Useful Bible Studies > Romans Commentary > chapter 8

God's plan for the plants and animals

Romans 8:20-21

When people first chose not to obey God, the strangest and most extraordinary period of the world’s history began (Genesis chapter 3). We have never known anything else, but it is not normal or natural for people to oppose God, their maker (Isaiah 29:16). In the beginning, people had a right relationship with God (Genesis 1:26-31). In the future, that will be true, too (Revelation 21:1-4). However, in the present period of human history, people’s wrong deeds have separated them from God (Romans 3:9-18; Isaiah 59:2).

This has had a very sad effect on the plants and animals of our world. God has given people authority over the whole world (Genesis 1:28-30). Therefore, God’s judgement against people’s evil deeds was also a judgement against the natural world (Genesis 3:17-19). God could have killed and destroyed all the people at once. However, he chose not to. Instead he permitted innocent animals to die, in order to cover the people’s shame (Genesis 3:21). In that act, he showed how in the future, he would forgive people’s evil deeds by the death of Christ (John 1:29).

God permits this extraordinary period of history so that people have the opportunity to turn to him (2 Peter 3:3-10). Before the return of Christ, the plants and animals must suffer even more in the judgements against people’s evil deeds (for example, Revelation 8:6-13). However, the world’s plants and animals know what so many people refuse to believe (Isaiah 1:3). They do not blame God for their troubles, but they wait eagerly for God to rescue them (8:19). When Christ returns, God will rescue both his people, and the natural world. In that day, the plants and the animals will share in the joy of God’s people (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 55:12-13). That joy will never end (Revelation 21:3-4).

Next part: Can animals pray? (Romans 8:22)


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