We hope you are enjoying our online Bible study on the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:4-5 (ESV)
4 even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5 He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will,
As humans, our nature is to skip things, I wanted to skip verse four and go right to verse five. I’m an adopted parent, and more than ever we are passionate not only about adoption, but how God adopted us all in Him. However you can’t skip the process, it’s the process that helps you appreciate the fulfillment of the promise.
My wife and I waited ten years to have our son, but there was something we didn’t realize about those ten years until after he was born. Waiting isn’t wasted time, nor is it just about getting you willing to wait. It’s not even only about teaching you to wait.
Waiting is sowing, waiting is building, and waiting is an anchor. As an example, when you become a parent, there are hard days, some with little sleep. You deal with the unexpected, but you deal with it all with love and appreciation. You love your child dearly, but you also appreciate even the worst moments, because you remember the moments without them.
Ashley and I remember the tears longing to hold our son. We remember the pain of the quietness. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect, far from it. It doesn’t mean that sometimes a four year old’s shouting at invisible villains isn’t distracting, but it does mean we wouldn’t trade one moment of this precious adventure for anything.
God chose us all, He didn’t plan for us to sin, but like a good parent, He was not going to make robots. Again like a good parent, He had a plan B. If man made the wrong choice, He would rescue them, but He would do through the vehicle of time. This wasn’t too make man sit in time out, God doesn’t need time to correct, He took time to have mercy.
Verse four is about so much, but part of it is that the time between Eve’s promise and Emmanuel God With Us was preparing the field. Each moment of Abraham’s life and so many others wasn’t just about them. It was about those who would follow on this journey, and need to experience what happens in the waiting.
As our Pastor, Pastor Denny Livingston said so beautifully recently, in the waiting David killed a bear and a lion to help to prepare him to face Goliath. It wasn’t the preparation of physical strength, but of understanding God’s faithfulness, His protection for His people, knowing that the battle was God’s, not David’s.
David knew if it’s God’s battle, He wasn’t called to defeat Goliath, David was only called to resist Goliath. David resisted by showing Goliath someone will stand against you, but God will fight you. We must remember this in our spiritual battles. God calls us to stand against the enemy, not to gain the victory. The battle is not ours, it’s The Lord’s.
Waiting feels horrible while you are waiting, many times because we don’t understand that waiting is active, not passive. While we should be working while waiting, I’m not referring in this case to what we are doing, but what He is doing. The best way I know to describe it is with our own situation.
Before we were able to adopt our son, in the middle of surgeries and poly cystic ovarian syndrome, we were foster parents for six months for our nieces. My wife’s brother and sister in law were fighting some things and we were there to watch their kids until things straightened somewhat.
We didn’t just learn how to take care of babies, we didn’t just learn how to let go and accept God’s Will. I’ve written about that part previously, but God was building a storehouse of experiences, memories, and understanding inside us. Storehouses that we would pull from often as Nick’s parents, in our testimonies, and in ministering to others.
None of these things were what we did, all of them were what He was doing in us. You can’t skip verse four to get to verse five. If you don’t experience four, you’ll never get to five. Four is about He chose us. Five is about God’s determination.
God purposed to rescue us, and would let nothing stop Him. The flood didn’t change His plans, the enemy’s kingdom building attempts didn’t affect God’s position or His decision. Abram’s impatience, Isaac’s shortsightedness, and Jacob’s failings couldn’t alter God’s plan.
We can refuse to be a part of His mercy, but we will never stop His mercy! As another verse says it so well, why would we neglect so great a Salvation? We have to remember, if He’s determined to rescue man, He will rescue us in our trial when we call on Him.
2 Samuel 15:18-22 (ESV)
18 And all his servants passed by him, and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the six hundred Gittites who had followed him from Gath, passed on before the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home.
20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.”
21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.”
22 And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him.
The theme of adoption runs throughout Scripture. God adopted Abraham to follow Him, Jacob to trust Him, Moses to represent Him, and Israel to be His people. A harlot named Rahab became an Israelite, and the Mother of Boaz. A Moabite named Ruth became an Israelite and the Great Grandmother of David.
There’s another adopted individual that we don’t talk about much, his name was Ittai. He has fascinated me since I was a young man, partially because we know so little about him. We know he was a warrior, a follower of David, a leader, and that he was a citizen of Gath.
One scholar says his name means With God, another says it means With Me. Either way fits, because God looked at all of us and basically said He went through Calvary so humanity could be “With Me”. With God, that’s what Salvation is about, relationship.
2 Peter 1:8 (KJV)
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I have never seen a soul fall who’s number one desire was to be “With God”. I have seen them conquer adversity, sickness, lethargy, rejection, mistakes, sins, failures, and successes to be “With God”. I can see Bishop David Rowell in my mind singing, “I’ll let nothing separate me from His Love.”
We don’t know much about Ittai’s early life. We don’t know when he chose to follow David and Israel, but we know he did choose. At some point he realized that God and The Man Of God were more important than his traditions, heritage, and family history. We don’t know how his life began, but we know he made his life count.
This Philistine became one of the leaders, not only of the Philistine guards of David, but of the entire Israeli army. This man who’s name meant either With Me or With God was with both God and The Man Of God. David’s name by the way means beloved. When you choose to follow God, you stand both with Him and His Church.
To choose God is to choose His people, it’s not an either or situation. When you are adopted into God’s family, you are part of His family, and the Church is the Bride of Christ. One commentator supposes that it’s possible that Ittai died fighting for Israel. Like Abraham, this Philistine saw a city Who’s foundations were much greater than Gath.
As for Gath, scholars tell us it means the wine press. Far greater men than me have written about the wine press, but I will mention it’s where David found both Goliath, and Ittai. Scholars also say that the Gittith mentioned in the headings of Psalm eight, eighty-one, and eighty-four is a musical instrument from Gath.
They believe it to be one brought back by David, possibly from the time he spent with Achish. David had more than a passing history with this particular city of the Philistines. It’s fascinating but not accidental that The Lord so connected Gath with David’s life.
1 Chronicles 18:17 (KJV)
17 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and the sons of David were chief about the king.
Ephesians 2:12 (KJV)
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
The Cherethites and the Pelethites, David’s body guards, were most likely Philistine mercenaries loyal to David. These men’s children and descendants became part of Israel all because of David. David means beloved, and how many of us foreigners and strangers became part of God’s kingdom because of The Son Of David?
I’m getting ahead of myself but I can’t help but remind you of Epehsians 2:12 at this point. However this also leads us back to chapter one and to verse five. It was The Beloved God of the universe Who predestined that there would be a Church, adopted by Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will.
There is literally so much in this verse that it could be a book in and of itself. First let us deal with the word predestined. There are those who teach a doctrine of predestination which I won’t outline here. While not wishing to offend anyone, I won’t do this because I don’t believe that is what He was saying.
Revelation 22:17 (KJV)
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Hebrews 7:25 (KJV)
25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
Hebrews 10:38-39 (KJV)
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
What I will do is share what I have been both taught and believe concerning this word. Simply spoken, I believe that God determined there would be a Church, and He gave every individual the opportunity to choose whether they are a part of it, but there will be a Church.
If we accept Him, and we place our trust in Him, He will enable us to endure unto the end. If we turn our back, then it’s our choice, but if we hold on to Him, hell itself could not separate us from His love.
If it wasn’t possible to leave the writer of Hebrews whom I believe to be Paul, also the writer of Ephesians, wouldn’t have mentioned it. However he did say we don’t have to leave or to fail if we hold on to Jesus. This is my view on predestination, and while I do not claim to be a scholar, I do believe I have the book to back me up.