Who [Jesus Christ] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. (RSV )
How to Be Great
What does it mean to be sitting at the right hand of God? The right hand man of a king or any other authority is the person who is in charge of the daily affairs of the kingdom or company. Good examples are Joseph, Daniel, and Mordecai in the O.T. Each of these men became second in command to the king after he had proved himself capable. The king didn’t have to worry because these honest men were not looking out for their own good, but the good of the kingdom. In the same way, Jesus always sought to glorify the Father by doing His will. John 4:34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (NIV)
How does this apply to me? Phil 2:3-7 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (NIV) This is the secret to greatness, putting others first. Jesus sat down at the right hand of God because He put us first. He gave up everything to serve us. Once He accomplished that, He was exalted to the highest position in Heave that can be attained (Eph 1:21-22.) Everything was put under His dominion and control. This doesn’t mean that I will attain to the same position as Jesus if I seek the welfare of others above my own. There is only one place in heaven with that authority and Jesus has it. However, I will have a position of authority in heaven. Rev 1:5b-6 To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV) As I serve as a priest in the kingdom of Jesus, I’ll bring glory and to the Father. Since this is Jesus’ goal, it is mine as well.
Who Are Those Guys?
Who are these angels, authorities, and powers that are subject to Jesus? Angels are pretty easy to identify. Heb 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (NIV) They are clearly being who are the good guys. They do what God wants them to do, every time and without fail.
The authorities and powers are not as easy to identify since they are represented as evil in various places. Eph 6:11-12 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV) In these verses, they are clearly aligned with the devil and his schemes.
Daniel gave us a very brief and mysterious glimpse into this spiritual world. Dan 10:20-21 Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I am through with him, lo, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince. (RSV) In these verses I can see that there are both good and evil powers and principalities. I can imagine that in the spiritual realms, there are beings that exercise some sort of power or control over the leaders and peoples of nations. As this angel (Gabriel) fought against the prince of Persia, I can imagine that he was able to restrain the prince of Persia from eradicating the Jews who were in exile. You can read the book of Esther to see what that struggle looked like on the human level. I can only imagine what it looked like in the heavenly realm.
Elisha could see these mighty battles and prayed to let his servant see what was happening behind the scenes. 2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (NIV) Elisha prayed the physical enemy would be blinded and they were so that he could lead them captive to the king of Israel. I’m positive that the surrounding angelic army caused Elisha’s enemies to be blinded.
So it seems that each nation has an evil prince who seeks to destroy and a holy one, an angel, who seeks to protect. Satan told Jesus that all the kingdoms of the earth belonged to him and Jesus didn’t deny it (Matt 4:8-9.) At this time, Satan is still in control of the nations (Eph 2:2) even though Jesus has been seated as the authority over all. One day Jesus will come back and take full control of the earth. That is when we will reign with him. Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years. (RSV)
In the mean time, when bad things happen I know that my Lord Jesus is in ultimate control. Satan may think he is ruling but I know that he can do no more than Jesus allows (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6.) I can be confident in the following verse. Rom 8:28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. (RSV) Those who are not under Jesus’ authority, who have not submitted to Him, can’t claim this verse. When Jesus comes back, they will find themselves on the wrong side and will not be punished for eternity.
I’m glad that I know I’m on the right side. I didn’t join Jesus for all the benefits. I’ve only learned about them as I study the Bible. It turns out that believers are blessed with much more than we can understand even after a lifetime of study.