Gary W. Ritter
(Isaiah 16-18; Ephesians 1)
In Scripture, we’re told that there are multiple mysteries of God. The classic definition of a Biblical mystery is that it’s something which is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New. One of the most amazing mysteries to which we’re introduced in the Bible is the joining of Jews and Gentiles into one people together in Christ Jesus. The OT said in many places that the Jews in Israel would be a blessing to all nations on the earth. How that would happen was never exactly described, so the ancient readers of the entire collection of writings in the Tanakh never understood that promise. They certainly had no idea that when Jesus came, He would bring the fulfillment of it to unite Jews and Gentiles through His Body, His church.
There is another mystery that flows from the goodness of God in Christ Jesus that is also mind boggling. The verses in Ephesians 1:7-10 outline both the promise and the process:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
This passage is chock full of descriptive words that help us understand how everything works together to fulfill the promise and reveal the mystery.
Everything that happens to bring this about is a result of Jesus and His work on the cross. It is in Him that all this begins. The blood He shed for us brings about our redemption, in other words the ransom that must be paid. Paid for what? As Romans 3:23 tells us:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Because we have committed many trespasses against God, we require His forgiveness, or His pardon that frees us from the penalty we’ve incurred through our sinful disobedience. This is possible only because of the spiritual riches that Jesus has in abundance, and which are given to us through His grace, i.e. His kindness and favor.
And what has Jesus done with this spiritual wealth? He has lavished it upon us. He has gone over and above in giving us His substance and prosperity beyond what we could ever expect.
Now we come to the mystery, i.e. that which can only be seen and understood through the revelation of God. It had been hidden up to the time of Paul’s writing, but through this and other NT epistles, it was made known.
God has an expansive plan of redemption. He intends to return the world to an Edenic state. We see this promise in John’s vision in Revelation 21:1:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
From our current, limited, fleshly perspective, we can’t even imagine what this will be like. However, we do know a couple things. God has a spiritual family, just as He has an earthly one. We see evidence of this family throughout Scripture in the form of the sons of God (bene Elohim) and in the various other entities we know as angels, cherubim, and seraphim. Just as on earth where believers gather to worship God as the Body of Christ, these spiritual entities come together in His presence in heaven. This is shown in various Scriptures, such as in the gathering of the sons of God in Job 1:6, 2:1; the prophet Micaiah’s vision in 1 Kings 22:19, where a lying spirit is put into the mouths of Ahab’s prophets; and through John’s vision in Revelation 4 with the elders on their thrones and the living creatures giving God all glory; among others. These heavenly assemblies are what are known as Divine Council scenes. They show a gathering of the spiritual entities that inhabit heaven, and which are all part of His divine family.
We know that God has a spiritual family and a human family that are today separate and distinct. But God has a plan for the fullness of time. Can we even begin to comprehend this? The day is coming that He will unite all things in Him. Who or what? Things in heaven and on earth.
To put it another way, God will bring together these two families into one at the future point when He creates the New Heavens and the New Earth. This is beyond the Millennial Reign of Christ. During that 1,000-year period, believers who have been Raptured will have glorified bodies, i.e. we will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2). Moreover, at that time, God will give us the responsibility of judging angels that have rebelled against Him (1 Corinthians 6:3).
However, God’s ultimate plan goes far beyond these things. He will bring the divine and the glorified together, united as one single family. In this new reality, much work will be required. Presumably the new Eden will need taming just as the original paradise did. After a couple million years of this combined family effort, God will surely continue to keep us busy, perhaps among the stars; who knows?
The one thing we can be assured of is that God will give us good and pleasant meaningful work, along with any rest we need. Paul sums up this promise in Ephesians 1:11:
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
In fact, as Paul concludes in Ephesians 1:13-14:
… In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
God’s seal of promise – His Holy Spirit – is our guarantee that He will accomplish all that He has planned and purposed – to His glory!
[Author Note: Briefly, I want to set the stage for you as to the nature of most of my articles in this season. Each year I read the Bible through completely at least once – that has been my practice since I came to the Lord in 2005. I remain astounded at what God has done in my life because of that discipline! Each day I read from both the Old and New Testaments. I choose a verse from one of those passages and write my commentary and reflection based on that. In the title of my article, you’ll see the verse I chose. In addition, you’ll see the reading for that day if you’d like to follow along with greater context.]
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for three novels: The Tattooed Cat, Alien Revelation, and for his collaboration with Terry James in writing The Minion Protocols, the third book in James’ Second Coming Chronicles. Earlier this year Gary released a four-volume set of Awaken Bible Study Notes that comment verse-by-verse through Scripture from a Biblical prophetic lens. He is currently editing a sequel to Alien Revelation called Alien Zombie Plague, which he plans to release later in the fall of 2021. Recently, Gary wrote a novella for the new Kindle Vella platform. That story is called Tribulation Rising: Seal Judgments – The Coming Apocalypse. This seven-part short work can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z462WD. Each day this year Gary has been writing commentary and reflections based on his reading through the Bible in a year. The intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can see all his books and blog articles and reach him at his website: www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his older video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol, and more recently on Rumble on his Awaken Bible Prophecy channel: https://rumble.com/c/c-783217.