“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8: 19-22
For those brought up in the church, the Christmas hymn, Joy to the World, flows easily as we sing it door to door or standing in our sanctuaries. In fact, most only glance at the words because of their familiarity with them, and they miss the deeper message the writer of this song intended.
As we examine its words along with Romans 8:19-22, we learn that Jesus intended redemption not only for us but for the whole earth. Paul teaches us in this passage that the earth waits with an “anxious longing” for the return of Christ. According to God’s Word, all of creation has been corrupted by sin and desires to be set free from its slavery. Just as a mother moans and groans in childbirth, the earth suffers from the effects of sin upon it.
We are reminded as we sing this hymn that the Lord “rules with truth and grace.” For a time God chooses to subject all of creation to the futility of sin. However, the day will come when Jesus will return, not as Redeemer of mankind alone, but as Redeemer of the whole earth. His second coming will open our eyes completely and “prove the glories of His righteousness” in all suffering. Together with “heaven and nature,” we’ll sing our praises to Him.
How are we preparing room in our hearts to receive the King of all creation? Jesus told the disciples (at His Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem) that if praise did not come from the people, then the rocks would cry out. As we sing Joy to the World this Christmas season, let us remember that the “fields, floods, rocks, hills, and plains” wait for the day they will join us and “repeat the sounding joy.” What a day it will be when we’re no longer affected by “sins and sorrow,” and the ground will no longer be infested with thorns. The curse will be found no longer, and we will indeed see the “wonders of His love” for all of His creation.