Romans 8:20 – For the Creation was subject to futility, not willingly; but because of a subjection in expectation.
For the meaning of this subjugation of Creation, we have to go to Genesis chapter 3 (Genesis 3:17-19). Here we learn that because of Adam’s sin, it was determined by God that he was to return again to the Earth. Because God formed Adam from the fine dust, he would return to the dust as though God would start all over with him. This is the clearest statement we have in those first few chapters of Genesis of how man was at that point subjected to corruption. We also learn from Genesis 3 that because of the sin of Adam, the ground was cursed with thorns; and we may conclude it was at that time the instinct of the predacious nature of animals began. The Greek word translated “futility” is ‘mataiotes’, which means “empty, meaningless, futility, vanity, depravity, frustration”.
God did not subject the Creation to a meaningless existence of life with all of its labor and hardship to ultimately die without hope and return to the dust. God made a promise of a Redeemer and a restoration of all things through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It would be through the reshaping of the inward man by redemption that God would raise up an eternal man by the resurrection. The Greek word ‘elpis’ is translated “expectation” instead of “hope” because the meaning of expectation conveys a greater degree of confidence than that of hope; and because the meaning of ‘elpis’ is accurately related by the word “expectation”.
Pastor Mark Spitsbergen