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Mystery Lady
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Wendy Wippel

Most Bible scholars know that when Jesus (or Paul) used the word “mystery”, they  weren’t talking Agatha Christie.  The word had a slightly different meaning then.  They were, however, talking about a woman of sorts, one we all know very well.  Yep.  We have met the mystery and it is us.

The word mystery, when Jesus and Paul used it, meant something that was about to be revealed that had been previously hidden.

Actually, the Greek word translated "mystery" literally means to keep your mouth shut.  So it is pretty interesting that when Jesus began His public ministry (with the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew, the Bible specifically records that Jesus "opened His mouth”.  In addition, with that, mysteries-- things not revealed in the Old Testament-- began to be revealed.

Mysterious DoorHow many mysteries were there?  There are ten verses in the New Testament in which the respective mysteries are discussed.  Two of them deal with sin—specifically, with the final irrevocable rejection of God despite the overwhelming evidence of His power and authority during the tribulation.  (The mystery of Babylon: Revelation 17:1-18, and the mystery of lawlessness: II Thessalonians 2:1-12) One more in Revelation reveals that the point at which the mysteries have come to completion.

The other seven define the mystery of God's kingdom. (The one built without human hands: Daniel 9).

1) The mystery revealed to those who follow Christ:  "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God."

2) The mystery of the church in the stars and seven lampstands: "The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches." (Revelation 1:20 NJKV)

3) The mystery of the body of Christ : "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery … which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel."  (Ephesians 3:1-6)

4) The Mystery of the indwelling Messiah: "I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:24-29)

5) The Mystery of the Bride of Christ: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church."  (Ephesians 5:22-23)

6) The Mystery of Israel's Hardening: "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." (Romans 9:1)

7) The Mystery of the Rapture: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (I Corinthians 15:50)

So, to summarize: The mystery described is one only understood by the disciples-- the body of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  That body of believers constitutes the Bride of Christ, chosen after Israel's rejection of their Messiah, a Bride destined to be snatched up when her Groom returns.

In other words, the Church.

Though the Church age was not explicitly revealed in the Old Testament, there are hints.  Daniel described the 70 weeks decreed for the Jews as broken into two parts, with a definite but non-explained space between the first 483 years and the last seven years.  Amos, also vaguely alludes to a time after David's tent was destroyed by God, but before God "raises up the tent of David, which has fallen down." (Amos 9:9-11)

We also see the this mysterious gap in the feasts of Israel (which, by the way, are called "rehearsals" in the Hebrew language in Leviticus 23: The rehearsal in question is the festival of Shavuot-- the holiday in the middle of the summer, smack dab between the three spring festivals (which were a shadow of Jesus first coming (Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the feast of first fruits) and the three fall festivals, that foreshadow the Second Coming. (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles).

Shavuot, in which God commands that leavened bread be baked and waved together with the unleavened before the alter.  Shavuot, which in Greek just happens to be Pentecost, the day on which the Church was born.

Jew and Gentile together.  A foreshadowing of the Church.

As the Church, we await that final prophesied transportation of the Church described in I Corinthians 15.

The Rapture.

Intriguingly, there is one place in the Old Testament that we just might see the Rapture:

"Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past." (Isaiah 26:20)

Is this a Rapture verse? 

Some say no, because the Church is unrevealed in the Old Testament.  True Dat.  Not revealed.  But there are hints.

And I think this is one of them.  First of all, God beckons His people to come "until the indignation is past"-- indignation meaning wrath, abhorrence, or anger.  His people are to come in order to be hidden away from wrath. 

And He specifically beckons "His people" to come.

To quote Him, God says “come, my people”.  And Paul graciously defines “my people” for us (quoting Hosea):

"As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.”

These people, "my people" (before David's fallen tent is rebuilt), is the Church.  And they are beloved.

And this is where it gets interesting.

When God tells "my people"  to come and hide themselves till the indignation is past, the word translated hide is the Hebrew word Chavah, from the root word Chavab.

The root word Chavab, translated to hide, comes from a root word that means to love fervently or cherish. This kind of brings to mind the bridal chamber, the Old Testament version of the honeymoon.

The time set aside for the bride to hide herself away with her groom. 

It’s the only conceivable context in which loving and being hidden away come together.

From an eschatological perspective, the seven year period, after the Rapture, and before (as described in Psalm 45) the Groom girds His sword on this thigh to go out and put the nations under His feet.

And we’ll be there. 

Maybe we can get the Dixie Cups to do a remake: Going to the Bunker.

Nah. Just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: A Tale of Two Sinners

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