In exile in Babylon, a man named Daniel saw God work miracles because he knew and walked in God’s ways. Daniel announced to the Babylonian king, “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Dan. 2:28). When the king had a troubling dream, Daniel did not try to figure out what the dream was or what it meant. Rather, Daniel asked the God who reveals mysteries to show him – and God did.
In his New Testament letters, Paul often spoke of God’s mysteries. For example, Paul wrote about:
The mystery of Israel and the church
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25-26).
“This mystery is the Good News that people who are not Jewish have the same inheritance as Jewish people do. They belong to the same body and share the same promise that God made in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 3:6 GW).
The mysteries uttered in tongues
“Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit … The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified” (1 Cor. 14:2, 5).
The mystery of the Christian life
“This Christian life is a great mystery …” (1 Tim. 3:16 MSG).
“The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory” (Col. 1:27 MSG).
The mystery of Christ’s relationship to his people
“This is a great mystery. (I’m talking about Christ’s relationship to the church.)” (Eph. 5:32 GW).
The mystery of his return
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
The greatest mystery, Christ himself
“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery” (Col. 2:2 MSG).
How did Paul relate to the mysteries of God?
“I am the least of all God’s people. Yet, God … allowed me to explain the way this mystery works. God, who created all things, kept it hidden in the past. He did this so that now, through the church, he could let the rulers and authorities in heaven know his infinite wisdom” (Eph. 3:8-10 GW).
“We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Cor. 2:7).
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing … For we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1 Cor. 13:2, 9).
What God revealed to Paul, Paul spoke. Yet he acknowledged mystery as mystery – as something still revealed only in part. Further, Paul acknowledged God’s mysteries as something not revealed to him alone, or solely to leaders, but to the church. That includes you and me.
Paul’s letters urge us to receive what God shows us and to “desire … especially the gift of speaking what God has revealed.” Yet above all, Paul urges, “Purse love” (1 Cor. 14:1 GW).
You, too, be blessed to know your Lord as the God who reveals mysteries. Be blessed to walk in his ways.
Reject the lie that your particular church culture has these and other mysteries figured out: Israel and the church, tongues, the Christian life, Christ’s relationship to his people, our Lord’s return – even Christ Jesus himself. Reject the strong temptation to trample all over love to enforce a particular brand of orthodoxy.
Instead, be blessed to delight in understanding and imparting the mysteries God wants to make known to you. Be blessed to receive what he shows you, even when it challenges what you thought you had all figured out. Remain humble, teachable, knowing that in this life you will always “know in part.” Above all, use what God reveals to bring him honor and to demonstrate his love.
“God Who” article – introducing the series
Posts in the “God Who” series