Let me quote one of my favorite passages. This will get us started with what I want to talk about. "In times past by many separate revelations and in different ways God has spoken to our fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, and through Whom He arranged the ages of time." (Hebrews 1:1-2)
According to my copy of the Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, God spoke "in many portions and in many ways". This is one of the things that has always impressed me about the Scriptures. When you read the revelations of the prophets in the Old Testament, recognize the different times and circumstances involved, realize the unique experiences and backgrounds they had, you have to be amazed by the consistency and accuracy of the message they gave concerning the coming of the Christ and future events. As Isaiah 28:10 tells us, this revelation was given a little here and a little there over time to different men. They didn’t live at the same time. They didn’t know one another. They had little in common, except one important thing – the Holy Spirit (look at Exodus 31:1-3 and Isaiah 63:10-14 for examples).
Then the writer of Hebrews (I believe it was Paul) jumps forward in time and begins to talk about the Son. In the reference to the "last days", eschatos is used to describe that which concludes anything. We are living in the last age or period of time in which His plan for the ages comes to a close.
He also tells us the Son has been appointed "heir" of all things. This is kleronomos, from the combination of kleros, lot or portion, and nemos, to hold or have authority over, and is used to signify the fact that the Son has been given authority over "all things" (for another example look at John 3:35).
It is this authority that gives the Son the ability to do what is next, "through Whom He planned the ages of time". I know, if you check out your Bible, depending on what translation you’re reading, it probably doesn’t say that. The KJV says, "by whom also he made the worlds". The NIV says, "and through whom he made the universe". The problem with those translations is simply that they’re misleading. The word translated "worlds" and "universe" is the Greek aion, a word used to denote an age or period of time from which we get the English word aeon.
Notice the phrases from these two translations, "he made the worlds" and "he made the universe". The word translated "made" is poieo, and means, "to endow, to prepare or furnish". And, when you look at the lexicons explaining this word, they will tell you it is used to emphasize the end or result of the action. In other words, the ages of time were prepared or furnished to accomplish something specific – they have a purpose. Keep that in mind.
We see much the same thing in Hebrews 11:1-3. "Now real faith is being confident of what we hope for and what we have not yet seen. It was by this (faith) that men in times past were commended. And it is by this same faith that we understand that the ages of time were arranged by the word of God, so that what we now see is not a result of what is visible." Again, if you check your KJV or NIV, what I have above as "ages of time" is "worlds" or "universe". But the same Greek word, aion, is found in the text.
Also, in my translation above you see that the ages of time were "arranged" by the word of God. The KJV has "framed" and the NIV says, "formed". The word is katartizo and means, to adjust, equip or arrange in order. Whichever meaning you choose to apply to this word, it comes out essentially the same. The Son designed the ages of time with a purpose in mind.
So, what are we looking at here? When you consider what these two references are saying, there is one conclusion: the Son planned or arranged the ages of time to achieve a certain result. As we watch history unfold, we are merely witness to what the Son had already planned. And, if there are any doubts about this, one has only to study the Scriptures to verify it.
At the end of my translation of Hebrews 11:3 above, you see, "so what we now see is not a result of what is visible". I suppose most everyone has heard that "history" is actually "His story". That is literally true. I have often said that we can be confident God will do what He has promised in the future, because He has been absolutely trustworthy in giving us example after example of His ability to accomplish what He says in the past. The things predicted in the Old Testament unfold with accuracy and clarity in the New. The prophecies concerning Christ, His future birth, the circumstances of His death and the purpose of it (the redemption of sinful man) are revealed over and over in perfect harmony. In the Scriptures He tells us what He is going to do, then as time passes, He does it!
And there are many more things predicted in the Old Testament and in the New that have not yet come about. But they will. And the one thing we can count on is that they will come about not as a result of what is visible to us (that is, what man can do), but as a result of what He has planned and is working out to achieve that certain result. So, while some may say that history is His story, because it is all about Christ; you can also say that it is because He wrote the story.
So, here we are. What result are we talking about? What has the Son planned to accomplish through the ages of time? What is history all about? To this I’ll have to skip over many details (I’m not writing a book here) and just get to the end of the story. We find it in I Corinthians 15:24-28. This is what it says: "After that the end will come, when He delivers over the kingdom to God the Father after abolishing every other rule, authority and power. For He must reign supreme until He has put all His enemies under His feet. And the last enemy to be abolished is death. For He (the Father) has put everything in subjection under His (that is, Christ’s) feet. But when it says, All things are put in subjection to Him, it is clear that He (the Father) is not included, who put everything under Christ. Then when everything is accomplished the Son will subject Himself to the Father Who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all."
Now, let’s break this down. The first thing is "After that the end will come". Here, "end" is telos, the goal, the completion, literally, the termination with reference to time. This passage is talking about the end of time. It is the completion of all that the Son has planned to accomplish through the ages. He has always been, and will always be the One in control of history. And a distinction must be made between time and eternity. When time is over, eternity begins.
Then we see "when He delivers over the kingdom to God the Father". This requires a little more explanation. Let’s look at the big picture. I’ll just give a very abbreviated overview. In short, God in His mercy determined that sinful man must be redeemed and evil eradicated. And, I hope there’s no confusion here, this kingdom will exist eternally on the earth, not in heaven as some suppose. It is the time described by John in Revelation 21:1-7 when God comes to a new earth that has been restored yet again and makes His abode with men, when He wipes away all tears and there’s no more pain, when the affects of the curse have been reversed, when He says "I make all things new" and "it is done". It is the end of time, as we understand it, and the beginning of eternity. It is after the Son has completed everything that He had planned for the ages of time and all has been restored back to the way it was before sin entered the world.
Let’s continue on in I Corinthians 15:24-28. The Son will deliver the kingdom over to the Father "after abolishing every other rule, authority and power. For He must reign supreme until He has put all His enemies under His feet." This is a reference to the 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth, otherwise known as the Millennium, when He returns to the earth to establish this kingdom. One purpose of this time is as Paul suggests, Christ will reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The words "under His feet" are simply an idiom for submission. Isaiah 45:23-24 references this time when "Before Me every knee will bow and every tongue will swear. They will say of Me, In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength. And all who have raged against Him will be put to shame." The word translated "swear" is shava, and means, to pledge allegiance (loyalty). Daniel talks about the day when "all peoples, nations and languages will serve Him" in Daniel 7:13-14.
But, putting down rebellion is only one aspect of the Millennium. In Acts 3:1 Peter refers to this time as "the time for the complete restoration of all that God had spoken through His holy prophets from ages past". The Millennium will be a time when literally hundreds of prophesies concerning the redemption of man, the restoration of Israel and the formation of a new heavens and new earth are fulfilled – all necessary preparations for eternity.
Then we see "And the last enemy to be abolished is death. For He (the Father) has put everything in subjection under His (that is, Christ’s) feet." Again, I refer you to Revelation 21 and verse 4 that says, "death will be no more" and "the former conditions (that is, the curse described in Genesis 3) have passed away".
Now, let’s go back to I Corinthians 15 and look at the last part of the passage. "But when it says, All things are put in subjection to Him, it is clear that He (the Father) is not included, Who put everything under Christ. Then when everything is accomplished the Son will subject Himself to the Father Who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all." The word for "God" in that last phrase is Theos, the word used in the New Testament to indicate the triune God. It is the equivalent to the Old Testament Hebrew Elohim. When everything is restored, they will reign together through all eternity. The phrase "all in all" is literally, "all things to all (people)".
So, what do we have to this point? In short, the Father gave the Son authority over everything. The Son used that authority to plan the ages of time. The purpose of His plan is to redeem sinful man and restore everything back to the way it was before rebellion entered the world. Then, when all is accomplished (when all is again submitted and loyal to God), He will present it back to His Father. And from what we know of scripture and what we see from history, that plan is on-going. God’s plan of redemption for man has been fully revealed and initiated. And His plan to eradicate rebellion has been revealed in scripture, but the completion of it is yet future.
With all that being said, let me make this one observation. I titled this "The Preeminent Son". If you look up "preeminent" in the dictionary, it will say something like, "of the highest rank, outstanding". I’m writing this in preparation of observing Communion.
The whole purpose of this article is to give you this one thought, this one application of truth to give you an even greater appreciation of Who Jesus Christ really is and what He has done for you.
If you have had the patience and fortitude to read the article titled "The Blood of Christ", towards the end in the section on Communion I make this statement: "So, why is Communion so important? Because every time we participate in Communion, the realization of what Christ did for us on the cross should break our hearts and give us a renewed determination to follow Him."
Communion memorializes the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross in fulfillment of His own plan of redemption for man. He chose the time and manner of that sacrifice. Let me say that again. He chose the time and manner of that sacrifice. He fully knew how brutal the Roman soldiers would be. He could look down the corridors of time and see the unspeakable cruelty in the way they beat and punished those accused of wrongdoing. He could foresee the degradation, the public spectacle and the torture in the way they disposed of those who appeared to oppose their authority or security. He understood how zealous the Jews would be of their perverted religion, how they would oppose Him and demand that He be crucified.
And when you read the Gospel accounts, you can see how Jesus manipulated the circumstances and events to accomplish exactly what He had planned. And, He did it in complete fulfillment of the predictions He Himself had made through those prophets mentioned at the beginning of this article. Does it not give you a greater appreciation of the Son of God to know that He arranged the time and awful manner of His own death and was then willing to go through with it out of love for you? He is and will continue to be the preeminent Son.
I’ll close with yet another passage from Hebrews, this is Hebrews 12:1-2. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by a multitude of those who have borne testimony to the truth, let us set aside the false spirituality and personal failings that slow us down so we can run with patient endurance the race set before us. Let’s pay attention and look to Jesus, the Author (the source) and Finisher (bringing it to completion) of our faith (what we know is absolutely true and right). He is the One Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God."