Everyone loves a good mystery. It challenges us. Man is ever self-challenged to conquer the world: Nebuchadnezzar, Darius the Mede, Cyrus the Persian, Alexander the Great, and Rome, to name a few. Alexander cried when there were no more worlds to conquer.
But wait: More worlds are on our horizon! Man looks upward into the heavens, not to glorify the Creator but to conquer space and therein glorify himself. And the race is on to explore the mysteries of the vast universe. Daniel’s prophecy regarding the last days’ increase of knowledge (12:4) has truly come to pass. Advances in technology that were unheard of a few short years ago are becoming the norm.
Mystery in Scripture differs from how we think of the word in our day. It signifies a truth hidden long ago but later revealed. For example, prophets reaffirmed the promise, first made in the Garden of Eden, of a Messiah who would be an antidote to lawlessness. They were not privileged to see its fulfillment, though they would have rejoiced to see His day. Prophets also hinted at future events that must occur prior to a second coming of the Messiah, and Jesus expanded on the same.
Another mystery connection is in the phase of the promise: the “mystery of lawlessness,” already at work (2 Thessalonians 2:7) and spawned in the garden when man disobeyed his Maker. Satan and his cohorts would try every tactic to bring man to his knees and continue to work without letup.
God created man to commune with and glorify Him. All of human pursuit in worldly knowledge He regards as foolishness. The natural man, in turn, considers the ways of God as utter foolishness. He turns his back on God, ignoring His warnings and choosing the way purported to make him as wise as God (Genesis 3:5). But sin divides, and man was driven from the Almighty’s presence into a world filled with harsh consequences. Even so, out of this maze of repercussions, God promised reconciliation through the Seed of the woman — another mystery (v. 15).
Born under lowly circumstances and growing up among them, Jesus went unacknowledged by the Jews. Blinded, not having the love of God in them, enemies of the gospel for the Gentiles’ sake, the Jews were still beloved by God for the sake of their godly ancestors (Romans 11:28). Paul calls this a “mystery” too (v. 25). Through mercy shown to the Gentiles, the Jews would also obtain mercy. Paul reminded the Romans that, when Elijah felt dejected and alone, God told him there were still seven thousand men who had not bowed down to Baal. In like manner, Paul said there was still “a remnant [of Israel] according to the election of grace” (v. 5).
Jesus spoke in parables to the many who followed Him, but spoke plainly to His disciples in private, of another kind of mystery. The Jews were dull hearted, unseeing, unhearing, unable to understand. However, to the disciples were “given . . . to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11). At Pentecost, Peter delivered this same message, kept secret from before the world began, to Jews gathered at Jerusalem from every nation. Distraught, repentant Jews were baptized into Christ by the thousands.
Had the Jews not been blind to Christ’s identity, they would not have crucified Him, and the Romans had no reason to do so. If Christ had not died, we would have no other recourse for salvation, for it required a perfect blood sacrifice to institute it.
God intended for everyone everywhere, Jew and Gentile alike, to know the mystery of His will and be one in Christ, even as Christ is one with God, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, 28, emphasis added). The prophets and apostles laid the foundation of the mystery of the gospel in Christ, the Cornerstone (Romans 16:25). We must be careful how we build. Jesus is the only foundation, and through Him we obtain reconciliation with God.
Prior to Christ’s second coming, a “falling away comes first, and the man of sin [margin: lawlessness] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). This “mystery of lawlessness” (or iniquity, KJV) is at work in our world today, as from the beginning, according to God’s plan, even as “the glory of this mystery . . . Christ in you” nears its completion in anticipation of Jesus’ revelation (v. 7; Colossians 1:27).
Ministers of mysteries
In our natural (biological) birth we were formed in the image of our parents. Our spiritual rebirth in Christ re-forms us in His very image, and our bodies become temples of God. We are warned not to defile our bodies, for the Spirit dwells within. Are you worldly wise? Become a fool in the world’s eyes, but wise toward God.
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16). Gaze into the heavens, not to seek new worlds to conquer but to glorify God, the Creator of it all. Be reconciled to God. Worship the One who reveals the hidden things of the gospel according to His eternal purpose and timetable. Look up. Set your mind on things above. Appreciate God’s handiwork and His plan for new heavens and a new earth. Be in Christ as Christ is in God, so we all become one with God. Share God’s wisdom with a spiritually deficient world. Step up as “stewards of the mysteries of God” that is this glorious gospel (1 Corinthians 4:1).
Everyone loves a good mystery!