There is an interesting phrase that pops up 10 times in the New Testament that is very insightful. It is the phrase “foundation of the world.” Breaking it down, the word for foundation essentially means “the beginning” or the starting point, and the word for world is the Greek word kosmos. In many senses this word has a broader meaning than simply “world.” It reaches beyond that to include the whole universe and all that exists. So this phrase is literally talking about the very beginning of all that exists (outside of God, of course, who has always existed).
In particular, whenever this phrase is used in the New Testament, there is always one of two words that precede it. Those words are “from/since” or “before.” Thus, either something has been happening “from/since” the foundation of the universe, or something happened “before” the foundation of the universe.
There are two verses, in particular, that draw this contrast which are very intriguing to me. The first one is found in Ephesians 1:4, where Paul informs us that God “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the kosmos.” This idea, in and of itself, is quite remarkable. Before anything else existed in the universe—before time existed, angels existed, planets existed—God had us in mind and He chose us to be His children. In fact, Paul goes on to say in the next verse that He predestined us to be “adopted” into His family.
To allow our minds to dwell upon this concept alone is quite overwhelming. Why would there be any room to doubt God’s love and mercy for us if, even before time and space existed, God chose us and made a decision that we would be in His family? All anxiety, fear, or discontentment would subside if we allowed Christ to impress upon our minds this reality.
Of course, the anxiety creeps up when we begin to realize our sinfulness and the fact that, from the very beginning, this human race has tried to “divorce” itself from God. After all, Adam and Eve messed up and we continue to do so on a daily basis. So even if God did make a decision to choose us before the universe existed, we have forfeited that. Or so we get fooled into thinking.
But that’s where our other text comes into play. It is in Revelation 13:8 that we are told that Jesus is the “Lamb [who was] slain from the foundation of the kosmos.” In other words, as soon as sin entered the universe—as soon as creatures rebelled—at that very instant Christ died in our place. He took upon Himself the penalty that we deserved. He took on the wages of sin.
And thus, there is no reason why anyone should not enjoy the full benefits of God choosing him or her before the foundation of the universe. Since day one, Christ has been the sacrifice for all of us.
So we need not fear. Not only did Christ choose us before this universe existed, but when we tried (and continue to try) to divorce ourselves from Him, He took our place and bore the penalty that we deserved. And He invites us to respond to that wonderful reality today.
Did You Know?
Today is October 22, 2009. This date has special significance for millions of Christians around the world. One hundred and sixty-five years ago, to the very day, thousands upon thousands of Christians gathered together in fields, on rooftops, on hillsides, eagerly awaiting Christ’s return. Most of those were in this part of the country—New England and New York.
Of course, Christ did not come and October 23 (not October 22) became known as the “Great Disappointment.” And it was out of that “Great Disappointment” that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was borne. Since then, 165 years later, we still eagerly await the return of Christ. We have come to realize that there is no way to know the day or the hour of Christ’s return, but we still do recognize it as being “soon.”
And the question is: are we still eager about His return? More significantly, do we realize that God is eager to return? Do we understand that, in all likelihood, every subsequent October 23 has been a “Great Disappointment” to God as He realizes that His people have allowed another year to go by without enjoying full “at-one-ment” with Him?