“”that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ is most often associated with His earthly mission as the sinless Savior, who died a substitutionary death for sinners on the cross and was resurrected to give eternal life for all who believe in Him. Jesus truly came to redeem mankind from sin and death, but that wasn’t His only mission. Jesus most definitely fulfilled His earthy mission as the suffering servant and Son of Man, but He also has a heavenly mission as the One and Only Son of God, having been exalted “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.” [Ephesians 1:21]
I am speaking of the cosmic mission of Jesus Christ.
Most believers are keenly aware of our great adversary, the devil, who is the prince of darkness and god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4]. But sometimes we forget that satan doesn’t work alone. The Scriptures describe a host of heavenly beings that are in fierce opposition to God and His people. This invisible army of evil is relentlessly working in the unseen realm to subvert God’s purposes and destroy God’s kingdom. These are what the Bible calls the rulers, authorities, spiritual forces of evil, and cosmic powers over this present darkness. Although it is hard to say for certain, the Bible indicates that the heavenly host numbers at least in the millions, possibly billions. Knowing that a significant number of these spiritual beings have rebelled and joined forces with the devil, it is a substantial force to reckoned with.
One way to understand this cosmic concept is to mirror the visible, earthly realm with the invisible, heavenly realm. In the same way that there always have been forces of good and evil at war on earth, working through kings and their armies, there also are cosmic rulers and armies warring in the heavens. This cosmic war is consequential with real wins and losses [see Daniel 10:13-14]. And just as the LORD has allowed human history to play out in real time, He also has chosen to allow this heavenly conflict to transpire according to His will.
The Bible indicates that behind every earthly kingdom is a principality or power, a cosmic ruler, who is “pulling the strings” and wielding influence for the demonic forces of darkness. Satan and his legion have been manipulating and masterminding the kings of the earth since the dawn of creation. Whether Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, or any of the kingdoms in our day, we must understand world governments as being under the sway of these evil cosmic powers.
When the LORD dispersed the original nations at the tower of Babel as an act of His divine judgment, He turned them over to these cosmic rulers and authorities [Deuteronomy 32:8-9]. Satan may be the god of this world, but there are many other powerful rulers working with him. After Babel, the nations immediately began to serve and worship these other gods through every kind of abominable practice, such as sorcery, divination, astrology, necromancy, blood sacrifice, witchcraft, and gross sexual immorality. The earth had become the domain of darkness.
But God, working in the midst of this demonic domain, chose a nation for Himself — Israel — which is precisely why the LORD commanded His people Israel to worship no other gods before Him, for He alone is the One True God — the God of gods. Israel would become the living example of God’s superiority over the evil rulers of the world, and ultimately the King of kings and Lord of lords would come from this seemingly insignificant nation [Romans 9:4-5]. Yeshua, as the promised Messiah, would come to conquer the cosmic forces of evil and bring both heaven and earth under His rule and authority once and for all. The cosmic mission of Jesus is equally as significant as His earthly mission and must not be forgotten!
By becoming a man, Jesus is redeeming a people for Himself out of every nation on earth. In effect, the LORD is reclaiming the nations that were lost at Babel. But also by being God, Jesus has triumphed over all the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places and one day will return to establish His eternal kingdom on earth. Once we understand the cosmic mission of Jesus, many familiar passages in the Bible take on an entirely new meaning. Consider the language used in the essential creeds of the faith.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:38-39]
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Although there is so much more to be said about the cosmic mission of Jesus, hopefully these observations will help establish a grander perspective and greater appreciation for the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. For His is the kingdom and the power and glory forever. Amen.
For more insight into this topic, consider watching this 6 minute video from the creators at the Bible Project.