Sunday, February 16, 2020
In our outline of Ephesians we completed the parenthetical 3:2-13.
Before we move on …
A few words on the mystery: the person, work, and life of Jesus Christ.
(by “life of Christ” we mean the type of life and not only His incarnation. He is eternal life.)
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. 6 Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved.
He was the spiritual rock that followed Israel in its wanderings, from whose springs the people drank. Later He came into the world and offered it living water and the bread from heaven, which if they drank and ate of them, they would never thirst or hunger again.
Thousands of years of promises which the world longed to see fulfilled were all fulfilled in the person of Christ Jesus our Lord.
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Throughout the history of Israel, the people would also be offered to drink from the prophecy of the many holy men of old. As the water from the Rock would touch their lips, so the prophets would touch their ears, but would they hear? Would they know the revealed shadow of the One who was to come?
Regardless of the uncircumcised ears of most of the people of Israel that had left them deaf to God’s revelation, the Messiah would still come, and that, on perfect schedule.
The revelation of Jesus Christ gives unity, substance, and meaning to the history of Israel, which is otherwise a pathway without a goal, a problem without a solution.
The line of the great figure drawn on the canvas of prophecy - disconnected as they seem and without a cohesive plan, giving rise to a thousand dreams and speculations - are filled out and drawn into shape and take life and substance in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in Thee.
In this poem, David takes notice of the prosperity of the wicked around him. He resolves to keep his mouth shut, but this only caused a fire to rise within him. In his silence he sought to resolve the paradox that the wicked prosper in a world created by a righteous God, and without a clear answer, he bursts forth his concern to the Lord.
He asks God to show him how short his life is so that he can be comforted at least in the fact that he won’t have to deal with the burning questions of life for too much longer. His request from God leads him to remember that every life is like a vapor, and also that every life is sinful, and so every man is chastened by God. David writes (of himself or a hypothetical figure) requesting that God turn His chastening hand away that he might find peace.
The song seems almost hopeless. It smacks of Job wondering why in God’s world that he suffers the way he does. But notice again that one line, “And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in Thee.”
David, in this writing, looks to a future lost in the fog. He sees the present clear enough - “This doesn’t look like God’s world.” He sees the past and contemplates that God has shown Himself clearly as being One of justice and certainly to be trusted.
In another song, David states this beautifully:
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
We may think that the OT saints needed only faith in promises and so had an easier time of it then we do who have the promises as well as the Christ fully revealed and fully ours. They hoped and we have the reality of that hope. They saw into the future dimly (mystery) while we live in the heavenly clarity of all things fulfilled (mystery brought to light). But think of the heroic nature of their faith. Faith like ours and in the same object as ours, but theirs was a grounded and unshakeable faith in a silhouetted figure of a man, far away in the distance on a dark and foggy night.
The blessed future of Israel was promised sure enough, but so often, to the faithful like David, its assurance came into question as they looked at the world around them. Even so, David lays hold on Yavah as the Living One and as the God of the living.
“It is just this which is so heroic in the Old Testament faith, that in the midst of the riddles of the present, and in the face of the future which is lost in dismal night, it casts itself unreservedly into the arms of God.” [Keil and Delitzsch]
Now, in light of that time and those people, if you could to some extent transport yourself back to their time and their lives, imagine possessing the reality of the mystery revealed, and possessing as your own the Messiah Himself as your eternal husband and friend.
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
Peter does not use the word “person” in vs. 11.
“seeking to know what [time or season] or what manner of time [or season]”
Yet, even fulfilling the ancient prophecies, His fulfillment is not exhausted. He solves the problems of the past as He unseals the ancient mysteries, but He creates new and deeper problems, some explained in the continued teaching of His Spirit and His providence, others that remain.
Though He fulfills all the prophecy of the past, He brings more questions to bear - His eternal Sonship, His pre-incarnate relation to mankind, His salvation by faith and also predestined, His hypostatic union, His eternity as God and Man, the final outcome of the mediatorial reign and its subordination to the absolute sovereignty of God.
These depths Paul sounded with his plummet; but he found them unfathomable. Theological science has explored and definedthem, and illuminated them on many sides, but cannot reach to their inmost mystery.
Christ uncovered many mysteries of the past, while He also gave us more that remain uncovered. In trying to unravel the further ones some have distorted them.
If you can’t untie the knot you shouldn’t cut it. Leave it tied and accept that which is revealed on both sides, and without detriment or deprecation to the other.
Another class of questions surround His cross. Mysteries surrounding His payment for the sins of the world, His being forsaken by His Father when He is also a member of the Trinity, His seeming separation of body, soul, and spirit upon His physical death.
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established [perfect participle = was, are, and are forever] and steadfast [i.e. you are not one of the Gnostic fakers who have infiltrated and influenced your ranks], and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
The mystery of God in Christ making Him to be sin in order to reconcile us and the world, 2CO 5:18-21.
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.