Ten Points to Bear in Mind When Considering the Redemption of the Material Creation


(1) Creation has a beginning (Gen. 1:1) and therefore an end (Mt. 24:35; 28:20). Though it is ‘good’, even very good (Gen. 1:31; Eccl. 3:11a), like the exceedingly good Promised Land (Num. 14:7) it is intrinsically transient (Heb. 3,4).

(2) It is visible and in direct contrast with our invisible God (Rom. 1:20; Heb. 11:3).

(3) The visible is impermanent by nature (2 Cor. 4:18). Our hope is better (Heb. 7:19), sure (Heb. 11:1) living (1 Pet. 1:3) and invisible (Rom. 8:24f.). Since our calling is heavenly (Heb. 3:1, cf. Phil. 3:14), like Abraham we look for a heavenly city or land (Heb. 10:34; 11:10,13-16, cf. Phil. 3:20).

(4) Since the flesh which is naturally visible and hence perishable cannot be redeemed (1 Cor. 15:50a), neither can the visible and hence perishable creation from which it stems (1 Cor. 15:50b; Heb. 1:10-12).

(5) The present naturally ‘evil’ age (Rom. 8:18a,20; Gal. 1:4, cf. Eccl. 7:13; Rev. 7:14) must give way to the glorious age to come (Luke 20:34-36; Rom. 8:18b; 2 Cor. 4:17; Eph. 1:21; 4:9-10, etc.). So we must escape from the first to gain entry into the second (Luke 20:35; Phil. 3:14; 2 Thes. 2:14; 1 Pet. 5:10, etc.).

(6) The physical creation is ‘manufactured’ or ‘made by hand’ (Ps. 102:25-27; Isa. 45:11-12). It is therefore to be regarded as pejorative and like the old covenant which relates to it as provisional and temporary (Heb. 8:13). It stands in basic contrast with what is ‘not made by hand’ (Heb. 9:11,24, etc.), that is, the eternal (2 Cor. 4:17-5:1; Heb. 12:27).

(7) Since creation is intrinsically ephemeral (Heb. 1:11) and finally futile (Rom. 8:20), the flesh which stems from it is likewise (John 6:63; Rom. 8:6,13; Gal. 6:8). It dies naturally and universally, and unless law is broken it has no sting (1 Cor. 15:56).

(8) While the flesh (dust) is derived from (Gen. 2:7) and confined to this material world (1 Cor. 15:50), the body can be redeemed (Rom. 8:23) as spiritual (1 Cor. 15:44) and glorious in character (Phil. 3:21, cf. Rom. 8:21) in the world to come.

(9) Creation requires dominion or cultivation by man or it becomes a wilderness, even a desolation (cf. Isa. 6:11, etc.) and a curse (Jer.7:12-14; 22:5; 26:9), fit only for destruction (Heb. 6:7f., cf. Dt. 29:22-28; Jer. 4:23-28), like the temple deserted by Jesus ( Mt. 23:38f.). The mere fact that it requires replacement by heaven or the age to come signifies that like the inadequate OT sacrifices it is inherently defective and futile.

(10) Of course, the earth which was created to be inhabited (Gen. 1; Isa. 45:18) was meant to produce a harvest of people who are ‘wheat’ not weeds (Mt. 13; Rom. 8:19, etc.). Under the covenant with Noah the world like the field (Mt. 13:38) will achieve its purpose (Mt. 13:43; 24:31; Rev. 7:9) before it is finally removed (Isa. 51:6; 54:9f.; Heb. 12:27; Rev. 20:11, etc.).

See further my Thoughts on the Redemption of Creation.