In uncertain times it’s nice to have some reassurance and we have loads of it in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. For instance, he says, “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4) and throughout the chapter reminds us that God does all things according to his purpose which he had from the beginning. Everything is going according to God’s plan and we have the blessing of “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you” (v.18) – there is light at the end of the tunnel and God has shown us what that is. There are such amazing things ahead of us if we cling onto the promises God made.
To emphasize the certainty of our hope Paul says a couple of things that at first seem to be contradictory. In verse 7 he says, “we have redemption” but then in verse 14 he speaks of redemption in the future – “until the redemption” (NKJV). Then he says in verse 11 “we have obtained an inheritance” but in verse 14 again that it’s future. We have “the guarantee of our inheritance” meaning it’s not something we yet possess. Paul says a similar thing in Romans 8, first telling us we have “received the spirit of adoption” (v.15) before saying we are “eagerly awaiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (v.23). What these verses are telling us is the absolute assurance of our hope in Christ. We can forsake that hope if we want to, but God won’t forsake us. He will see us through to the end; it’s as good as done if we want it enough to follow Christ.
Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:13-14 echo an occasion in the Old Testament where this principle is seen in the experiences of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 32 we find Jeremiah in a three-fold dungeon. At that time “the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem” (v.2) and Jeremiah was “shut up in the court of the guard”. Not only that but by this time he was an old man and would not live much longer. However, despite all these things, a family relative came to Jeremiah in prison and asked him to “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours” (v.8). In Ephesians Paul speaks of “the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (NKJV). What is the “guarantee”? The word means a down-payment, and in Jeremiah that’s exactly what Jeremiah paid – “seventeen shekels of silver” (v.9). He then “sealed” (v.10) the deed of purchase, and Paul says we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”, or better “sealed with the holy spirit of promise” (NKJV). The point of the situation Jeremiah went though was not to obtain the parcel of land there and then. The city would soon be taken by the Babylonians, he would leave Jerusalem, and not long after he would die. There was no point in him having possession of the field, but he bought it, his inheritance, because the right of possession was his by a promise that lasted beyond his lifetime. The lesson of Jeremiah paying the down-payment was the surety of God’s promise – “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land” (v.15).
For us, as Paul says, the down-payment, or guarantee of our inheritance in the Kingdom of God, has been paid for us. God’s promise is our assurance that we will be finally redeemed when our Lord returns. The dungeon we find ourselves in right now is going to be a thing of the past and we have a glorious future ahead of us. Now is not the time to focus on the four walls around us but to look with the eye of faith to that time when we will all be together in Jerusalem.
Simi Hills, CA