Turning Point / New Year’s Eve

Romans 8:18-27

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed

One of the unique things about history is being able to look back and to see the moments and turning points in which, everything changed. It’s neat to see how some of the smallest, and seemingly unimportant events, at a certain moment in time, had a bigger significance than anyone would have ever imagined. Take the Civil War for example. Historians have studied the conflict so much that they are able to know the exact day, place, and time of the war’s key turning point. This event happened at day two of the battle of Gettysburg where Lieutenant Joshua Chamberlain stopped the Confederate attack on Little Round Top. After that moment, the war went entirely in the Union’s favor. It was the moment that won them the war and changed American history forever even though it seemed like an ordinary moment in battle. It certainly was a key turning point.

In Romans 8, we see the effects from another important turning point in history. This turning point took place with a newlywed couple in a wonderful paradise. This paradise was a wonderful garden that was full of life, fruit bearing trees, vegetation, and peaceful animals. This place was called “Good” by its Creator. Everything was fine and dandy until a crafty serpent slithered up next to the woman named Eve and said, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” She responded that they could eat of any tree except the one that is in the midst of the garden. She added that they couldn’t even touch it lest they die.

But the serpent was persistent and shrewd, and reassuringly said, you certainly won’t die. Don’t you want to be like God, knowing good and evil? And with that, she grabbed the fruit of the tree, took a bite, and then served some of it to her husband, a man named Adam. With that first bite, history’s first major turning point happened along with the consequences that would follow. As they ate, their eyes became opened, and they realized that they were naked. They decided to hide because of that.

But the Creator, the Lord, decided to look for them. When Adam and Eve came out of their hiding, a confrontation broke out. The Lord asked if they ate from the forbidden tree, and Adam replied, it’s your fault God! You gave me that woman Eve who gave me the fruit, and I ate it. Then the Lord asked Eve, what is this that you have done? and she replied, the serpent deceived me, and I ate. What happened next were the consequences of that turning point. Both the serpent and the woman are cursed because of their sin. Next comes the man’s curse, and then one more… creation’s! The Lord told the man, Because, you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you. Who knew that one little bite from a piece of fruit could do so much damage?

In Romans 8, Paul tells us that the effects of this turning point are still felt today! He writes, for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. As man fell, so did creation, whether it deserved to or not. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, creation has come under God’s judgment too. It’s no longer able to fulfill God’s purposes. Instead of producing fruit and flowers, it produces thorns and thistles, a sign of its curse. Creation longs for freedom and redemption from the futility, corruption, and decay that it is subjected to. It longs for the completion of our redemption at the last day so that it too will be renewed, restored, and free.

But creation isn’t the only one that suffers from that turning point in the Garden of Eden. The apostle says, for we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. With creation, we groan too because of the suffering and hardships that we endure because of Adam and Eve’s sin.

We’re still enduring the effects of their sin some 5,000 plus years later! We feel the effect of sin in our bodies and see it in our lives. We endure the frustration and devastation that comes with bodies that are susceptible to diseases like cancer, diabetes, strokes, depression, and arthritis. We bear the pain of loss and heartache that comes from the death of a wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, or sister. We struggle with the stresses that come with life, like worries about making ends meet, or even our own futures. All of these things are the results and effects of sin in our world. We look forward and long for a time when we will be free from sin, suffering, sickness, pain, and problems. With creation, we long for that final day when Jesus will make all things new. We long for the completion of our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Fortunately, Paul is a man who knows his history, and he points to another turning point in the history of the world. This event took place outside of a major city on a major holiday. It happened on the heels of a trial where an innocent man was condemned to die in the place of all. This innocent man was bruised, beaten, and broken. He was stripped naked and wore a crown of thorns that mocked His Kingship. He was nailed to a lifeless tree, a cross, and hung there for three agonizing hours. The turning point continued three days later at an open tomb where this once dead man stood alive again.

In Jesus Christ, the Creator came to reclaim and restore His entire creation. On the cross, Jesus bore our sin and its curse. At the tomb, His victory is announced, and His resurrection signals that creation itself will also be made new. All of history is heading towards our Lord’s return where the salvation Jesus won at the cross and tomb will be fully experienced. Creation will be liberated, transformed, and renewed. We too will be free from sin, made new, and have our adoption complete. Our bodies will be redeemed, and we will enjoy paradise with our Creator and Savior.

As people who live in this hope, we enjoy the blessings and effects of that turning point that happened at Jesus’ cross and tomb. We’re saved and are at peace with God now, but unfortunately, we’ll still have to wait for the completion of that salvation at the last day. We’ll have to endure the difficulties of living in a sinful and fallen world. However, we have something that creation doesn’t have, God’s Spirit, that helps us endure this waiting and these circumstances. Paul writes, likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

In our baptism, we have been given the Holy Spirit who strengthens us. This Spirit encourages us and is with us in the various sufferings and trials that we will endure. One of the specific ways that He helps us though is with prayer. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Sometimes in life, the sin and destruction that we experience in this world can leave us speechless, dumbfounded, and unsure of what to pray about or to say. Sometimes we don’t even know what we should ask for, or even, what we truly need. Paul tells us that the Spirit helps us with our prayer life. He knows what to say and ask even when we can’t muster the words or a thought. He intercedes on our behalf and intercedes for us according to God’s will. He helps us pray to the One Who loves, forgives, and cares for us. He helps us pray to the One Who does all things for our good. We can endure in sufferings because we have been given the Spirit Who helps us pray to the One Who can help us! We can endure because Our Lord will make all things new.

History is full of turning points, those moments in which things have never been the same since. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the greatest of those. For although we are saved now, we still have to wait for the completion of that salvation at His return. While we wait, we are given His Spirit Who helps us to endure and pray. IN JESUS’ NAME, AMEN.