Tidings for Tuesday

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints. Colossians 1:26

Have you ever seen Clarence Larkin’s chart called Mountain Peaks of Prophecy? If not, Google it sometime. The chart provides an interesting explanation for some of the things that are presented to us by the Old Testament prophets. As they looked into the future that the Holy Spirit showed them, their view was like that of a man looking across a range of mountains, in which he could see the mountain tops but not the valleys between the mountains. They could see many of the great events that were to come, such as the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus, and His death on the cross, and many of the end-time events. However, there were critical valleys that those prophets were unable to detect, let alone peer into. The chart shows a great valley between the resurrection of Christ and Christ’s return to the Mount of Olives. This valley, referred to as the valley of the church age, was something that the prophets knew nothing about. This particular valley is the mystery that Paul is referring to in today’s text.

Old Testament prophets were Israelites, and a period of God’s dealings primarily with the Gentiles would have made no sense to them. There was no reason for God to reveal that period of the future to them. But when the Jews rejected their Messiah, there came a dispensation that differed radically from what the Old Testament saints knew and appreciated. Even Peter, before his experience with Cornelius, had difficulty understanding this mystery. From our vantage point, it is all very apparent, but what a shock it must have been for the apostles and early Jewish Christians. All of the laws and ordinances, and the reliance on the Aaronic priesthood was set aside. The new reality of justification by faith in the finished work of Christ was such a radical change in direction that, for decades, the early Assemblies had to battle the efforts of those who demanded that the elements of the Jews’ religion must be observed. They had a struggle to forget the weak and beggarly elements of a system that worked through a restricted class of priests and to accept the new order in which each believer is indwelt by the Holy spirit and is enabled to function as a priest.

The mystery that Paul unfolded as he planted Assemblies has been largely lost on professing Christendom today. Most denominations, and even some groups that would call themselves Assemblies, have reverted to the class system of priests. They elevate certain people to function according to the gifts God gave to His Assemblies. This practice negates the Holy Spirit’s removal of the limits of the old economy and returns those groups to the bondage and clericy of the law.

The mystery of this age of grace brings us not only into liberty, but also into the fulness of God’s purpose for His people. – Jim MacIntosh

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