Creation Summed Up in Christ
“[The angel] swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as He announced to His servants the prophets.”
– Revelation 10:6-7
This is an epic moment…this monumental angel has one foot on the earth, one on the sea, and his hand raised into heaven – that is to say, in himself he unites the three spheres of creation – and he then swears by God Almighty that the fulfillment of ALL God’s purposes, the mystery of God, will most certainly be fulfilled. Awesome.
I’m not sure exactly how the events of Revelation will pan out chronologically, but this angel’s oath is a vivid form of assurance that God’s purposes will most certainly be realized. The mystery of God – the once-hidden-now-revealed plan of the all-wise, all-sovereign, all-good God – is going to be accomplished on this earth. No demonic assault, no apostasy, no rebellion, no mass of humanity can influence the surety of this outcome in the slightest…..God’s purpose is like a freight locomotive barreling down the tracks full strength, and every possible form of opposition – when functioning at its full capacity – is like a tuft of dandelion seed floating in the train’s path.
The “Mystery” Exposited
So what is this mystery? What is this invincible purpose of God? We see some very similar language in Ephesians 1:9-10, where Paul says that God has made 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.”
Here we see the use of “mystery” as well as the concept of God accomplishing His purpose in His time, and we also see the inclusion of heaven and earth (the sea is left out, but I think in this context it is not a stretch to include “sea” as part of those things “on earth”, since “earth” seems to be used more with the idea of “planet” or “earthly sphere”, rather than “land”). These similarities give me warrant – I believe – to see here the exposition of what the angel may very well mean when he talks about “the mystery of God”.
And so what is the mystery? It is the uniting of ALL THINGS in the created realm in Christ. An interesting note here is that the word for “unite” is used only one other time by Paul and that is in Romans 13:9:
“For the commandments…are summed up in this word: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
So, in a similar way to how the commandments are all “summed up” by the command to love, so to all of reality is “summed up” in Christ. If, then, we are to know what it means for creation to be “summed up” in Christ, let us consider briefly what it means for the commands to be “summed up” in love.
The Commands Summed Up in Love
In Romans 13:8-10, Paul explains that, because love “does no wrong” to a neighbor, it is therefore the fulfillment of the Law. In other words, all the commands in the Old Covenant were essentially different specific applications of “love.” The heart, the essence, the substance of every command is a selfless love for others that ultimately flows from love for God Himself (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). So how are the commands “summed up” in love? Because the “good” that is required and borne witness to in every command is love itself. If we love (as God defines it) we have fulfilled the Law.
Now, how does this help us understand what it means for creation to be “summed up” in Christ? Well, just as all the “good” beneath all the commandments and the thing to which they all point is “love,” so too the “good” beneath the created order and the “thing” it all points to is Christ.
Creation Summed Up in Christ
So, the mystery of God is that Jesus Christ – for whom all things exist – will be manifestly and experientially revealed as the single unifying factor, the one great overarching truth, to which ALL of Creation is pointing and in whom ALL of Creation finds its fulfillment.
The full moon, the morning sun, the weaving spider and gliding heron, the mammoth sea beasts and minuscule microbes, the yawning depths of heaven and the towering heights of earth, music that brings tears, stories that stir hearts, feasting that unites friends, and laughter that gives way to weeping – ALL of these “creaturly” experiences pulse with beauty that finds its full expression in the person of God the Son….All of these sing His name, call to us with His voice, and are designed in such a way that – when we see the Son – we will say, “so it was you all along? I was hearing you, Lord, when I wept at that song…I was hearing you when I laughed for joy at the rainbow, I was hearing you when I stood and watched the clouds glide across the quite face of the moon, it was always you…..” So it will be that the redeemed will spend an eternity exploring the intricacies of the new creation and reveling in how, this too is – and always was – summed up in Christ…
Glory to our great God….our God who has been whispering Himself to us all our lives through what has been created so that, when we see His face, nostalgia and newness, memory and wonder, old experiences and new joy will explode across our souls and thrill our hearts and minds as we never thought possible….and unlike our experiences in this age, this Joy will not remain just out of grasp. As C.S. Lewis said, “the door at which we have been knocking all our lives will finally be opened, and we will be invited in” (see also Matthew 25:21). Glory to our all wise, Triune Creator!
Ah, Lord – may we might be kept faithful until that day!