An Inconvenient Truth: The Groaning of the Earth in Pain

Hebrews 1:10-12; Romans 8:22

And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Why is the world as it is?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The whole world was sentenced to death because of sin.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When man sinned, the ground was cursed for man’s sake, Genesis 3:17; and with it all the creatures became subject to that curse, became mutable and mortal, “under the bondage of corruption,” Romans 8:21. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which [creation] has contracted by the fall of man: the creation is sullied and stained, much of the beauty of the world gone…It is not what it was in the day it was created.

 JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It was never beautiful, nor cheerful, since Adam’s fall.

 MATTHEW HENRY: Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” and the effect of that curse is, “thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee,” Genesis 3:18. The ground, or earth, is here put for the whole visible creation, which by the sin of man is made subject to vanity, the several parts of it being not so serviceable to man’s comfort and happiness as they were designed to be when they were made, and would have been if he had not sinned. God gave the earth to the children of men, designing it to be a comfortable dwelling to them. But sin has altered the property of it―its spontaneous productions are now weeds and briers, something nauseous or noxious; what good fruits it produces must be extorted from it by the ingenuity and industry of man.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: God is not going to allow man to enjoy the benefits of his position as lord of creation, when as a result of his sin he has forfeited that.

ADAM CLARKE: In the curse pronounced on the ground there is much more implied than generally appears. The amazing fertility of some of the most common thistles and thorns renders them the most proper instruments for the fulfillment of this sentence against man.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): To give him more trouble, and cause him more fatigue and sorrow to root them up: these include all sorts of noxious herbs and plants, and troublesome weeds, which added to man’s labour.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Therefore we may know, that whatsoever unwholesome things may be produced, are not natural fruits of the earth, but are corruptions which originate from sin. It has been falsely maintained by some that the earth is exhausted by the long succession of time, as if constant bringing forth had wearied it. They think more correctly who acknowledge that, by the increasing wickedness of men, the remaining blessing of God is gradually diminished and impaired; and certainly there is danger, unless the world repent, that a great part of men should shortly perish through hunger, and other dreadful miseries.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It seems to me, that at this point, we must pause for a moment to draw certain very important deductions. The first is, that the state of the world is not to be explained, and cannot be explained by the theory of evolution. According to that theory, everything is progressing and developing, and is advancing―that’s the view that you’ve got to hold of man and the whole universe if you subscribe to that theory of evolution.  But here we get the exact opposite to that. Here the plain teaching is that it’s all the result of a fall, that it’s a calamity, that everything is not at a particular stage in an upward trend, but everything has been reduced from what it was to its present state and condition, so the explanation of the state of the whole of creation is not incomplete development―it is the result of the cursing which God has meted out as a part of His punishment to man for the folly of his rebellion and sin…So that creation is as it is, and is suffering, not because of anything that it has done, but because of what man has done.

MATTHEW HENRY: Our visible world is growing old. Not only men and beasts and trees grow old, but this world itself grows old, and is hastening to its dissolution; it changes like a garment, and has lost much of its beauty and strength; it grew old betimes on the first apostasy, and it has been waxing older and growing weaker ever since; it bears the symptoms of a dying world…Sin has made a great change in the world for the worse.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But then that leads to a second deduction, which is this: the all importance for the Christian of the early chapters of the book of Genesis. Now there is a tendency on the part of some to say today that you can be a Christian and hold the doctrines of the Christian faith, but at the same time ride very loosely to the early chapters of Genesis―that it doesn’t matter whether they are true or not, you can hold on to your doctrines of salvation, whether the early chapters of Genesis are literal history, or whether they are some sort of myth. And here again, is an example and an illustration of the fact that that is not, and cannot be the case―you cannot really hold the Biblical doctrine of  salvation without accepting its history. And a part of that history is, that creation is as it is, because at a given point in history, as Genesis 3 tells us, God cursed the earth.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): In the tenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, the essential importance of the historical parts of the Old Testament Scriptures is place beyond all doubt―“They are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come,” I Corinthians 10:11. Here the purpose and value of the historical parts of Scripture are demonstrated.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: So I go on to a third deduction, which is this one: There is no hope for man, there is no hope for creation in terms of evolution. The Bible holds out no hope whatsoever in that respect―that as the centuries pass, things will get better, man will improve, he’ll improve his environment, and at last, you’ll arrive at a state of perfection―the optimistic idea that things are going to advance and develop is quite foreign to the Biblical teaching. The Bible rather teaches that there is to be a crisis, there is to be a judgment, there is to be an end to the world as it is.


This entry was posted in Sin & Unbelief and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.