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The Last Days Duncan Heaster  
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The Spiritual Aspect Of The Natural Creation

There is good reason to think that God does not wish us to perceive the natural creation as having no spiritual sensitivity at all. Seeing that the Angels control the natural world, each of its elements to some degree manifests them. This may be the reason for the following Biblical hints that we are meant to recognize a certain degree of spiritual awareness in the natural creation:

- Man who does not know God's ways is like the animals (Ps.48:20). Yet all men have some degree of moral consciousness. Seeing that they are in the same spiritual state as the animals with regard to responsibility to God, is it possible to infer that animals too have a certain level of morality? Can they too discern God's ways and be aware of Him, without being responsible to Him?

- God spoke to Daniel's lions, to Balaam's donkey and to Elijah's ravens. Those animals are portrayed as being responsive to God's commands. Thus at the end of the book of Job we read of Leviathan praying to God, asking Him for things (Job 41:3). God even speaks of Himself as playing with His animal creation, having a master/servant relationship with them (Job 41:4,5).

- The trees and plants rejoice because of the prospect of the second coming (Ps.96:12-14 cp. Acts 17:31). Josephus records that there were many strange signs in the natural creation in the run up to AD70; as there will be in the last days which they prefigured?

- " The young their meat from God...they all wait upon thee" (Ps.104:21) for their food; as Leviathan also prayed to God for his food.

- Rom.8:21 may have some reference to the natural creation. The whole of creation earnestly looks forward to the manifestation of the sons of God. The whole of creation was made " subject to vanity, not willingly" - it was not their fault that the curse came upon them. " The whole of creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together" , longing to share in the manifestation in glory of God's spiritual creation. The sadness and bitterness of the animal creation is due to their longing for that day of " the glorious liberty of the children of God" in which they will share.

- Jer.8:7,8 uses the " stork in the heavens" as an exhortation to wayward st1:country-region>Israel. He says that the animals have a sense of future events which will be brought by the Lord, and so even more so should God's people. As the stork does not build a beautiful nest before it migrates, neither should God's people just before their calling away.

- Heb.1:12  speaks of the natural creation as a vesture which will be folded up and put away. Job likewise speaks of the natural creation as " the outer fringes" of God's garments. If God clothes Himself with them, they must to some degree be connected with Him personally, rather than being irrelevant to God's self revelation to man.

- Ps.69:34 speaks of how everything in the sea, heavens and on earth should praise God. This cannot refer to believers in all those places. Rev.5:13 uses similar language to describe how every creature in the sea, under the earth and on the earth and in Heaven, all praised God for Christ's ascension into Heaven. The dead do not praise God. The impression is given that the whole natural creation did in some way render praise to God.

- Job 35:11 says that God teaches us more than He does the animals; as if He does teach them to some degree. " Doth not even nature itself teach you..." shows that Paul saw that the natural creation does have something to teach us. For example, the physical state of the natural creation in Israel reflects the state of God's people. Lev.18:25 says that because  " The land is defiled, therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it...the land vomiteth out the inhabitants" . Time and again, the prophets dropped their words against the land of Israel (e.g. Ez.7; Hos.1:2; Am.7:10; Mal.3:12; Hab.2:8; Ez.9:9; 14:13), seeing that the land was so closely associated with the people. The physical joy to come upon the land will therefore reflect the spiritual joy of the inhabitants; showing that many of them will repent and accept the Gospel. It may even be that there will be literal physical healing in some of the trees in the land, to match the spiritual healing which will be present there too (Ez.47:12). In the same way as the trees give their fruit monthly, so it may be that we too give some special spiritual blessing to the people under our jurisdiction on a similar regular basis. " From one new moon to another (monthly?), and from one sabbath to another (weekly), shall all flesh come to worship before me" (Is.66:23) surely refers to the mortals presenting themselves before us, rather than going to Jerusalem each week.

- " They (the animals) shall not hurt nor destroy...for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord" (Is.11:9) shows that the animals will somehow be affected by the abundant knowledge of the Lord.

The Natural Creation In The Millennium

If the curse on the whole creation is to be greatly reduced in the Millennium, we can look forward to the spiritual aspect of the natural creation being greatly developed. The following passages indicate how this will happen:

- Having described how the wild animals would desolate Babylon, Is.35:1 goes on to speak about how  " The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them" , the mournful creatures who were once used by God to mark the desolation of His enemies. There will be a sympathy between the physical state of the wilderness and that of the animals; because of them, the wilderness will blossom. Is.35:8,9 speaks of the way of holiness, which would be free from the lion and " ravenous beast" , presumably because the aggression of the animals in that area will be taken away. " They shall not be found there" may imply that they will be found in other areas of the earth, where the Kingdom conditions have not yet spread to.

- Is.35:6,7 LXX implies that there will be a channel of water flowing out from Jerusalem into the deserts which subdivides into further channels. This language of flowing recurs in Is.2:2-4, regarding the flowing of the nations to Jerusalem; as if the spiritual state of the people, flowing to Jerusalem, will be related to the flowing of physical water and blessings from God.

- " The beasts of the field shall honour me...because" God gives water in the desert to his people (Is.43:20). The thankfulness of the desert tribes for these things will be based upon that of the natural creation. Seeing that even in this life they ask God for their food and water, they will rejoice the more when God gives them these things abundantly in the Millennium.

- Is.44:23 speaks of the joy which there will be in the forests and trees " for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel" . The joy of Israel's redemption will somehow be shared by the natural creation (cp. note on Is.43:20 above).

- The impression is often given that sitting under our own vine and fig tree will mean lazing away the day, only needing to expend minimum effort on the natural creation. However, Am.9:13 presents a picture of zealous agricultural work, with the ploughman overtaking the reaper, working with a real enthusiasm. The great physical blessings will therefore provoke hard, joyful work amongst God's people of natural Israel. The emphasis on the production of wine in this and other such prophecies, is surely to hint at the great zeal which there will be for the work of Christ.

Deserts In The Millennium

Is.42:15 is in the context of the Gospel being spread in the Millennium. But some mountains will also be made waste, and " I will dry up their pools" , rather than the wilderness becoming pools. This is the exact opposite of Is.41:18, describing the blessings of the Millennium for those who accept the Gospel. This indicates that the state of the natural creation will reflect the spiritual response of people to the Gospel; if they reject it, then the physical conditions will be the very opposite of what they will be in the areas which accept the Gospel. " Where there were a thousand vines...all around shall become briars and thorns" (Is.7:23,25) is another example of this reversal of the planned blessings for those who wilfully reject the Gospel. Seeing that satan will be bound, the curse will be greatly reduced, and yet it will have been conditional upon people's acceptance of the Gospel, we can conclude that the mortals will generally accept the Gospel. Thus the mortal priests will not wear linen garments, so that they will not sweat (Ez.44:18); this evidently alludes to the curse of working in the sweat of our face. The decrease in literal sweat is not necessarily automatic; it will come as a result of obedience, in this case to the commands concerning clothing.

Joel 3:19, in a Kingdom context, speaks of Egypt and Edom as being a " desolate wilderness" in the Millenium presumably because they refuse the Gospel. Hence Zech.14:16 warns that if Egypt do not keep the feast of Tabernacles, they will not have rain. In similar vein God warned Seir (i.e. Edom?): " When the whole earth rejoiceth (in the Millennium), I will make thee desolate...I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return" to prosperity, as other areas do in the Millennium (Ez.35:14,9). Babylon will remain " a dry land, and an Arabah" (Jer.50:12 Heb.). The Arabah or Negev of Israel will be changed (Is.35:1,2); whilst Babylon will become like that once was. The curses upon Israel are brought upon her unrepentant enemies, and the physical state of their land will bear witness to that. Thus the physical abundances of the Kingdom prophecies will not come upon these nations; although presumably most other nations will respond.