Mystery for the Ages

March 27, 2016 No Comments »
Mystery for the Ages

By Laury L. Davis

I love a good mystery—the setup, the red herrings, the suspense, the revelation, the conclusion. I especially appreciate a surprise ending and a really good wrap-up. It’s satisfying to send each character off into my imagination with a neatly tied bow of resolution. 

God has been weaving an incredible story throughout human history, the climax of which was the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah. As we celebrate this Easter, don’t miss the thrill of eternal mysteries revealed.

The Establishment of God’s Grace

In the beginning God looked at his creation and pronounced it good, but an Evil existed that hated God and set out to destroy his handiwork. Satan may have felt victorious when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command in the garden. The once harmonious universe was sent into a groaning spiral of decay, and humankind, the pinnacle of creation made in God’s image, was no longer good. This was more than an assault on God’s creation; this was an assault on God’s character.

In turn, people have long wrestled with the goodness of God when it seems life is unfair. Habakkuk questioned God, “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Habakkuk 1:13). Jeremiah did not hold back either when he asked God, “Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jeremiah 12:1).

God does not avoid the debate. He inspired one of the first manuscripts on the topic. Written possibly earlier than 1000 BC, the book of Job is thought to be one of the oldest texts in the Bible. It is interesting that human suffering would be the first topic on which the author God would choose to write. The book of Job asks, but does not answer, the age-old question “Why?” It points instead toward the person of our God, and in that person is the answer.

Moments after humans sinned the promise of a Redeemer was given (Genesis 3:15). Humankind chose a path leading to destruction, but the Creator wanted to make a way. He wanted to extend his kingdom to us in the midst of our willful defiance.

The promise of forgiveness shines as the divine illustration of God’s overflowing grace. The world points to tragedy and says, “See—God does not exist and, if he does, he is not good!” We can point toward a Savior and say, “God is alive and at work, and he is altogether kind.” 

One who accepts this forgiveness is a concrete testament that God is good, for he “seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6, 7).

The Mystery of the Victory

A promise had been given, and for many years followers of God retained faith in the coming Savior. The drama continued with the tightening suspense of silence. Four hundred years passed after Malachi’s prophecy of the coming Messiah (Malachi 4:5). Then one day a voice cut through the wilderness saying, “Prepare the way for the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). Israel perked their ears, and Satan coiled to strike.

The first venomous attack was in Bethlehem, a foreshadowing of the menace to come. King Herod heard of the newborn King and, inspired by the evil of fear and jealousy, decreed that all baby boys in the region would be killed. Satan seemed to believe he could thwart God’s salvation by killing the Christ, and maybe he thought he had succeeded. Having barely escaped the slaughter by quickly moving to Egypt and then quietly returning later, Jesus spent the next 30 years in the modest cloak of anonymity. Even after Jesus began his public ministry, when the crowd was planning to forcefully make him king, he eluded them and withdrew to the wilderness (John 6:15). Why? There were two mysteries to be solved.

First was the redemption of the Gentiles. The Jews were watching for their triumphant monarch, and they caught a glimpse of him riding a donkey into Jerusalem as they shouted, “Hosanna!” Satan must have been scrambling to intervene, for he was not ready to relinquish this world. He filled Judas and then he stoked the crowd until Jesus’ former celebrants were shouting, “Crucify him!” But the plan backfired. 

Paul said, “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” (Romans 11:25, 26). When Israel rejected Christ, a spiritual kingdom was established and enlarged. Paul went on to say, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6).

Satan did not recognize that prophesy was being fulfilled and that all people would be blessed through the Christ (Genesis 12:3). The Evil One continued in murderous rage, and probably once again thought himself victorious as the mangled Messiah dangled from the cross. 

Then the second mystery started to clear as the truth of redemption was revealed: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). 

Jesus was carrying far more than the cross on the road to Calvary, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). The blood that spilled did far more than drain Christ’s life, for it “freed us from our sins” (Revelation 1:5). 

At that moment in time, however, all seemed doomed. The disciples were in disarray, until another startling voice declared, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:6). Satan’s plans were completely ruined by the triumph of our God at the resurrection. Death was “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).

It was the surprise tactic evil could never anticipate—love and sacrifice. This is still good, but old news to the modern-day believer. Don’t miss the miracle of the Gospel. The redemption of humanity is a great wonder that even dismays the angels (1 Peter 1:12). 

The Revelation of God’s Wisdom

The plot of history has been expertly crafted. God created a good world; humans sullied it. God authored a way of redemption; Jesus accomplished it. The existence of the saved sinner is proof. Even the Prince of the Power of the Air is a witness and cannot deny it because “we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7, 8). 

Too late did Satan and his followers understand the prophesies of the Bible. The old serpent was uncomprehending of God’s mercy and love and unbelieving of his wisdom and power. 

Still to this day, the intense drama continues. Satan roars about in each of our lives, intending to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). Once again, like a skilled author, at just the right time God reveals his careful planning to work all things for good for each of his children (Romans 8:28). Only he is able to establish us “in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past” (Romans 16:25). 

As you enjoy this Easter season, do more than look to the past; peer into eternity. The story of each Christian contributes to the mystery of the ages. It is a tale which culminated at the cross, when the Son of Man was revealed as the central, worthy, and heroic character in the saga of humanity. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ restore the opportunity for people to become a glory to the Creator, for Christians stand before all principalities as everlasting proof of the grace and wisdom of God.

“This grace was given me . . . to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3:8-10).

Laury L. Davis is a freelance writer in Germantown, Tennessee.

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