THE GROANING SOUNDS
OF THE WHOLE CREATION
In today’s main scripture text, Apostle Paul speaks of three kinds of groans. The first is the groan of creation due to the sin of man.
Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
The second is the groan within ourselves.
Romans 8:23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
The third is the groan of the Holy Spirit, who does so on our behalf because we do not know how to pray.
The children of God must be accountable to the groans of all creation and groan in its stead.
Romans 8:26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words
However, God promises that there will surely come a day when the groans will turn into peaceful rest and laughter in our lives, families, and workplaces. We will be so overjoyed that we will dance, clap our hands, and sing praises.
In today’s main text, “groan” or “moan” in Greek is stenazo. This word occurs three times in the New Testament, which is written in Greek.
Mark 7:34 “and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!”
Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
These three kinds of groans are found in the main text in Romans, chapter eight. The book of Romans consists of sixteen chapters, and the eighth chapter is right in the middle of the book. Hence, this message is in the center of the entire volume of the New Testament. The gospel of salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ must be at the center of our lives, that is, in our hearts. If we do not have the cross in our hearts, then we will tilt over to one side. We sin when we don’t have enough, and we also sin when we have too much because we become proud and look down on others. When Jesus becomes the weight in our hearts, in other words, the center of our lives, then it will not matter whether we have too much or too little, because our lives will overflow with praises of thanksgiving.
Paul tells us that the whole creation is groaning. The earth is also filled with the sounds of people’s groaning. Having parents that are not the best; being unable to do well in school; being in an unhappy marriage that is going contrary to one’s wishes; having children who live as they please. No matter where you look, there is no joy or satisfaction to be found—only worries, sighs, and laments. How unfortunate is this! We can understand this by reading Psalm 12:5 and Job 3:24-25.
You have believed in Jesus your entire life, yet have you ever prayed for the whole creation?
Psalm 12:5 “Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”
Job 3:24-25 “For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, And my cries pour out like water. “For what I fear comes upon me, And what I dread befalls me.”
The groaning of creation, or stenazo, means that all living creatures, even the vegetation and plants, have been endlessly groaning in pain. But we are unable to hear the sound of the groaning because our spirits are not awake. We can hear this sound when our spirits are pure.
Romans 1:19 “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”
Psalms 19:2 states, “day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge.” The sound can be heard throughout all creation, but we are unable to hear it. This shows us just how deep in darkness we are. All of creation is groaning, we humans are groaning, and the Holy Spirit takes our groaning and prays to God, groaning deeply on our behalf. All of creation is yearning for the revealing of the sons of God to resolve this chaos (Rom 8:19). As such, the sons and daughters of God who are created in His image must take responsibility for the groans of creation. We must properly understand and believe in the Word of God so that we can groan on behalf of creation. Instead, we have dumped it all on creation, acting as if this has nothing to do with us. God, the Lord of all the universe, desires for all to be restored. Therefore, our role is to save the whole creation by harmonizing with them.
1 Corinthians 15:28 “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
Acts 3:21 “whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”
How long must we suffer in this world? Until all of creation is restored; until the world is restored to its original state before Adam sinned. That is why we as believers must get our acts together. You listen to sermons and receive grace, but that cannot be the end. Have you prayed for the whole creation? Throughout your lives as Christians, you may have prayed for your parents, your children, your family, and your business, but have you ever prayed for all of creation? Everything in the entire universe is suffering because of man. We must not say, “Adam is the one who sinned, not us.” Adam’s sins are also ours. We cannot escape what is written in Romans 5:12.
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
We may not have prayed for all creation up until now because we didn’t know any better, but now that we have heard this Word, please believe that God will be pleased when we pray. It does not cost us anything to pray. Let us pray together for the whole creation. Confess in prayer by saying, “God! Creation is groaning because of our sins!” The ground was cursed because of man’s sin, and the cursed ground brought forth thorns and thistles to curse us in return (Gen 3:17-19). There were no thorns or thistles in the peaceful world before Adam and Eve sinned. Do we not keep our distance from certain people of whom we say, “he is a thorn wherever he goes” or “our house turns into a mess whenever that child comes”? These are all instances of thorns and thistles. The whole creation is indescribably wearisome because of mankind. Solomon realized this in prayer. Knowing this, shouldn’t we also pray for all creation?
Ecclesiastes 1:8 “All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing.”
All things in the universe are eagerly waiting for the children of God to restore the order of creation.
Let me give an example from the world. There are currently over twenty million cars in Korea. This may initially seem like a good thing, but the emissions produced from so many automobiles are creating a city of death. Man created about 70,000 different kinds of chemicals that pollute the oceans, rivers, and soil, turning the earth into a dumpster. War-loving men develop nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, hastening the destruction of the earth. They say that the present amount of nuclear weapons could annihilate all of humanity 308 times over and still have weapons remaining. Isn’t North Korea also making nuclear weapons? Man has ethics, morals, and conscience. Religions in Korea, like Confucianism and Buddhism, teach about giving enlightenment to the human conscience. But there is no religion in North Korea. Communism is their faith. There is no morality in Communism. We must not believe the communists. Beloved saints, when is the end of the world? We must always be alert and ready. Matthew chapters 24 and 25 warn seven times how the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot, so we must be ready and alert. But we still have not realized this. Thinking that nuclear weapons aren’t enough, men are also making biological weapons. There are no biological weapons in South Korea, but North Korea is making them. This all foretells of the end times.
So what kind of people must we be during these times? We must live by the Spirit, according to the Word of God, looking towards the new heaven and new earth. The thoughts of the flesh will now bring destruction.
Romans 8:5-6 “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Sin completely destroys the order of God’s creation. The Garden of Eden created by God was a world of good order. But the serpent, Satan, deceived man by disturbing the order with his flattery and lies. That deception has filled the world today. The problem of sin cannot be resolved until we truly return to God, understand the Word, receive the Holy Spirit and believe in Jesus. God set the order of freedom and religious precepts, but man’s greed destroyed that order, allowing sin to enter. When God created the universe, “He saw that it was good” for each of the first six days (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), and at the end of the sixth day, He saw that “it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Then, the seventh day is not recorded with, “there was evening and morning.” We must realize the profound meaning that is hidden here. God the Creator made with His own hands the universe, nature, man and the animals, and He saw that it was good. Even though there were snakes, lions and bears, they did not bite (Isa 11). It was a world where all creation obeyed when Adam spoke. But evil entered the world because of sin. However, all will be restored, and then the end of the world will come. When God made creation He made the sun, moon and stars to run in order. There was no rain, snow, or windstorm. Only after the judgment of the flood in Noah’s time did spring, summer, fall and winter begin. (Gen 8; 9). But God will restore the world to its original state before Adam sinned. Paradise Lost will become Paradise Restored! How wonderful is this? It is so wonderful that we want to dance and leap in joy.
Will God be pleased with the world that we have created today? Will He be pleased when He looks upon us? Thousands of plants and animals are endangered. Because of global warming, barren land is increasing and icebergs are also melting, which causes flooding due to the rise of sea levels. Nuclear bombs explode and give off radiation pollution. Weapons of mass destruction are produced. The carbon dioxide that we cannot see enters into our bodies every time we breathe. Carbon monoxide covers our atmospheric layers, and our waters are turning putrid. Do you think God is pleased upon seeing all this? This is the groaning of all creation. The sound of the groaning is deafening, and God hears it all. The whole creation is waiting for the people of God. In other words, they are waiting for the revealing of the sons of God who yearn to defend the order of creation (Rom 8:19). May all of you who are hearing this Word become God’s long-awaited sons and daughters, and I pray and bless this upon all of you in the name of the Lord.
We must do this. We cannot just stay still and do nothing. We must pray with faith. Just as a farmer digs into the ground and rakes up the dirt to plant the seeds, when there is care for what has been planted, then the fruit will come. There is no food without labor. God is pleased to save not just one individual but the earth and entire universe. Right now, the heavens and the earth are not one. They are at a discord. The heavens and the earth must become one. We are waiting for that day. When we open up our spiritual eyes and read from the book of Ephesians, we cannot help but be amazed and pray.
Ephesians 1:10 “With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”
We must cultivate a beautiful world where the state of plants and animals are preserved and where the natural world is maintained peacefully without any discord. God is pleased when His people dedicate themselves fully. That is why God established the garden to the east of Eden and put the man whom He created there.
Let us now look at the groans of mankind.
Romans 8:23 “ And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
2 Corinthians 5:4 “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.”
When the earthly tent is torn down, a new tent, made without hands, will be given (2 Cor 5:1). Apostle Paul looked upon this spiritual world. He saw no peace when he looked upon the earth. There were only the sounds of groaning, grumbling, cursing, and sinning. We who have received the Holy Spirit also earnestly groan, or stenazo, as we wait earnestly. It might be the same groan, but the people of the world groan with curses, grumbling, and criticism, while we groan and say, “Please bless us with the restoration of a world without sin, the original world that we were created in.”
Groan while waiting in earnest. Entrust the times and epochs to God.
When will this be? He has told us to pray as the epochs are left to God. The date was not made known to Paul, either. Paul groaned as he yearned to become a child of God. He earnestly waited to be a child of God, to receive the forgiveness of sins through the blood of the cross of the Lord, and to be transfigured physically and spiritually to go before God. Redemption of the body is to be ruled by the Spirit of Christ. You are a new person (Rom 8:1-17). Saints must be set apart from a life according to the flesh and begin to live according to the Spirit. We claim to believe in Jesus but live with the thoughts of the flesh. Now is the time to end this way of life. We must have thoughts of the Spirit. Paul desired to die early so that he could go before God, but there were still those he needed to preach to, so that they could hear the gospel. They had not completely shed away the thoughts of the flesh. Until he fully preaches of the spiritual world on this earth, Paul said that he was hard-pressed between this world and the kingdom of God.
Philippians 1:23-24 “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”
Do we have the same worry as Apostle Paul? We worry day and night about the day’s dinner menu, or about our children, or about moving closer to our grandchildren. The worry never stops. Man cannot live for more than 100 years. We receive the Word, but do we actually live according to the Word? Of course, we must live daily in our flesh. But the ratio between the flesh and the spirit does not even balance out at 50/50. Our daily lives probably take up 80%, while our spiritual lives in church are the remaining 20%. There are many who do not even amount to that.
God is a Spirit that lives from eternity to eternity. He exists on His own. Man is the creation, but was made to live forever like God. However, if a man rejects the Word of God, what do you think will happen? God was concerned because of what Satan might do, so He gave warning, “If you listen to the devil and not depend on God, you will die.”
God said, “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Those that hear and obey the Word, as in those that eat the Word of God, will live forever. But those reject the Word of God and disobeys, even for a moment, will die. This is the law. This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The law of curses will come upon those who do not believe, but the law of life will be upon us who do believe. Is it really acceptable to not believe by having the outrageous notion that you will be like God? May all of you understand this and become immortal living beings by the Word given to you, and I sincerely bless this upon you all in the name of the Lord.
What is the evidence that our bodies have been redeemed, that is, we have become a new people, the children of God? Paul mentioned two things: life and peace. The children of God are in pursuit of life and peace. They do not go around and plot to stir up bad blood between their fellow men. They do not sit in the seat of the scoffers. Beloved saints, we must be reconciled to God. We must yearn to be at peace with our neighbors to the point of groaning.
Romans 8:5-6 “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Job 22:21 “Yield now and be at peace with Him; Thereby good will come to you.”
God gave to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-19; Ps 139:3; Prov 3:2). That is why man must glorify God the moment he opens his eyes. Then every morning, the whole creation will bow and dance and sing before the saints. It is such a pristine melody to hear. It is the sound of all creation clapping in great joy.
Isaiah 55:12 “For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you.”
Didn’t Adam name all things in creation? We are Adam’s descendants; therefore, all creation regards us as masters and bows to us. Human’s don’t die. They are just temporarily asleep. They will be in the ground until the time comes, when on the last day, death and Hades will let them go (Rev 20; 1 Thes 4:13-16). They will resurrect at the sound of the last trumpet and in a moment all will be transfigured and enter heaven. The heavenly hosts will count all the number of people and call out the names. God will never forget His sons and daughters whom He created. No matter how many sons and daughters are born to people, will they ever forget their own children or not know each of their children’s personality? God even calls each of the tens of millions of stars by name. He keeps watch to see whether everyone is fulfilling their own mission. He won’t just sit back and say, “Ahem, I am God.” God remembers and maintains everything and examines every individual detail. We cannot help but be amazed when we realize this Word. God knows all our thoughts in our minds and hearts, even what we whisper (Matt 12). God examines everything that He created every day. It is not something that He does once in a while when He remembers. There are times we might forget and say, “Oh, I wonder how my children and grandchildren are doing!” and then pick up the phone and call. But God will never, on any day, forget even a single moment, minute or second. He tightly holds onto the whole creation. There was something that surprised me recently at the construction site of the church in Gurye. The chaotic and messy basement was cleaned out and new boilers were installed. For every ten boilers, there is a master control device that controls each and every boiler in its section. I feel at peace knowing that this master device ensures the flow of hot water for the entire system.
The Lord of all creation is God, but He entrusted creation to us. Because Adam named everything, it is as if we have named it as well. Creation is delighted to see us and sings and dances. You all have many years of experience and have read the Bible a lot, so you should know: is this something I would lie about?
Jesus let out a deep sigh when he looked upon the deaf and mute man (Mark 7:34). Why did He sigh? At that time there were 24,000 pastors and a countless number of elders, teachers, and Pharisees. But this deaf and mute man could not go to anyone for treatment, and he let out a small groan as he was being crushed under the weight of double, or even triple afflictions. Jesus put his finger in the man’s ear and let out a groan saying, “Ephphatha (be opened)!” Instantly, the man who was blind and deaf from birth had his eyes and ears opened. The religious leaders that saw this criticized and cursed Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath Day. Jesus’ heart had no place to rest. When Jesus met this man, He could hear the man’s groaning. How this man must have cursed his own disabled body! How tormented he was! Jesus groaned in this man’s place before God. He sought forgiveness and healed even the most terrifying illnesses. Please believe that such a world will surely come. It is a world where lions will live alongside sheep and not devour them. When Jesus says “Ephphatha, be opened!” then the mouths of the mute, the ears of the deaf, the eyes of the blind, and the things trapped in one’s heart will all be opened; and all the hatred and cursing towards others will disappear. It will all be cast away. All this will come to pass with the power and authority of a single word of Jesus! This world will be fulfilled in Christ’s second coming. It takes over ten hours to fly to America from Korea, but in the coming world it will happen in a flash. Those that cannot walk will be able to walk to their homeland with their own feet.
Isaiah 55:12-13 “For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. “Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the Lord, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”
Just as it is recorded in Matthew 26:42, God is searching for those who truly seek His will. For those who stenazo, who groan beyond words, either because of debt, their children, or other reasons, may you hear this Word and go to God in thanksgiving, so that your groans will be changed into joy and praise, and the Word of grace will enrich your lives. God has sent the mighty support of the heavenly host to the workplaces, businesses, parents and families of our Pyungkang saints, so that no darkness will touch us and we will always go to God in prayer, giving Him our thanksgiving and praise.
Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.”
I pray that you will always live in thanksgiving. Jesus said that those that commit the sin of blaspheming against the Spirit by saying, “believe in the Word yourself,” will not be forgiven in this age or in the age to come (Matt 12:31). Therefore, no matter how angry or how unpleasant you might feel, do not hurl the Bible away and ignore the Word. Please remember from today’s message that the whole creation is groaning in great anticipation for us, and begin to rule over all creation as its masters. When the creation is grateful and joyful to see us and give glory to God, our glorious existence is revealed. And this is the manifestation of God’s glory. Let us believe in this.
February 5, 2014 – Wednesday Service sermon by Huisun Rev. Abraham Park
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)