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MYSTERIES AND MASTERIES,
BOTH FROM GOD AND TO BE RECEIVED
FROM HIMSELF TO OURSELVES
A Splendid Marvel in the Bible,
Appetising and Delightful
We were speaking of the means of grace in general, in terms of biblical revelation, as one of these.
Now we come to a special feature, that of mystery.
Paul speaks of the MYSTERY in Colossians 2:26-28, in terms of the incorporation of Jew and Gentile alike in the Gospel reaching the summit of Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). When you read Isaiah 66, in its closing verses, you realise that this is indeed a thing deep, challenging, awaiting further revelation, but substantially clear for all that, as in the case of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, as found in Matthew 13:11. The notable point here is that what is revealed is just what many righteous men would have loved to discover, but it is disclosed to the disciples with Jesus, to whom it was "given to know" the mysteries.
Thus, the divine mysteries are not either unknowable or necessarily unknown, and the term remains applicable even when they are not only capable of being understood, but ACTUALLY understood. Thus a murder mystery, in our terms, may retain that title even when the result becomes known. It is not its intrinsic character as unknown or unknowable that is in view, but the way in which it was hidden from the merely superficial, or from what had not yet received the necessary orientation or disclosure, whether now it be found out or not. This case is simply a parallel.
Thus again, in Ephesians 3:3, there is note of the revelation of the mystery of Christ, and in this case the focus is on the the conjunction in Christ with a common, but unique Gospel of Jew and Gentile, a thing shown in Isaiah 66, but shown now without the symbolism that tied things together so aptly, so that now it is put pithily. The Gentiles were to be heirs of the SAME BODY, with the Jews upon the conversion of the latter TO that same Jesus Christ, as in Romans 11. That is an EPISODE UNTIL which, at a future time to that of the apostle Paul's inspired writing (I Cor. 2:9-13, 14:37), and until that day dawns, the nation suffers in this, darkness, not receiving the light, and hence CUT OUT of the tree of faith.
There it is further made clear that whatever the coming of individual Jews, such as the apostles, to the Gospel centring in the cross of Christ and all that this phrase sums up, and the growth of the entire ecclesiastical body, the time will come, not an epoch but a phase, a developkment, an opening of the eyes for its criterion, when Israel (in bulk as in Zechariah 12), will come from a state of unbelief to one of belief. We do not become co-authors with God of His own word, so that when a passage depends for both its coherence and lucidity on concepts which are given names, such as Israel and Gentiles, which relate to clearly defined entities, only to re-define them esoterically. We do not suddenly alter the point by confusing issues and arbitrarily instituted a new definition, here, there, or a new schema and a new idea.
Thus as referent, it is Israel the nation, not the Gospel in notion, that is the point at issue in Romans 11:23-26; and this is the body which under that name was removed, having been a theocratic nation; and hence it is the body to have its eyes open. The apostles were plentifully gifted with spiritual sight in due course; but their nation was not (Isaiah 49:7 portraying this incisively, Matthew 26-28 historically). It was this which was the pith of the presentation, that Israel as a chosen, covenantal entity should come and then go, should be entitled to disperse the Gospel in a national manner (Isaiah 43:21), but failing Christ as in Micah 5:3, would yield the torch of declarative truth, to others.
The others ? that propensity came, as Paul declared it in Romans 11, to a body made up of many, of generic Gentile composition, though not excluding any of any race including episodic additions from amid those of the still unbelieving, indeed dramatically unbelieving nation. That national covenantal body in its testimony to God thus being cut out, is yet not to be dismissed; for God does not dismiss it utterly. On the contrary, it is to be grafted in again, and what, asks Paul would that be like, as if to be raised from the dead! What rejoicing that is to bring, he declares. .
To BE grafted in, it has to be there, as distinct from various oddments here and there, in this or that nation. You cannot graft back in what you took out, unless it is there to have it done to it. You cannot wear a medal if your chest is located miles away, at some personal presentaiton ceremony. You need to be there, not missing, as is itself shown in Luke 21:24. THEY, that nation, it will be there, and ruling itself.
The national being the entity in view, and it does not exist in order to obey the whim of sundry interpreters eisegetically cutting no ice in such intrusion, that same nation and not some notion, will be brought back into the Gospel field as Zechariah 12 indicates in its prediction. Coming back in its own name, Israel, to its own place, even Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:6), in case as it were anyone should forget where that is or what it is or for what it was instituted under Israel, this nation will at the outset NOT be converted, and then after some time amid the wars we have just had FOLLOWING this predicted restorative fact, it will be converted. As an unconvderted Church, by definition does not fulfil in symbol the nature of the entity called a Church, efforts to displace Israel with something or someone else is like changing the meaning, the precise and determinative meaning of a scientific symbol, like watt or metre, to some other thing. It would be inconceivable folly in the midst of any coverage simply to perform such magician's wonders. God is the author of order, not confusion. .
As in Luke 21:24, then, Israel, though to be so slaughterously treated as to lose stone by stone of its very central temple, in utter desolation, would be restored, and this was to be so distinct and contradistinct to what preceded, when its time came, that it would be an epoch marker. WHEN Israel was THUS back in control, when Jerusalem was no longer the object of rule by Gentiles in their blindness or their hegemony, THEN the Gentile era would cease. That is what the Saviour indicated, together with the coming desolation beforehand, as in Matthew 24:1ff..
The emergence of a self-ruling Israel in its place as such, would stare the nations in the face, and those categorical changes which had been so obvious when Rome destroyed the nation, in any coherent sense would be reversed. It would be clear, succinctly put as restoration of Jerusalem to Jewish rule, and it would be decisively observable, not an issue for debate, just as was the case in Joel's prophecy of one of the singularities of the Gentile era being a column of vapour amid vast signs, signals and specifications for that time. The prophetic divulgement is from the Lord. The mystery was subject to His mastery, and its development would be as clear as the restoration of Jew-Gentile correlation in the Gospel, in the ery sense that had been absent for so long and in so much, and after such a default in Israel as the national authority killing their King.
In each case, it was singular, it happened, downward and out, and it is to happen, opward and in, so that we have now been given notice that this is so. That era has ended. The phase of finale enters. The USA increasingly, and the UN characteristically, seem to be failing to realise what is happening, or even to obstruct its wonder, though earlier the USA, just like Britain earlier, was singular in its defence and aid to it.
Assuredly then, whether from the lips of Jesus the Christ, or Paul the apostle, the certainty is of the return of Israel to its own rule, and the evidential commentary of history the comment is this: yes, this is so. As specified, so it is. Please note, God has done PRECISELY what He said, and observe, this situation will continue to the end: WHAT HE SAID, in its own context, and not subject to the invasion or intrusion of human imagination and reconstruction, will equal WHAT HE DOES. He will of course in His divine and perfect eternal counsel, fulfil all that is in His heart, but the outline and depth, it is already given as in I Cor. 2.
This conversion phase with Israel, the exact opposite of its aversion phase in the murder of its King, tells us at once two things. This OUT and this BACK phenomenon, as in Romans 11, has a lesson or two for us to learn.
First, recall what the nation Israel, did. Not all agreed, such as apostles and thousands of early converts IN Israel. But the nation nevertheless, as such, did it. It could not be endorsed at all! If a nation kills someone, it does not thereby kill the consciences of all its citizens! Some will stand at whatever cost; and so did the apostles, making the point everlasting explicit as in Acts 4:5ff., especially 4:18, and in 5:29, though they were beaten for it. Beaten in body, was this group, but not in heart. In spirit, they triumphed in grace, as CHrist did in body in the resurrection, and it is just that power made available to Christians (Ephesians 1:19-20)
NEVER trust your nation to deliver for you; for IT is an aggregate. If it errs, following in this the apostles, do not follow like blindly, dust-blinded sheep. KEEP THE FAITH clearly and without ambiguity, as those same apostles did, and when it comes to believing in, following the word of God (the two close together as in John 15), there is no issue. You have NO compromise, acceptance or obedience whatever to the State which would TELL you to conform to it, when in fact duty lies in a call NOT to betray the commandments, rules and directions in the Bible, concerning the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. That is no mere symbol, any more than was the crucifixion. It transforms the life within, will transform the world without, in His millenial day, before its judgment. Its testimony is to be impervious to alien penetration and gulled diplomatic deception.
Secondly, the other lesson, it is simply this, that the mystery of Jewish composition internationally with the Gospel, when at last as a nation it returns to the Lord (Zechariah 12:`10), involves the re-institution of Israel that it might believe, and its restoratoin to rule occur, as from the word of Christ in Luke 21. All these things are part of the complex, simple as it is at heart, of the association of coming and going, this and that people, this and that historical element, this and that growing and cutting and grafting and desolation and restoration, which is in the divine program. It has many elements; one core; much to be accomplished (now more nearly through), but one overall directive theme. It has many promises, but one set of premises; it has many variables but one end.
Heavenly mysteries are not made to be stunners, except to the blind, whose eyes they have shut in this case, LEST they should see, and in the worst case, see and be converted (Matthew 13:13-17. They are things to be relished and to delight in, and it is a great privilege to have such things brought out and wrought out before one's very eyes, first spiritually and then operationally and in history. There are wonders to come, indeed, but not to the detriment of jot or tittle of all that God has said. Rather are they profundities which, while clear in outline (I Corinthians 13, 2:9-13), and of great depth, are not fully unknown, but awaiting further exhibition when the time comes. In heaven, much more will be shown and known, but EVEN THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD are already in kind shown as mercifully Paul shows in I Cor. 2.
One of the distinctive and decisive, indeed unique wonders of the word of God among all other words from anyone other than God, found in the Bible, is that it is no dream, but a matter of detail, no shunting of philosophic mutables, but rock like in its power, can also like a hammer, break pretentious rocks which seek to compete. Its eventuation, when God spoke, and its fulfilment, are as one. It is neither simplistic, like some robotic language, nor opaque (cf. Proverbs 8:8), but what it shows in EACH context, is to be taken in its integrity, and seen in composition with ALL it says, as in any careful approach to documents. It is not twisted, but truth as Proverbs indicates.
The worst of the mysteries is the capacity of man to shut the eyes so that even an elephant at two feet cannot be seen, though perhaps a little FELT; and the best is this, that it all becomes clear as when mist recedes, and then goes.
Praise the Lord for His mysteries and masteries, but for the latter the more.