Monday, 3 March 2014
…but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith… Romans 16:26
This thought continues from the previous verse which spoke of the “revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began.” It is this mystery which is now “made manifest.” What was concealed, is now revealed; what was hidden, is now openly seen; what was secret, is now made evident. This begs us to ask, “How was this accomplished?” And the answer is found in the Bible itself. It is “by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations.”
The Hebrew Scriptures were eventually translated into Greek, the main language of the empire at that time. Thus they were accessible to “all nations” because they could then be retranslated into regional dialects or surrounding languages very easily. What God had kept for so long among a small and almost isolated group of people in an obscure tongue was now ready to be “made known to all nations.” This Greek translation is known as the Septuagint (or LXX), and is the most quoted text of Jesus and the apostles.
But just as important as it was to have the Scriptures which testified to the coming Messiah and the work of God in Christ, it was just as important that he actually came in fulfillment of the prophetic word. Through His coming, those hidden mysteries which told of Him could be clearly understood. As Jesus said to the Jews of His day when speaking of their Scriptures (the body which comprises the Old Testament), “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39)
Everything within the Old Testament Scriptures testifies to the coming Christ and God’s plan of redemption in history. Everything now found in the New Testament Scriptures testifies to the accomplished work of Christ and God’s continued plan of redemption in history. It is all about Jesus. The mysteries have been made known and even those mysteries which are still future are explained in some part (such as the rapture of the church).
And all of this is “according to the commandment of the everlasting God.” It is God, timeless and eternal, who issued the decree that these things should be. In the Old Testament, He is called El Olam. He is eternal and unchanging and thus His commandments, when issued from eternity past, are eternally relevant. Nothing He has decreed can fail to transpire. The word He has given is breathed out within the framework of time and thus all things that occur in time happen in accord with the accomplishment of His word. Nothing is outside of His knowledge or control.
And the reason for the issuance of His word which is in accordance with His will is that it is “for obedience to the faith.” This thought ties us directly back to Romans 1:5 which said “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name.” The Scriptures are what testify to Christ and bring about “obedience to the faith.”
Before Christ came, there were five distinct dispensations: Innocence, Conscience, Government, Promise, and Law. The OT Scriptures came about under the dispensation of law and set up a temporary system of government until Faith was revealed. When Christ came and fulfilled the law, the plan of redemption moved from “obedience to the law” to “obedience to the faith.” As Paul says in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
This is where we stand and in our faith we are to be obedient. And Jesus is the object of that faith. It is the greatest act of grace we could imagine. And yet, far too often, we trade the grace of Jesus Christ for a return to the law. Let us not make such an error, but rest wholly in His finished work.
Life application: The commandment of the everlasting God is summed up in believing in the One whom He has sent. If we have this sure faith, then we are truly saved. It is a gift and it cannot be earned. Let us thank God for His wonderful, beautiful grace.
Heavenly Father… Thank You for having forgiven me for a lifetime of failure and of rejecting You. You pulled me out of the dirty pit, wiped my face clean, and allowed Your grace to flow around me like a warm blanket. You have granted me the righteousness of Your own Son and taken away my sin. How can I not praise You for the wondrous grace You have bestowed. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.