“In the last of these days, He spoke to us in [His] Son, whom He appointed heir of all, through whom also He made the ages” [author’s translation].
After a reference to the nature of the One through whom God spoke in the New Testament, One who shares the divine essence and nature, the writer continues with two clauses which describe the place of this Son in God’s purpose.
As we think about this, there are at least two other verses we should include here:
Ephesians 3:11, According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (NKJV).
2 Timothy 1:9, [God] has saved us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before time began.
We have difficulty grappling with the idea of “eternity” because we are creatures whose lives are described in the Bible as “wisps of vapor,” James 4:14b. We can’t seem to get much beyond the boundaries of our own lives to realize that God is much greater than we are, and that what He is doing, and wants to do, extends far beyond our earthly years. We might count seconds, but God counts “ages.”
In the “eternal” purpose of which the writer speaks, Jesus Christ plays a central role, for it is by Him that God’s purpose commenced, it is through Him that it continues, and it is for Him that it will eventually culminate.
2. “Heir:” His Exalted Position.
“Whom”. Jesus Christ in His incarnate state, that is, as Man. He did not cease to be Man when He returned to Heaven. As God, everything already belonged to Him; as Man, they were given to Him by the Father, even before the Ascension, Matthew 11:27; 28:18.
“He appointed”, see also Ephesians 3:11; 1 Peter 1:20; Galatians 4:1-4. As the earthly son was under the control of his father, who determined the conditions and time of the son’s assuming heirship, so the Heavenly Father has determined how and when the Son will actually receive the prominence of which such verses as Colossians 1:18 speak. See also Matthew 20:23; Acts 1:7.
“Heir of all”. Implicit in the idea of sonship is heirship. Heirship implies dominion. God’s expressed creation purpose for Adam included dominion, Genesis 1:26, 28. Because of the Fall, Adam forfeited that dominion and Satan moved in as “god of this world,” 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2. His rule can certainly be seen in recent events.
On the Cross, Christ triumphed over and defeated Satan, though he still walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom [and what] he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8. Eventually, though, he will be put down and put away for good, Revelation 20:2, 10.
The Lord Jesus Himself told us that He came “to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. While the primary reference might be to sinners whom Jesus came to save, we believe that a wider application may be made. Whatever the first Adam lost, the Second Adam came to restore, and more, through His incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension, cf. Romans 8:18-22.
While a complete restoration awaits the arrival of the new heavens and the new earth, Revelation 21:1, we believe there will be a “preview,” if we may put it like that, in what is known as the Millennium, which we define as that period of time between the Second Coming and the Great White Throne Judgment, during which time Jesus Christ will rule over this earth in exacting righteousness, Revelation 19:15, that He will indeed and truly sit on the throne of His father David, Luke 1:32, and that, during that time, the OT prophecies of a world-wide time of righteousness and peace will be fulfilled. The length of this time is given 6 times in Revelation 20, which we deny in any way is to be brushed off as “merely symbolic” or as fulfilled in this present, increasingly wicked age.
We’re aware of the difficulties of this position and that many good men do not see it to be Biblical. We further admit that there might be a present aspect of the kingdom; nevertheless, we do not see how such Scriptures as Matthew 8:11, 12; 19:27-29; 20:20-23; Mark 14:24. 25; Luke 22:15-18, 29, 30, with many others in both testaments, can be said to be “fulfilled in the church,” that is, if the Word of God has any meaning at all.
3. “Made the Ages”: His Eternal Power.
“through whom”. Through the agency of the Son, the Father brought everything into existence. In Colossians 1:16, Paul wrote that all things were created in Him and through Him. “Through Him” speaks of the mediate agency of the Son, and “in Him” indicates the continuing power and providence that He exercises in moving God’s eternal purpose forward. Science is looking for a “unifying principle” which ties together all the various forces at play in nature. They’re looking in the wrong place. It’s not to be found in some impersonal force, but in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Godhead.
“also He made”. There is no English word which adequately shows the meaning of the word translated “made”: make, produce, build, bring about, operate, put in order, etc. We get our word “poem” from that word. Perhaps it tells us that the events and happenings of the world aren’t just some random accident, but are written with intelligence and purpose, a purpose that will ultimately bring glory to the God Who created it.
“the ages”, not just this tiny planet, nor even the vast, unimaginable reaches of the physical universe, but the much more overwhelming thought of all those times and ages and eons through which God’s “eternal purpose” is moving and unfolding, unhasting and unceasing, in the boundless life He had called into being.
We close with three words.
Psalm 17:14, 15 refers to men of the world, who have their portion in this life. Too many professing Christians are like these men, satisfied with the meager provisions of this world and apparently seeking nothing more. We should be like David in v. 15, who said that he would be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. That is, as Paul put it, sinless and glorified.
Cf. Romans 8:28-30. Perhaps you are reading this and feel crushed by the moment, whatever that moment may be. I remember one time opening my Bible and finding a piece of paper in it on which I had written something to the effect that I wondered if things would ever get better. I remembered writing the note and even something of the despair I felt at the time, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was that had so discouraged me. That was about 50 years ago.
Or perhaps, like me, you’re dismayed at the current turn of events in our world and see little hope of recovery.
Perhaps the thought that God’s clock ticks in centuries, not in seconds, will help. We need to look beyond the “now,” difficult though that may be, and rejoice that “then” is on the way, cf. 1 John 3:2.
Have you ever considered Romans 8? In vs. 17-27, Paul wrote of “infirmity.” This is trouble on the inside. In vs. 31-36, he wrote of “injury,” that is, trouble on the outside. We may suffer greatly. People may hate us, even kill us. But in vs. 37-39, Paul gathers everything together, and triumphantly declares that nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G, can separate us from the love, care and plan of God, even to the point of our being slaughtered like sheep. There are Christians right now to whom this last is reality. It may become a reality in this country.
Whose word are we living by, God’s or this world’s? Do we bring our steps to the Lord and say, “Here, Lord. You order them,” Psalm 37:23? Or have we got all our goals set and all the steps by which those goals will be reached? Are our lives full of our plans, or are they blank slates, upon which God may write as He will? Are we willing, like Abraham, to go forth with God, content to let Him guide the way, Hebrews 11:8? Certainly, we have responsibilities with families, jobs, etc., but are we fulfilling those responsibilities by the wisdom of this world, or by the Word of God?