We have argued that one major Old Testament theme is, “As the king goes, so goes the nation.” We took up this idea in order to explain Paul’s comment about the blood of Christ in Colossians 1.20 which celebrates Jesus’ role of preeminence as redeemer of the new creation. But why should the blood of Christ (our overall interest in these studies) be relevant to the new creation at all? To answer this, we must ask why the creation needs redemption.
Paul addresses the idea in Romans 8. Not only did mankind fall because of sin. The realm the race was to rule fell into corruption, too (Rom 8.20-21). So, when God restores the human race, the creation will enter the freedom of its rulers. Then the redemptive work of Christ serves to redeem all creation.
But what is the nature of the corruption and of the redemption in store for creation? To answer the question we may turn to one of the great eschatological kingdom passages of the Old Testament, Isaiah 11. There we read,
“The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together, and a child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. An infant will play beside the cobra’s pit, and a toddler will put his hand into a snake’s den. None will harm or destroy another on My entire holy mountain, for the land will be as full of the knowledge of the LORD as the sea is filled with water” (Isa 11.6-9, HCSB).
The passage is idyllic and ideal. It describes a time in which death and killing will no longer tyrannize the world. If God’s blessing in Genesis (1.20-25) meant fullness of life for the animal kingdom, it was that blessing that was lost because of human sin. If God, then, redeems, humanity, it is no small thing that He would subsequently redeem humanity’s realm.
The aim of that redemption will be the same as the aim of the original blessing. Animals have far more capacity for development than mankind has ever realized. They were not created simply to die. God created all things for His own glory. Our rule of the animal world was intended to express the divine rule, a rule of service, assisting all the earth and its inhabitants to develop to their full potential, and thus to glorify God.
It is interesting that in Genesis 9.1, God does not repeat the so-called cultural mandate when He announced continued blessing on the race. Fallen humanity is incapable of ruling. it is only in the redemption of the race that we may resume our God-given task of rule. When we sit at the royal banquet with the Son of Man, we anticipate our own restoration to royalty, and thus the restoration of our realm, because of the shed blood of the Redeemer King.