“in order that at the name of Jesus every knee would be bent in heavenly places and in earthly places and in places under the earth and every tongue would admit that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
And all of God’s people said, “AMEN!” This is one of those passages that ought to stir us up because it is a reminder that there is a time coming when all of the pretense of atheism and all of the rebellion of false religions will be brought to a crushing halt and Christ in his fullness will be revealed even to his enemies and they will bow before him. Amen. Amen. Amen. What a day that will be.
Yet do know, this passage is not talking about universal conversion. The language of knees bending is language that refers to people bowing in submission to one who is greater than they are. In some cases, it refers to a willing submission to one’s good and just master. But in other cases, it is used to portray the humiliating defeat of a king’s enemies who are then forced to bow, if even under the crushing foot of the victorious king.
The confession follows along with that notion. Believers, of course, will joyfully proclaim the Lordship of Jesus. Unbelievers, though, will utter it out of abject hatred through clenched teeth. They then are the defeated foe made to confess the Truth against which they have been rebelling with all of their might. These who stand in rebellion against the King of Kings hate him so greatly that they would choose even the torments of hell to remove themselves from his presence. And had Jesus not saved us from our sin by giving us spiritual rebirth, changing our wicked hearts, we would be doing the same…seething at the notion of admitting to be true that which we had spent a lifetime suppressing in our hearts.
Thus, while these verses are a song of triumph and hope for the believer, they are utter condemnation to the unbeliever. It is glory and salvation for some and utter defeat for others. May indeed we all be amongst those who will celebrate at the throne of Christ, bowed in grateful submission before his feet. And to those who stand against Christ here and now in this life, know that there will be a time when you will stand no longer but will be bowed down in utter defeat.