I have examined this passage in greater detail elsewhere (1* See e.g. my Romans 8:18-25), assuming that a purely exegetical approach to it is inconclusive. Here I set out five arguments seeking to prove that sin could not possibly have been behind Paul’s thinking, least of all Genesis 3:17-19 (2* As suggested, for example, by C.E.B.Cranfield, ICC Romans, p.413, and practically all commentators under the influence of Augustine of Hippo).
The sinless Jesus himself as incarnate, that is, flesh, was unavoidably in bondage to the futility and corruptibility that characterize creation. He was mortal or he could not have died, and he was subject to decay or he could not have got older (Luke 3:23; John 8:57, cf. Heb. 1:11). He stood in patent contrast to his Father in heaven (Ps. 102:26f.) who was both immortal (1 Tim. 6:16) and incorruptible (1 Tim. 1:17). As a son of Adam through his mother (Luke 3:38) his earthly life in effect began where Adam’s began (Eph. 4:9, cf. Ps. 139:15). As one who was also made in the image of God (Gen. 5:1-3), his main object was to achieve perfection by conquering the world, the flesh and the devil (Mt. 5:48; Heb. 6:1;7:11). With regard to the world, he had to overcome its natural futility in order to regain his former glory, but this time having assumed human nature (John 17:5,24). Once his work was successfully completed (Luke 13:32; John 17:4) and he had ascended transformed into heaven (John 17:5), he was in a position (Heb. 1:3,13, etc.) as a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) to bring many children to glory (Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:18). On their side, faith in him was both imperative and necessary. And the reason why Paul so strongly emphasized the resurrection of Christ was that if he had not been raised, mankind would have been doomed like the animals (Ps. 49; Eccl. 3:18-21) to the inevitable futility and corruption that characterizes creation (1 Cor. 15:17, cf. Rom. 8:13; Gal. 6:8).
(2) A Manufactured Creation
Creation, including man, was manufactured or “made by hand” (Gk cheiropoietos) as many texts make clear (e.g. Job 10:3,8; Ps. 102:25; 119:73; Isa. 45:11f.; 48:13; 64:8). The visible material creation which includes our fleshly bodies relates exclusively to the visible, hand-written (Col. 2:14, Gk) and hence temporary old covenant (2 Cor. 4:7,16-18, cf. Heb. 8:13). Heaven, which is “not made by hand” (Gk acheiropoietos), is “not of this creation” (Heb. 9:11, cf. v.24). It is the heavenly kingdom, obliquely referred to in Daniel 2:34f.,44f., of which Jesus as the (living) stone not cut by hand was the foundation (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-8). Since it was not like the temporary manufactured earthly temple (Mark 14:58) but eternal (Dan. 4:3,34; 7:14), it replaced not only all earthly kingdoms with feet of clay but finally the entire kingdom of this world, as Revelation 11:15 (cf. 6:14; 8:5; 16:20; 20:11; 21:1-4) indicates. Again, like the spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44) that is heavenly and “not made by hand” (2 Cor. 5:1), it relates exclusively to the eternal new covenant (Heb. 9:15,24, cf. Luke 20:34-36). The difference is that between the transient present age and the eternal age to come (cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16f.). While the former like the old covenant is passing away (1 Cor. 7:31;1 John 2:8,15-17; Rev. 20:11) because it is inherently temporary (2 Cor. 3; 4:18), the latter, which already exists (cf. Gal. 4:26) remains eternally unshakable (Heb. 1:11f.; 12:27). Though still invisible to us it remains nonetheless in prospect (Heb. 6:5, cf. 4:1). (3* Note Rom. 1:20 and Col. 1:16 where things visible and invisible are distinguished. See further my Manufactured Or Not So, Faith and Invisibility – Seeing the Invisible, The Case Against the Redemption of Creation)
(3) Flesh, Death and Sin
In John 8:34f., Jesus talks of those who are the slaves of sin and asserts that unlike the son they do not remain in the house forever. By contrast, in Galatians 4:21-31 Paul conspicuously ignores sin and focuses attention on the fleshly nature of Ishmael the son of the slave woman Hagar. He goes on to assert that Ishmael, the natural-born son who symbolizes the flesh and the old covenant, persecuted Isaac, the potentially (or proleptically) reborn child of promise, and was cast out of the house. From this the apostle infers that Ishmael, as one who is in the permanent bondage of his flesh, will not inherit the heavenly Jerusalem. This ties in with his assertion in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and with Jesus’ insistence that all of us who are born naturally as (physical) flesh (like Ishmael) must be born again, that is, undergo a spiritual birth from above, if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:1-8, cf. 1:13; 6:63). (4* The importance of the ordo salutis or order of salvation is important at this point. See my The Order of Salvation, The Order of Salvation in Romans, Cart-Before-The-Horse Theology, Redemption Applied (Order of Salvation)) Here, significantly, like Paul in Galatians, Jesus does not mention sin, but instead focuses on what we are as unprofitable flesh (John 1:13; 6:63) who emanate from the visible, temporary, manufactured and corruptible earth. Again by contrast, Augustine of Hippo, obsessed with sin as he was, taught that sin, and especially original sin, constituted the essence of this passage (cf. e.g. Needham, p.251, etc.). And even today many commentators and ordinary Christians wrongly follow his lead instead of that of, for example, Bishop Westcott (5* The Gospel of John, 1880, pp.50f., cf. L.L.Morris who stresses man’s earthiness p.219. We may compare this with Paul’s reference to the perishable man of dust in 1 Cor.15:47-49.). (It is worth adding here that Jesus’ argument in John 6:49 regarding the Israelites in the wilderness brings out the fact that perishable food, even manna from heaven (v.31), cannot sustain man eternally. Sin is not the only factor involved in death. See again below.)
But this passage from Galatians has more to teach us. Trying to spell it out as briefly as possible, I draw attention to the two covenants referred to in Paul’s anachronistic allegory (4:24). The only covenant in existence prior to Abraham was the covenant with Noah. After the flood which had threatened universal death, it guaranteed future natural, that is, physical or fleshly life but only until the plan of salvation was completed (Gen. 8:22, cf. Jer. 31:35-40; 33:19-26; Isa. 54:10). The animals in the ark were saved only to reproduce, propagate and then to die. In contrast, as a believer Noah was saved by his “baptism” which prefigured or heralded his regeneration (1 Pet. 3:21).
Now in contrast with Abraham and his son Isaac, no covenant was made with Ishmael, though both he (Gen. 17:20) and Hagar his mother were promised great fruitfulness (Gen. 16:10) under the covenant with Noah which still operates today (cf. Acts 14:16f.; 17:24ff.). On the other hand, the covenant of promise made with Abraham also embraced Isaac (Gen. 17:21; 26:2-5) and Jacob (Gen. 28:3f.) and indeed all Abraham’s spiritual seed (Gal. 3:14,29), though the sensual and faithless Esau repudiated it (Heb. 12:16f.). What this clearly implies is that just as there was no salvific covenant with the fleshly slave Ishmael, so at the beginning there was no covenant with creation or with Adam who also epitomized the flesh (1 Cor. 15:47-49). (6* See further my Did God Make a Covenant with Creation?) The inference I draw from this is that just as the flesh is ultimately unprofitable (John 6:63, cf. 1:13; Rom. 7:18; 8:7f.,13; Gal. 6:7f.), so is the material creation from which it stems. Consequently, like the flesh (1 Cor. 6:13; 2 Cor. 5:1), once it has served its purpose, it is finally destroyed (Heb. 12:27). So, whatever Romans 8:18-25 teaches it certainly does not teach the redemption of creation, least of all from sin and curse. I conclude that the idea that Genesis 3:17-19 lies behind Paul’s thinking in Romans 8 is a figment of commentators’ imaginations.
According to Paul, then, so long as Ishmael as the representative of legalistic Jews is still allegorically at Mount Sinai in mortal flesh (2 Cor. 4:11, cf. Rom. 7:14), he is unable as such to attain to the heavenly Jerusalem by means of a faulty law (Heb. 7:18f.; 8:7), that cannot give life (Gal .3:21, cf. 2:21; 5:2-6). In fact, he along with the unbelieving Jews he represents (cf. Acts 15:1,5) is doomed to death, like a wild ass (Gen. 16:12), even apart from sin.
A third point can be made. Both the Romans and the Galatians passages stress freedom. Just as the law kept those under it in bondage (Gal. 3:23, cf. Rom. 7:1-3,6), so does creation itself especially as flesh (Ps. 49: 12,20; Eccl. 3:18-21, cf. Gal. 6:8; Rom. 8:13), and just as we must escape from the law either by dying to it (Gal. 2:19; 5:1; Rom. 8:2, cf. 7:3) or by keeping it as Jesus did, so we must escape from the corruptible temporal creation by dying to it (Col. 3:1-5) and committing ourselves to Christ (Gal. 6:14, cf. 5:24; John 8:23; 1 John 2:15-17, contrast 2 Tim. 4:10). Failure to find this freedom means inevitable death as Adam was warned in Genesis 2:17. (7* See my Escape) Whereas Jesus escaped at his ascension transformation having in contrast with Adam kept the law, which promised life (Lev. 18:5), and achieved perfection, we, since we are incapable of keeping it (Gal. 2:16; 3:12), are forced to accept the salvation that he alone can offer (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Gal. 3:13f., etc.). In support of this we have only to consider such passages as Matthew 3:7-10 and especially John 8:31-59 where the difference between being merely the fleshly children of Abraham (like Ishmael) and his spiritual children (like Isaac) is stressed. Refusal to believe inevitably means that that we cannot be saved, for we are all fleshly sinners who have failed to keep the law which promised life (cf. Rom. 11:32; Gal. 3:22). Not for nothing did Jesus say that it is a natural necessity (not imperative) for us to be born again to enter the kingdom of God. Why? Because flesh and blood, as opposed to spirit, are intrinsically incapable of inheriting the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 15:50). (8* When Jesus died on the cross he committed his spirit to his Father, Luke 23:46, cf. v.43; John 19:30, but left his body in the tomb. When he rose again his spirit returned to his lifeless body as the spirit of the ruler’s daughter had done to her body when Jesus earlier raised her from the dead, Luke 8:55. In view of the fact that many nowadays erroneously insist that Jesus was glorified at his resurrection, it should also be carefully noted that when the latter was raised, at Jesus’ direction she was given something to eat. As flesh, Luke 24:39, Jesus also ate when he was raised, John 21:9-14; Acts 10:41.) As human beings made in the image of God we have to feed not merely on material bread but on the word of God to live forever (Mt. 4:4). (9* See further my Biblical Dualism) By contrast, animals which are only flesh, and sinless because they do not know the law (cf. Rom. 4:15), are by nature confined to perishable food even though it too is provided by God (Ps. 104:21, etc.). Ishmael, a wild ass of a man, is like them and the Israelites who, though fed by manna (cf. v.31), died in the wilderness (John 6:49, cf. Isa. 31:3). As we saw above, sin is not part of the picture. (10* It has to be said with great regret that the churches even today hold a false view of the order of salvation. Assuming original sin and regeneration as its cure a la Augustine, they have put the new birth first and hence have “sinful” babies baptized in order to regenerate them! Needless to say in this scenario, development or evolution and the perfecting process from flesh to spirit are hidden, even abolished, 1 Cor. 15:46. See further my articles on the order of salvation referred to above.)
It should further be noticed that both Romans 8:18-25 and Galatians 4:21-31 indicate the nature of the freedom that is anticipated in the age to come. In the Romans passage freedom involves adoption and invisible glory (vv.21,24f.); in Galatians it involves birth according to the Spirit and a place in the invisible heavenly Jerusalem. Clearly the two are one and the same and they are both attained by faith and not by sight (cf. 2 Cor. 5:6-8). Creation (Rom. 8:18-25) and its corollary the flesh (Col. 3:1-5) spell bondage and both are necessarily excluded.
I conclude then that these two factors, sin on the one hand and natural physical corruption on the other, are, though closely related, separate categories of permanent relevance and validity (cf. Job). To confuse flesh and spirit (1 Cor. 15:35-55) with sin and grace (Rom. 5:12-21) as the church has constantly done for centuries is to court theological disaster. In Romans 8:18-25, as in Galatians 4:21-31 (cf. John 3:1-8; 1 Cor. 15:42-55 and 2 Cor. 4:7-5:9), sin is not on the horizon: the focus of Paul’s attention is natural physical corruption followed by spiritual adoption/regeneration (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48f.), and to drag sin into the picture is eisegesis not exegesis. In Matthew 6:19f., Mark 13:8, Luke 12:33, 13:1-5, 16:9 (cf. 21:23,35), and so forth, Jesus clearly makes the same distinction. In these verses he focuses on both sin and the corruption naturally inherent in all created things, and these obviously include man according to the flesh (Isa. 45:11f.; 51:6; Heb. 1:10-12). (11* Natural corruption is surely the unmistakable implication of the comparison between Romans 1:20 and Hebrews 12:27.)
Paul says that as the product of the temporal creation the creature was subjected by God to futility not on account of sin (which obviously could not occur until the commandment (law) had been given) but in hope (Rom. 8:20). That hope turns out to be an invisible (cf. Heb. 11:1), that is, a spiritual and hence an immaterial, hope (Rom. 8:24f.). In light of Romans 1:20 and Hebrews 12:27 this hope must be the better (Heb. 7:19) or living hope (1 Pet. 1:3) of sharing the heavenly glory of God (Rom. 5:2; 8:30; 2 Cor. 4:17; Gal. 5:5; Col. 1:5,27) where bodily corruption (decay) does not figure (Luke 20:34-36; 1 Pet. 1:4). Little wonder that Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:44 talks of a “spiritual” as opposed to a natural or physical body (cf. Luke 20:34-38; Rom. 8:23)! Along with the rest of the material creation (Zeph. 1:18; Heb. 1:11, etc.), the latter is in fact destroyed (1 Cor. 6:13; 2 Cor. 5:1, cf. Phil. 3:19; Rom. 16:18) by death and corruption on account of sin (Rom. 8:10) as Adam’s was when he failed to meet the condition of life by keeping the commandment (Gen. 2:17, cf. Lev. 18:5).
(5) Corruption and Incorruption
Creation has both a beginning (Gen. 1:1) and, because it is temporal, a necessary end (1 John 2:17; Rev. 21:1). The eternal God has neither (Job 36:26; Ps. 90:2; 102:27; Isa. 41:4; 48:12; 57:15; 66:1, cf. Isa. 43:10b; Heb. 7:3). So while the material creation is inherently perishable (Ps. 102:26), its Creator is imperishable (12* Rom. 1:23, Gk. The Greek is important since practically all English translations fail to translate Rom. 1:23; 2:7 and 2 Tim. 1:10 accurately.) In other words, visible created things (Rom. 1:20) are not only temporary, as Paul asserts explicitly in 2 Corinthians 4:18, but as such they are by nature shakable and will be removed (Heb. 12:27, cf. 2 Pet. 1:13f., Gk). Since God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29) and Christ himself will return in fire (2 Thes. 1:7f.; 2:8; Rev. 20:9) both to rescue and destroy (cf. Amos 4:11; Jude 23), the material cosmos will be subject to combustion quite apart from sin (2 Pet. 3:7,10-12, and note also 1 Cor. 3:12-15; Heb. 6:7f., 12:27). Genesis 19:24,25 and 28 (cf. Luke 17:28-30) indicate that both the inhabitants (cf.. Gen. 6:11-13 and “those who dwell on the earth” in the book of Revelation) and their habitat (cf. Heb. 6:7f.) were destroyed as in Revelation 6:14; 20:11; 21:1, etc.
In Luke 21:9,23 distress, which stems from earth’s natural corruption, is the necessary means by which God expresses his wrath against the people (cf. Hab. 3:8; Rev. 6:12-17; ch.16.). As the Jewish Book of Wisdom (5:17, JB) says, “He will arm creation to punish his enemies” (quoted by Wilcock, p.143). When the final storm comes those who have failed to build on the rock of the words of Christ (cf. Mt. 24:35) are doomed (Mt. 7:24-27).
In light of these arguments alone, I conclude that Romans 8:18-25, like 2 Corinthian 4:7-5:9 with which it corresponds (13* See my The Correspondence Between Romans 8:12-25 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10), has nothing to do with sin. Creation is naturally subject to decay and destruction quite apart from sin (Heb. 1:11), and since the corruptible (perishable) cannot inherit the incorruptible (imperishable) (1 Cor. 15:50b), English translations referring to ‘creation’ as opposed to ‘creature’ like the NIV and ESV currently in use in 2010 are highly misleading. (14* It must be added here that the NIV consistently translates ‘flesh’ as ‘sinful nature’ even in Romans 8:13 and Galatians 6:8. With its Augustinian bias, it clearly misses the point.) Referring to the ‘creation’ instead of the ‘creature’, they are by implication suggesting the redemption/transformation of the material ‘creation’ as opposed to the spiritual ‘creature’ made in the image of God. To that extent, they are denying the plain teaching of Scripture. It is not the ‘creation’ which includes the flesh, but the ‘creature’ as the image of God who will be set free from (escape from) its bondage to decay and exchange it for the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom. 8:21, 23, cf. John 8:32,36; 11:25f.; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; Gal. 5:1; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2). The contrary view suggesting that creation is subject to adoption is, all else apart, plainly absurd. Furthermore, it flies in the face of typology and the escape of the children of Israel from ‘ruined’ Egypt (Ex. 10:7) to which they were under strict orders never to return (15* Dt. 17:16; 28:68, cf. Acts 13:34 on which see my No Return To Corruption). The old KJV translation is clearly correct at this point. As Jesus implied in Matthew 6:19f., 24:35, etc., the transience of all material things which is even recognized from time to time in the somewhat materialistic OT (e.g. Isa. 51:6; 54:10), is basic to the NT. Bluntly, the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable (1 Cor. 15:50b). (16* See my Biblical Dualism)
There is a final point to make. The earth is obviously older (a significant word!) than man as both Genesis and modern scientific research plainly indicate (cf. Job 15:7, contrast Ps. 90:2; Prov. 8:25), and it was clearly subject to decay before corruptible man who emanated from it came on the scene. It had to produce perishable food for both man and animal in preparation for their arrival or they would have starved to death (Gen. l; John 6:31-58). Grass is a symbol of death throughout Scripture. If it is argued that vegetable death is different from animal death (nephesh), we have to reckon with the fact that Isaiah says all flesh is grass (40:6-8, cf. John 6:49). (17* In 1 Peter 1 in contrast with the word of the Lord, v.25, cf. vv.3f., reference is made to animal, vegetable and mineral death.) This being the case, sin was no more involved than when God fed the lions (Ps. 104:21, etc.). The Augustinian worldview is manifestly false and is clearly a perversion of biblical teaching. In fact, sin is alien to crucial passages like John 3:1-8, Romans 8:18-25, 1 Corinthians 15:35-55 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:10 whose ‘obvious’ meaning many under the spell of Augustine distort. (18* On these see along with my “Correspondence” articles my Worldview, The Biblical Worldview, Death Before Genesis 3, A Double Helping, Did Jesus Rise Physically From The Grave?)
1. It is worth noting with regard to the physical/material creation that reference is made not to its redemption, purification by fire or transformation (except in the sense of replacement, e.g. Heb. 1:12), which according to Paul is impossible (1 Cor. 15:50b), but to the revelation, the appearance and the parousia (presence or arrival) of Christ when creation flees away (Rev. 20:11, cf. Dan 2:34f.,44f.). The inference I draw from this is that the kingdom of the world is destroyed and replaced by the kingdom of our Lord (Rev. 11:15, cf. 21:1-5). Perfection (maturity, completeness) has always been the goal or telos of man, and perfection is found in God alone (Mt. 5:48) whose throne is heaven. By contrast, the earth, over which man is called to exercise dominion, is his footstool (Mt. 5:34f.). (19* Physical perfection or maturity is of course achieved in this world but it is followed by the inevitable but natural ageing, decline and death of all created things, Rom. 1:20; Heb. 1:11; 12:27. Sin is not directly involved though it can be a potent exacerbating factor.) Jesus was our pioneer to a ‘remaining’, hence pre-existing, eternal and ‘unshakable’, glory (Col. 1:27; Heb. 2:10; 12:28, cf. John 17:5,24). In this scenario humans are given a spiritual, heavenly or glorious body like that of Jesus himself (Phil. 3:21, cf. 1 Cor. 15:45-49). So continuity is bodily not fleshly. Dunn accurately and succinctly sums up the situation when he says that soma can cross the boundary of the ages, whereas sarx belongs firmly to this present age (20* James Dunn, WBC Romans, p. 391, Theology, pp.70ff. In note 92 on p.71 of his Theology, Dunn writes, “Possibly … Paul assumed the transmutation of Jesus’ dead body into a spiritual body” a view with which I respectfully beg to differ and which in any case appears to depend on his false assessment of Romans 8:18-25, p.488, cf. pp.100f., WBC Romans pp. 470ff. In fact, his interpretation of Romans 8:18-25 is plainly at loggerheads with his understanding of the status of the flesh which he implicitly admits shares creation’s natural futility, p.391. What is true of the one is true of the other. My contention, in contrast with Dunn’s, is that since man as flesh shares in creation’s natural corruptibility and futility, Rom. 1:23, his pursuit of worthless things, Jer. 2:5,13; Rom. 1:21-23; Dt. 4:15-19; Luke 12:33f.; 16:9; 1 Pet. 1:18, etc., renders him worthless. Otherwise expressed, for man who is spirit, there is no final future in either creation or the fleshly creature. See further my essays listed below.). So far as the new heavens and new earth are concerned (Isa. 65:17ff.; 66:22ff.), they are not a new edition of the first (cf. Morris, Revelation, p.243). Since they are parallel with the new or heavenly Jerusalem which already exists (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22-24, etc.), this OT concept must be a periphrasis for heaven where righteousness permanently dwells (Mt. 6:10,33; 2 Pet. 3:13). And the hope of our righteousness (Gal. 5:5) through faith in Christ is heavenly glory.
2. One of the chief arguments for the redemption of creation popular today (2010) is the so-called resurrection transformation of Jesus. It can be briefly put as follows: If Jesus at his resurrection from the dead was glorified as earth-derived flesh, then it clearly follows that creation can likewise be glorified. The two ideas stand or fall together. Therefore, if the one proves false, so does the other. So, since the resurrected Jesus was physically visible, tangible and audible (1 John 1:1-3, cf. Heb. 12:18-21), we are compelled to conclude that he was not glorified (John 20:29; 2 Cor. 4:18). But once he was restored to his normal state as flesh (Luke 24:39, cf. John 10:17f.) thereby proving his physical resurrection, he was ready to be glorified at his ascension (John 20:17, cf. 1 Cor. 15:51f.).
What is written above demonstrates the falsity of the ‘resurrection’, transformation, rejuvenation, regeneration, salvation, redemption or repristination of creation as opposed to the spirit of man made in the image of God (John 3:1-8; 1 Pet. 1:9; 4:6; Heb. 12:23). Having said this, in these days of global warming, deforestation, loss of species and the like, we need to keep in mind the importance of healing and restoring creation in accordance with widespread OT teaching. After all, until we die we have to live here on earth and there is no reason why we should not do so as comfortably as is reasonably possible.
(I have sought to deny the resurrection/transformation/glorification of Jesus especially in my essays Re The Body of The Resurrected Jesus, Restoration and Resurrection, When Was Jesus Transformed?, Did Jesus Rise Physically From The Grave?, Romans 8:18-25).
1. Galatians 4:27 (Isa. 54:1) surely leads to the conclusion that despite her physical infecundity, the children of the free woman, whose spiritual offspring are through faith made up of both Gentiles and Jews, are greater in number than the natural children of the slave woman. If this is so, can we draw the conclusion that at the last judgement the number of the saved (Rev. 7:9) will be greater than the number of the lost? Since even a little faith like that of a mustard seed is enough to remove mountains (Mt. 17:20; Mark 4:30-32), I remain optimistic on this issue believing that ultimately grace will outweigh sin (cf. Rom. 5:20). (On the order of salvation see my essays referred to above. The attempt to put regeneration first on account of original sin, which does not exist, has disastrous consequences for our understanding of the plan of salvation.)
2. As I write in July 2010 there is yet more evidence of disturbance in nature, this time in China and Pakistan. Though now that I am getting old and my reading is limited, I have come across very little by way of Christian comment on this type of thing. Perhaps this is because it is now recognized that to attribute natural disaster including global warming exclusively to sin, as has been the habit in the past, is both offensive and incredible to many. But on the assumption that disturbances in the physical realm, though often man-made as crimes and wars are, reflect in the main natural corruption, we do well to take note and reread the teaching of Jesus on the issue (e.g. Mt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 17:22-37; ch.21). They really may be signs, distresses (Luke 21:23, 34f.), birth pangs if you like (Mt. 24:8; Rom. 8:22, cf. John 16:21f.; 1 Thes. 5:3), of the end of the physical world, no matter how far away that final end may be.
There is another point: the kingdom of God, as described, for example, in Matthew 13:32, would appear to replace the heathen kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:12,21. (For comment see France, p.527, Bock, p.1226.) If so, little wonder that John wrote Revelation 11:15 (cf. Phil. 2:9-11). Furthermore, we do well to remember that God so loved the world (John 3:16), even if many, if not most, appear to reject his Son (John 1:10-13).
D.L.Bock, Luke, 9:51-24:53, Grand Rapids, 1996.
C.E.B.Cranfield, ICC Romans, Edinburgh. 1975.
J.D.G.Dunn, Romans 1-8, Dallas, 1988.
The Theology of Paul the Apostle, London/New York, 1998, 2003 ed.
R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, Grand Rapids, 2007.
L.L.Morris, The Gospel According to John, Grand Rapids, 1971.
Revelation, London, 1969.
N.R.Needham, The Triumph of Grace, London, 2000.
M.Wilcock, The Message of Revelation, Leicester/Downers Grove, 1975.
B.F.Westcott, The Gospel of St.John, repr. London, 1958.