected King Caspian appeared in our world on their return from Narnia (near the very end of the book). The bullies saw the revelation of the children from Narnia:

Aslan turned to Jill and Eustace and breathed upon them and touched their foreheads with his tongue. Then he lay down amid the gap he had made in the wall and turned his golden back to England, and his lordly face towards his own lands…Most of the gang were there…But suddenly they stopped. Their faces changed, and all the meanness, conceit, cruelty, and sneakishness almost disappeared in one single expression of terror. For they saw the wall fallen down, and a lion as large as a young elephant lying in the gap, and three figures in glittering clothes with weapons in their hands rushing down upon them…

The hymn, Amazing Grace puts it like this: ‘When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun…

The Apostle John puts it this way:

  • 1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

The creation is on its tiptoes to see this revelation, this manifestation. It is coming. The creation is ‘groaning’ for it. Every earthquake is as a labor pain. Every tornado brings us closer to glory. Are you groaning? Are you standing on your tiptoes with the inanimate creation?

  • Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
  • Psalm 97:1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 3 Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. 4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. 6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
  • Psalm 98:7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

The hills will sing. Are you singing? The clouds gather in his presence. Do you have his presence? The rivers will clap their hands. Do you clap yours? Get on your tiptoes. You won’t believe what you are going to see.

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