In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 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. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. (Eph. 3:4-9)
A couple of weeks ago we had a combined worship service with the Messsianic Jewish congregation that uses our church facilities on Saturdays. Gentile and Jewish Christians together were singing praise to Yeshua, which is the Hebrew name for Jesus (the English form, “Jesus,” is derived from the Greek version of his name). One of the songs we sang together was a celebration of Jews and Gentiles together in the Messiah. As I watched them worship from their tradition, I was moved by thankfulness over God’s grace to me.
God revealed himself to one man, Abraham, on the basis of his faith, and then to the nation of people descended from him. He gave them His holy Law to protect them. It was a boundary, defining a people who would be set apart from the nations through their obedience. It permitted a perfectly holy God to come and dwell with them, for as long as they remained faithful and separate. On the inside of that boundary was the nation of Israel, a nation that had its own struggles to remain faithful. On the outside of that boundary, separated from God, was the rest of the world. Outside the boundary of the law were the pagan nations who lived in sin, with no regard for the creator. Outside of the boundary were people destined for destruction. Outside of the boundary was me. And you too, probably.
The mystery is that God always had a plan to bring his righteousness to those outside the law. That a way would be created for Him to dwell in the hearts of all people, not just in the camp of Israel. But it would be a costly way—one that He would undertake on our behalf. To come to earth and walk among those with sin, who were lost; to become as one of them. And then to take the penalty for their failure upon himself. It’s there in the Old Testament, cryptically woven in to the prophets. The Messiah who would bring righteousness to the nations of the world, at the cost of his own life; but it wasn’t obvious, this mystery. Not back then.
We couldn’t find our way into Israel, so God’s righteousness went beyond the boundary of the law to meet us where we were at, in our sin and failure. It was because of him, the Messiah, that we became heirs of the promise to Abraham. It was because of his death for us—Yeshua, whose name means Deliverer. Yeshua Messiah, Jesus Christ. He joined those who were faithful in Israel together with Gentiles—those outside the law—who put their trust in Him. It’s a mystery, like Paul says. It is the good news (“gospel”). There is no greater news for me, as one of those who lived in sin, separated from him. I am a testament to his grace. You are too. As I was worshipping with those to whom the promise was originally given, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness across the ages to his people. And I am waiting for the rest of his great plan to be revealed.