Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Everyone Loves a Good Mystery

You've heard that saying before, right? Is it true? Well, I don't know if everyone does, but I think most of us enjoy getting caught up in a good mystery novel or movie, don't we? Something about a good mystery makes us want to do two things. First we try to guess the ending. Second, we cheat and look ahead because we just can't wait any longer to solve the mystery, right? C'mon, admit it. I know you've done that.

Maybe you're like me and can't wait for your next roll of the dice so you can accuse Col. Mustard, in the kitchen with the revolver. (If this means nothing to you, Google clue, the board gameJ) Advertisers and marketers count on our curiosity to see what happens next. They know we want to see the mystery revealed. We also want to see if we are smart enough to get the answer before it's revealed. When you watch "House Hunters," don't you always guess which house the buyers will pick? Oops, I let the secret out. OK, I have to let my wife watch something other than sports once in a while, don't I?

Well, if you love mysteries, then you have to love the bible. It speaks often of the mysteries of God, His love and our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Did you know that the New Testament speaks of a mystery twenty two times? What's really awesome is that some things which have long been a mystery have already been revealed. We don't even have to go all the way to the end of the book to find out the answers (although there are some great ones at the end of the book).

Let's take a look at some of these mysteries. The first one is found in Matthew and Luke and it concerns the kingdom of heaven. Jesus, speaking to His disciples says this, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given."(Matt 13:11 NKJV) Luke puts it this way, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.'(Lk 8:10 NKJV) The first thing that is revealed to us is that when Jesus talks about the kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, He means the same thing. They are interchangeable terms. You might also notice that some people are spoken to directly (the disciples and consequently us) and some by parables. What is the purpose of this?

In many cases, Jesus spoke in parables so that the Pharisees and teachers of the law would not understand. Why is it that they didn't understand? When we look at the parables, we seem to be able grasp the meaning don't we? That is because if you are a believer, the Holy Spirit guides you into all truth (Jn 16:12), so that you might understand. The Pharisees and teachers of Israel had hardened their hearts and did not really want truth, they just wanted to maintain their power, so Jesus spoke in parables and they neither saw nor understood those truths.

So what mysteries of the Kingdom of God have been revealed to us? Would you believe that there are 66 references to the phrase "kingdom of God" in the NIV version of the New Testament? There is 32 more that use the term "kingdom of heaven" so obviously I'm not going to cover them all in this blog. (Hey, I heard that big sigh of relief!) What is important is understanding what the term really means so that you can look up all these verses and discover the mystery of the kingdom of God.

The Greek word used most often for kingdom in the New Testament is basileia. It comes from the root word basileus. According to Kittel, the term refers to the being or state of a king. Plainly it means being in the realm of and being ruled by a sovereign being. In an earthly sense it spoke of a realm in which the people of that particular area were subject to. If you live in a kingdom, you are subject to the authority of that king.

The people at the time this was written certainly understood what it meant to be part of a kingdom. The Roman Empire ruled most of the known world at that time and all who lived in it were subject to the dictates of its' current Emperor. But Jesus spoke of a kingdom that was not of this world (Jn 18:36). He revealed that this kingdom is eternal (Lk 1:33) and that you gain entrance by being a disciple of Christ. (2
Peter 1:11) Wow, how is that for a mystery being revealed!

Now in today's world, we don't think much about being under the dominion of a kingdom, especially here in the USA. But guess what? Until we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are under the reign of the ruler of this world, Satan. The earth is his kingdom for a while longer until the return of Christ. But Col 1:13 teaches that we have been rescued from the "domain of darkness" and brought into the kingdom of His (God's) dear Son.
There is a time coming when this earth will no longer be the realm of Satan. (Rev 11:15) Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"
NKJV. What a day that will be! If I ever wanted to get to the end of a story and see what happens, this is the one!

Mysteries revealed. They are all over the Word of God. This is a book I just can't put down! I hope and pray that you won't be able to either.

GAME PLAN: I highly recommend that you get a concordance and look up five scriptures each day for one week about the "kingdom of God" or "kingdom of heaven" and let the Lord reveal more and more of this mystery to you.

God bless you in the study of His word,





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