Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
In early July, the daily reflection was entitled “The View from Inspiration Point.” I used the analogy of viewing Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point to encourage us to take in the panorama of Ephesians 1:3-14. I noted that this 202-word passage was, in the Greek original, one long sentence. Then, in “Paul’s Eulogy,” I explained that this whole passage is a prayer of praise to God, beginning with the call to praise in verse 3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (As you may recall, the Greek word translated here as “praise,” eulogetos, is related to our word “eulogy.”)
Today, we take in the view of Yosemite Valley from Half Dome. If you’ve been to Yosemite, you know what I mean. If not, I should explain that as you gaze upon the valley from Inspiration Point, you see the iconic face of Half Dome at the far end of the valley. If you journey to that part of the valley and make the 16-mile hike from the valley floor to the top of Half Dome (including an elevation gain of 4,800 feet), you can look back on Yosemite Valley, with Inspiration Point in the far distance. It’s the same view that you had at the beginning, only in reverse.
So, today, after three months and dozens of reflections, we have come to the end of this 202-word prayer of praise to God and are taking a moment to look at it in reverse. Not surprisingly, this passage ends with the phrase: “to the praise of his glory” (1:14). We began this passage with praise. Fittingly, we end with praise.
Ephesians 1:3-14, as it calls us to praise God, also reminds us about the essence of worshipful praise. It is not something we produce by ourselves, but is a response to God, to his gracious and glorious works that reveal his gracious and glorious nature. We bless God because he has blessed us beyond measure, most of all through the gift of Jesus Christ, our redeemer and the one through whom God is bringing unity to all things. We praise God because he has chosen us, not only to be saved from sin and death, but also so that we might exist to the praise of his glory.
The more we reflect on what God has done and who he is, the more we will be caught up in praise. We may very well find that, like Paul, we have to stack words upon words to express the wonder of God. Yet, even then, our words fall short. We realize that praise isn’t just a matter of speaking and singing. Rather, it is a matter of being and living.
P.S. You can see the view of Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point and from Half Dome in my collection of Yosemite photos.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you read slowly through Ephesians 1:3-14, do you sense praise stirring in your heart? What elements of this passage stand out to you as reasons to praise God?
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near; Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen How thy desires e’er have been Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee; Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew What the Almighty can do, If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him. Let the Amen Sound from His people again, Gladly for aye we adore Him. Amen.