20: The Mystery Is Solved
**To kick off our Daniel series, and in preparation for moving into our new home on October 18th, the elders have invited our church family to a 28-day season of prayer and fasting. These daily devotionals correspond with the 28-day Bible reading countdown to the day we celebrate our soft opening.**
Reading the New Testament is kinda like reading the end of a mystery novel. At the very, very end, you find out "who done it." Have you noticed how many times Paul has used the word "mystery" so far? He's used it in 1:9, 3:3, 3:4, 3:6, 3:9, and he'll use it again in 5:32 and 6:19.
There's a lot of "mysteries" going on here, aren't there? And if we're not careful, we could miss what he's saying about the entire Old Testament as well as God's plan of redemption that included you and me (by the way, from here on, think "You" and "I" in place of the word "gentile"...unless you're Jewish, of course).
Paul says, "this mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles [that's you and me] are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promises in Christ Jesus" (3:6).
(By the way, if you haven't picked it up yet, circle the words "in Christ" everytime you see it).
So the question the reader asks is, what was the mystery? And here's where we can go wrong. The mystery was not that the gentiles would be included, the mystery was how they were going to be included -- through the penal, substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus that would reconcile the two.
How do we know Gentiles were going to be included? Well, everywhere in the Old Testament! But let's just start in Genesis. In Genesis 17:4-8, God told Abraham that he would be "the father of many nations." Not just one, but many, and his descendants would be "like the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore." In Isaiah 49:6, God said to Israel that, "I will also make you a light to the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
In Malachi 4:1-3 (quoted from Isaiah 2), Malachi says of the mountain of God that "peoples [not just Israel] will stream to it [think Mount Sinai and the Sermon on the Mount]. Many nations will come and say, 'let us go up to the mountain of God...and walk in his ways.'"
So this wasn't something new. This wasn't God's plan "B". This was God's plan all along to include you in his Plan. Isn't that amazing!
Messed up you.
Fighting against God Himself you.
And what was the purpose of Him including you? This is where the reveal happens. This is what magicians call the turn, where they reveal to you what was before your eyes all along but you just hadn't caught it yet: that the Church (big "C" Church...Grace City Church and the all who love Jesus-church), would put on display the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (3:10).
Whoa. Think about that. When we worship, when we gather, when we lift the name of Jesus, when we love, when we forgive, when we sacrifice, when we give generously, when we reach out when it's not convenient, when we honor, when we defend, when we protect...the wisdom of God expressed in the reconciled Church displays His glory to everyone. And not just here in the present world but in the unseen world.
What a plan. What a mystery. What a reveal. So keep loving, keep sacrificing, keep forgiving, keep being The Church. And together, we'll put on one of the greatest "magic shows" of the universe.