The Mystery of God

We’re were discussing Rev. 10:7 this morning. Do you see “the mystery of God” as “He preached to His servants the prophets” that was no longer “delayed” and was “finished” the same as “the mystery of Israel?”

Do you think the angel in Rev. 10:7 is the same as the angel of Dan. 12:7? And are they both speaking the same message?

I believe so. Rev 10:7 describes the comprehensive mystery of God that includes His whole work with Israel, as the nation of the irrevocable covenant, and also the mystery of the time between the two advents of Messiah, which no one knew until the time appointed (see 1Pet 1:11-12 with Ro 16:25-26).

Within its scope, there is the mystery of the two seeds, each headed up in an incarnation. This is signified in Dan 9:25-26 where “messiah the prince” heads up the “mystery of godliness” (1Tim 3:16) in the incarnation of the Word made flesh, while “the coming prince” heads up the “mystery of iniquity (2Thes 2:7) in the incarnation of the seed of the Serpent, i.e., the incarnation of Satan in the flesh.

This comprehensive mystery of God is no less “the mystery of the gospel” (Eph 6:19). It was concealed in the prophetic writings until the set time when it would be manifest by the revelation that would unlock its full meaning to those who first received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (see 1Pet 1:11-12).

The secret that was hid in other ages was now to be made known to all nations “by” the scriptures of the prophets (Ro 16:25-26). It is also called, “the mystery of His will’ (Eph 1:9-10), and “the eternal purpose,” which He purposed in Christ before all worlds (Eph 3:11).

It is this larger overarching mystery of God that forms the background and context for the distinct ‘mysteries’ (plural) that Paul speaks of in his epistles. The “mystery of Christ in you (even you gentiles) the hope of glory” is another aspect and application that comes out of the revelation of the mystery of the incarnation, as part of the greater, all inclusive mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ” (Col 2:2).

The mysteries are not separate, but emphasize distinct aspects of the multi-faceted mystery of God that has come to light in the gospel. Paul speaks of the gospel, as a “mystery” (Eph 6:19) “kept secret in other ages,” but now manifest and made known by writings of the prophets (Ro 16:25-26).  This means that the vindication of the apostolic proclamation would be its manifest conformity to what the prophets had foretold in the Hebrew scriptures (Acts 26:22).

The mystery of Israel’s fall and return in relation to the formerly unknown interim between the advents is another example. With the revelation of the mystery of Christ’s coming, departure, and return to Israel, it could now bee seen that God had determined to use Israel’s fall to “open a door of faith to the gentiles” (Acts 14:27).

The mystery was that God’s oath to bless all nations through Abraham’s seed would be fulfilled, not only after the final tribulation when the nation would be restored to holiness, as most Jews expected, but between the two comings of the Messiah, beginning with the death of Jesus and the full revelation of the mystery of the gospel at Pentecost.

Contrary to anything conceived before the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, both the means and the time that God would fulfill His promise to bless the nations could now be seen. Though unknown and unexpected, the gentiles would be blessed, not only after Israel’s restoration at the future great day of the Lord, but all throughout an extended time of covenant judgment that will last until the post-tribulational return of the rejected cornerstone (Zech 12:10 with Mt 23:39). Though unknown and unexpected, this great anomaly of history was all foretold by Moses and the prophets (Deut 31-32; Isa 49:4-5 KJV; Mic 5:1-5 etc.).

As part of the threatened curses of the covenant, Moses had foretold that God would hide His face from the disobedient nation until the time of their reconciliation. During this time of estrangement and judgment, God said He would provoke them to jealousy by a “not a people.” This is the ‘foolish nation’ that Moses had spoken of in Deut 32:21, also by Jesus in Mt 21:43, and by Paul in Ro 10:19. We call it the church (1Pet 2:9), but it is all part of a mystery that is not finished until “the Deliverer comes out of Zion to turn away ungodliness from Jacob (Ro 11:25-29 with Isa 59:21). In my view, even Paul’s mention of the rapture and translation of the saints at Christ’s return (1Cor 15:51-54 esp., 54 with Isa 25:7-9; 26:16-21; 27:13; Dan 12:1-2) is the climactic terminal point of the larger mystery of God, as the mystery of the rapture clarifies how so many otherwise conflicting elements of OT prophecy can be harmonized.

Until the appointed time of its revelation, Jesus was the sole guardian of this secret (Isa 53:11; Mt 16:17, 20-23; Mk 9:9-10; Lk 18:34). This “hidden wisdom” was kept secret, not only from men, but even from the principalities and powers until they would once and for all be exposed and fatally defeated through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. This was God’s hidden strategy prepared before the world began (1Cor 2:7-8; 1Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8). Jesus would make sure that at the time of fulfillment and revelation his disciples would recognize in hindsight that He was in complete knowledge of this mystery throughout His entire ministry (Isa 53:11).

The mystery was hidden not only from the pride of man, not only from Satan and his angels, but even from the righteous until the appointed time (“not made known to the sons of men;” Eph 3:5). Although testified in the prophets as all fully foretold (Acts 26:22), this hidden wisdom was divinely designed to elude not only flesh but angels, since by it, Satan would be hung on his own gallows (1Cor 2:7-8).

Paul is saying that had the demonic realm known this mystery (with the cross at its heart), they would surely NOT have inspired Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, or the pious leaders of Israel to crucify the Lord of glory. Thus, it is clear that the mystery of Messiah’s death before resurrection and return was not only hidden from men but from Satan. Satan was defeated by the mystery at Christ’s first coming. He is bound in the believer’s experience by its revelation by the Spirit to the heart. He will be further bound as concerns Israel and the nations when Jesus returns to translate the church and deliver captive Israel. That is when the mystery of God will be finished.

Finally, in view of all that we have said of God’s covenant commitment to the natural branches, from whom the gifts and calling can never depart, isn’t it awesome to observe that that at the same time Christ returns, Satan is bound? Just as Jesus said, “it is finished,” this will be the next great, ‘it is finished’ of history. “Behold, it is come, and it is done; this is the day whereof I have spoken” (compare Eze 39:8; with Rev 16:17). This is because against all odds, every word that God has spoken concerning His everlasting covenant has now been fulfilled openly in the sight of all nations, when the eyes of poor blinded Israel are finally and forever opened to recognize Jesus as their long estranged brother Joseph. This is the blessed day that all the prophets call, “that day” (Eze 39:22).

Now, at the sound of the great trumpet (Isa 27:13), “all Israel” (all that are left) will return as a penitent, all holy nation, to dwell in the Land in peace, never to see the face of their enemies again forever. This full restoration to holy nationhood of the full number of the elect from among the natural branches is what Paul sees as the climax of the covenant. “This is My covenant with THEM (the natural branches) when I will (future) take away THEIR sin.”

Surely this is the finishing of the mystery of God. It is nothing else or other than the post-tribulational return of Jesus “at the last trump” (Mt 24:29, 31 with 1Cor 15:52; Isa 27:13; Rev 10:7; 11:15). Since this is also the day of the Lord spoken of by all the prophets of Israel, I do not personally see how the time and manner of Israel’s deliverance could have been made in plainer. It is at the seventh (last) trumpet, when “the mystery of God” should be finished, which He has declared to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).

The church, properly understood, should be the ‘maskilim’ who know the secret through the Spirit of revelation, and therefore and watch and pray in priestly intercession and travail for the day of the Lord to come that will finish the mystery of God with Christ’s return out of Zion to deliver captive Israel. Although the time is indeed “determined” of God (Ps 102:13; Dan 9:24; 11:27, 35-36; 12:7), still, as the church, and stewards of the mysteries (the wise of Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10), we have a key role in its fulfillment.

Therefore, I close with this: Church history tells us that as the blessed martyr, William Tyndale, was burning at the stake, his last cry was, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” Our cry should be just as earnest that God would open the eyes of the true remnant of His people to their stewardship and calling to be a corporate Jeremiah or prophetic witness to the dead, but elect and ever beloved nation, since only with their return can the Lord return and the mystery of God be finished. To long for the one is to groan in travail for the other.

So gratefully your brother, Reggie

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Reflections on the Mystery of Israel and the Church... by Reggie Kelly

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