The View from Inspiration PointDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
In more than a thousand reflections, I have never before printed such a large portion of the biblical text. Usually, as you know, I focus on one or perhaps two verses. But, today, I want to comment on the entire passage from verse 3 through verse 14 of the first chapter of Ephesians. Moreover, I'm hoping that you will read all 12 verses, trying to grasp the extraordinary image they place before you.
In actuality, I'm highlighting only one sentence today. In our English translation (NIV), Ephesians 1:3-14 includes seven separate sentences. In the Greek original, however, it is one long sentence, comprising 202 words. (This kind of writing is dangerous. Don't try it at home.) To my knowledge, this is the longest sentence in the Bible.
Why, in heaven's name, would Paul write such a long sentence? He was a careful communicator who wasn't just running off at the mouth. So what was his point in saying so much and as we'll see, in such an exalted, worshipful style?
My sense is that Paul was trying to paint a huge, compelling verbal picture of God's saving work and our role in it. He wanted to thrill us with the majesty, breadth, and brilliance of God's plan. Paul intended, not just to inform us, but to draw us into worship, sharing with him in amazed praise. (Notice that verse 3 begins with praise while verse 14 ends with praise.)
Coming upon Ephesians 1:3-14 is rather like entering Yosemite National Park through the Wawona Tunnel. After driving for 4230 feet through solid rock, you emerge at Inspiration Point, from which your eyes feast upon a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley. To your left is the majestic, 3,000-foot face of El Capitan; to your right, Bridalveil Falls, cascading 617 feet down the valley wall. In the center of your view, framed by the valley's sheer cliffs, lies Half Dome, a glacier-sliced rock face rising 4,737 feet above the valley floor. Words fail to describe the sublime grandeur of this scene. The only way you can really appreciate it is to sit and look...and look...and look.
So it is with Ephesians 1:3-14. Let me encourage you to read this passage and sit with it. Drink in the wonder of God's plan from Paul's Inspiration Point. Don't worry about figuring out the details. There'll be time for this. Today, let the grandeur of this passage expand your mind as you consider afresh the glory and greatness of God and his salvation through Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What impresses you when you read Ephesians 1:3-14? Do any words or themes stand out to you? What impression is Paul trying to make in this passage?
PRAYER: O God, I will never be able to fully comprehend the wonder of your grace, the brilliance of your plan of salvation. Yet, I thank you for this stirring and stretching picture in the first chapter of Ephesians. Help me to open my mind and heart to you. May I see, as never before, the manifestation of your glory, the expression of your love. And may I begin to live in this picture, seeing my life as part of your amazing plan.
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, O God. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: I have a few photos of Yosemite available on my blog, including a shot of the valley from Inspiration Point.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.