How came the jurisdiction of darkness out of which the saints are said to be rescued (Col. 1:13)? What relation has that darkness to the physical darkness we know so well as part of the economy around us? Truly flesh and blood have connection with the latter darkness, and life is geared thereto. Yet there is a darkness directed and controlled by world mights other than human (Eph. 6:12). This darkness seeks to modulate the intellectual pursuits of humanity. It influences the attitude to spiritual matters, and it promotes the prevailing philosophies.
These world-mights are among the ranks of the celestial sovereignties and authorities. Such understanding gives perspective to our question, showing the jurisdiction of darkness to be connected with the Adversary. That jurisdiction engaged in the apprehending of the Lord, and concerning this He told the chief priests and officers of the sanctuary (Lu.22:53), thus intimating to them that they were not fulfilling their office as ministers of light. God's creation would not have had the feature of night and day except for the entry of sin, and, with it, darkness at the disruption prior to placing humanity on earth. The physical becomes a parable of spiritual matters.
It would seem that not all celestials are under the dominance of the Adversary. There are celestials who give their allegiance to God, and who desire to know Him and are interested in His ways. Some celestials are referred to as "chosen messengers" (1 Tim. 5:21). Again, it is said of the Lord; Who is at God's right hand, being gone into heaven, messengers and authorities and powers being subjected to Him (1 Pet. 3:22). Other celestials, also designated messengers, sovereignties and powers, would, were it possible, separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:38,39). From these very brief references, we perceive the reality and the complexity around God's creatures which exist outside the terrestrial. They have an association with those matters which God operates amongst humans.
In this we are tracing the threads which leads to that future administration when all will be headed up in the Christ.
When we become aware that such a situation exists among the celestials, we are ready to grasp more adequately the import of the statements and references to the celestials which occur in the epistles, especially those of Paul's ministry from prison. We discern a little reason as to the need for a ministry among the celestials which shall bear for them some similar value comparable to that of the evangel of God heralded amongst humans. In fact, it is a ministry to be carried out among the celestials by our Lord through those chosen and called out of humanity in this administration.
Even now, through the ecclesia, the celestials are coming to know the multifarious wisdom of God. This tells us that the wisdom and the grace dispensed in the present administration is of vast interest to some of the celestials. Moreover, we are also informed that their learning of this grace and wisdom accords with the purpose of the eons (Eph.3:10,11). Are we not too apt to think of humans alone as having an interest in the purpose of the eons? Is it not intimated to us that the celestials, in some sense, need similar spiritual values and lessons as ourselves? They still have to apprehend aspects of the glory of God and His Son other than those of which they have been aware hitherto. They, it seems, are becoming aware of the love of God and the capacity of its operations in His Son which have moved forward to the eon of the eons. Then will we be very near to the supreme display and achievement of God's love. This the celestials need to learn more about, even as do humans.
The former administration, related to the law given to Israel, had a divine service which was an example and shadow of the divine service of the celestials (Heb.8:5. 9:23). May we ask, not only why the law should have such a divine service, but also as to the reason for such a divine service amongst the celestials? Surely, in this, there is a hint as to the needs which exist not only around the jurisdiction of darkness, but also for that section of the celestials who are not allied to the Adversary. That jurisdiction is not exclusive to the earth, but it embraces a control, to some degree, among the celestials (Col. 1:12, 13). In fact, the celestials were in the darkness prior to humans, and, by that instituted at Sinai, a section of the earth's population came to be instructed concerning the mercy of Ieue and the propitiatory shelter His divine service afforded. Did not this understanding already exist among the celestials? Those who misunderŽstood Paul's ministry and teaching were, in reality, wishing to continue under the ritual of messengers (Col. 2:18). Not only was this a ritual given through messengers, but it seems to represent a divine service amongst the celestials.
Peter's evangel to the circumcision, that stage in which he dispensed his shepherd commission to the chosen expatriates, into this messengers yearned to peer (1 Pet. 1:12). Evidently it was a grace of higher value than they knew. Certainly Peter proclaimed matters which were related to the ministry of Christ (Heb. 8:6). That ministry of Christ was more excellent than that of Moses and the Levitical order attached thereto. It had a better covenant and was instituted upon better promises. This also would seem to be an advance upon that which the celestials knew.
The secret of devoutness now heralded (1 Tim. 3:16), is a matter flowing out of the evangel of the present administration, and of it we are told that it has been seen by messengers. Is not this again informing us of the interest of the celestials in those matters which are for heralding today, and the calling out of the ecclesia (Eph. 3:10)? This interest seems to indicate a value coming to themselves. Though they may readily approve and rejoice in the glories of God, yet in the grace shown to the ecclesia, they are seeing something of the spiritual values still available for them.
This interest of messengers, and their learning as to the present grace, must not be confused with that service for which some ministering spirits are commissioned. That was on behalf of those of Israel who were to enjoy the allotment of salvation. (Heb. 1:14. Matt. 18:10. Lu. 12:8. 15:16.). Manifestly these spirits are those who are partners of God's Son (Heb. 1:9), and are commissioned for service to the saints of Israel (Heb. 1:13). Doubtless these messengers had a connection or relationship to the law-mandate given through messengers (Acts 7:53) which Israel did not keep.
As we mature the details of the foregoing matters, the reference to messengers in 1 Co. 11:10 tends to take more value than we have perhaps hitherto realized. The woman is to admit, by her practices around her own literal head, the authority exercised over her by the man. In this she also honors the fact that man is inherently the image and glory of God.
The man's head figures Christ's headship of him (1 Cor. 11:3). This fact of headship must not be hidden when a man prays. To cover the head of man on such occasions disgraces Him Who is man's Head. Equally, yet from a contrary aspect, if a woman prays with uncovered head, then it is that, by such a feature, she is denying that man is her head, and in this way disgrace is reflected upon Christ as the Head of man. The carrying out of this practice is a wise matter. It is not a mere convenience without any value, but it exhibits a significant spiritual truth around man and Christ, as well as showing the fact of Christ's universal headship to messengers and celestials. The repudiation of lordship, or the calumniating of glories is a corrupting matter, and it needs to be much impressed upon the celestials, as also to the terrestrials (2 P. 2:11). Even such as Michael knew its necessity and honored it (Jude 9). Subjection to the Supreme is the ultimate feature for the creation, so that these references are not casual or incidental. The eons unfold that subjection will be reached through love, and it will continue in love.
Behind the foregoing thoughts lies the reason and the need for the apostle's prayer in regard to his ministry from prison, He had reached that stage when darkness would end his heralding, and it would prevent it moving forward to announce any values to the celestials therefrom. Gradually Paul's ministry had been unfolding that there is intimate connection between every kindred in the heavens and on earth.
In doing this, the values lying within and around the secret of Christ have been, not only widened as to scope, but also has it been made known that the love and righteousness and the grace of God are matters of equal concern to the celestials.
Such revealing really supplies one reason for the present administration. Just as Israel are needed on the earth for divine service, so is the ecclesia which is His body for similar divine service amongst the celestials. At one point revelation among the celestials was in advance of that to those on earth, yet, with Paul's ministry, this position became reversed. But it accords with God's eonian purpose that the celstials are to learn the multifarious character of His wisdom. And, learning that God's wisdom is so various that when Israel fails, He can still reach the other nations, and with greater values too, they cannot but come to know there is intimacy and glory in His love more than sufficient to reach an inclusion of themselves in that love which will conclude His vast purpose to embrace all.