Who does not like a good mystery now and then? What is it about the unknown that grabs our attention so strongly that we just have to push the boundaries of fear and suspense one step farther to see what is beyond the next horizon, or behind that close or locked door, or maybe something even simpler, such as that bench with the “wet paint” sign taped to it! Is it still wet?! Mystery solved, as we walk away with fresh, wet paint on the tip of our finger, or the backside of our new jeans!
In my younger days as a lad, we had a master of “suspense and mystery”, a writer named Alfred Hitchcock, who could take you to the edge of covering your eyes, or biting your nails as to what will happen next! But now as an adult, jaded and desensitized by modern computerized tales, I look back and wonder how I became so griped by these stories. A good mystery, book or program, kept you in suspense by not revealing all the truths and answers in the beginning, but instead, they were revealed later in the story as you get to know the characters and the plot.
There is another great “mystery” creator that is still with us today, and who has always been and shall always be. He was far greater than Hitchcock, in fact, He created him! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a great mystery in Himself, kept secrets, mysteries, from the beginning of time, but later began to reveal them through the Holy Spirit, and by one of His chosen apostles, Paul. These mysteries are truths known to God before time that He has kept secret until the appropriate time for Him to reveal them. This is told to us in Ephesians 3:4, as well as other references.
But how and when did Paul find or receive the mysteries of God? After all, in his early life, he was dedicated to destroying this new”Way” that was sweeping through the ranks of the Jewish people. Well, after his miraculous conversion, Paul immediately started preaching “the Christ” in the synagogues! Needless to say, he was upsetting the Jews, so they plotted to kill him, and Paul had to flee Damascus.
Between Acts 9:25 and 9: 26, there is a three year gap! Paul did not go directly from Damascus to Jerusalem, but took a sabbatical to Arabia! In Galatians chapter one, Paul is explaining his calling, and in verse 17 he tells us he did not go to Jerusalem, but Arabia, then later returned to Damascus. Verse 18 reveals to us that it was 3 years before he went to Jerusalem. Have you ever wondered what he was doing in Arabia?
Les Feldick, an excellent Bible Study layman, brought up an interesting fact that in Arabia is Mt. Sinai, and where did Moses get his seminary degree and the Ten Commandment tablets? Mt. Sinai! So, it is an easy assumption that this is where Paul received his degree and knowledge in the mysteries of God, and more. In II Peter 3:15 there is a reference where Peter talks of Paul, how that the wisdom was “given to him”! Where better to receive such wisdom then the very place where God use to speak to His people?!
The dictionary tells us that a mystery is something not fully understood or understandable; a religious truth revealed to the elect. A religious truth revealed but not fully understood or understandable, would be a perfect description of the confusion among the Jews and, probably Gentiles as well, concerning one of the mysteries Paul was about to reveal in Ephesians 3! Isaiah 49:6 (KJV.) states that “I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles”. John MacArthur believes that it has always been Israel’s mission to bring the nations to God, and now Paul is revealing in Galatians what the Holy Spirit has revealed to him that the Gentiles will be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel!
What a bombshell Paul had just dropped! What a mystery or truth revelation that was! But this could not have been revealed in the Old Testament, because The Gospel, The Good News, the shed blood of salvation had not yet taken place! Remember what was said in the second paragraph: “A good mystery, book or program, kept you in suspense by not revealing all the truths and answers in the beginning, but instead, they were revealed later in the story as you get to know the characters and the plot.” In the next issue, we will explore more mysteries and truths revealed!