Christ Was Prophesied in Mystery but Revealed in Glory

In the closing to his letter to the believers in Rome (Romans 16:25-27), the apostle Paul wrote that God’s Messiah had been prophesied in mysterious fashion only to be finally revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.  That is, the promises about God’s Son, which had been enigmatic when given, were made clear when fulfilled.

We do not find in the Old Testament prophecies that read like this:  “There will be a son of a carpenter named Jesus who will do miracles, be rejected by the chief priests of Israel and crucified Pontius Pilate and the Romans, and then raised from the dead on the third day.”  The prophets did not prophesy in this way.  Rather, the prophets’ words were like puzzle pieces – a gigantic riddle – whose answer only became apparent once the prophecies were fulfilled.

For a specific example, see Divergent Old Testament Prophecies Converge in Jesus of Nazareth

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

How Jesus and the Scriptures Prophesied the Resurrection

Here’s an instance where Jesus prophesied His resurrection:

John 2:18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”
John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
John 2:20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
John 2:21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
John 2:22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Jesus was promising His resurrection in the same cryptic way that the Old Testament had.  For example, consider this from Psalms:

Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.

Or this one from Moses:

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

Or even this one from Psalm 2, Isaiah 55, and Psalm 16 – all framed by the book of Acts:

Acts 13:32 “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers,
Acts 13:33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’
Acts 13:34 “As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.’
Acts 13:35 “Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’

The promises of Messiah’s resurrection were thus made in riddle-like fashion.  Christ is thus “the mystery of God” revealed.

The two things to notice in the passage from John at the top of this post are 1) that, like the Old Testament, the New Testament prophesied Christ’s resurrection in cryptic terms, and 2) Jesus spoke like the prophets of old.  He adopted their language and thought as they thought.  After all, he was himself a prophet.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

That Messiah Was a Prophet Meant He Had to Die; That He Was a King Meant He Had to Live

That the Messiah was to be a prophet meant that he had to die, because, as Jesus said, it seemed impossible that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem (Luke 13:33).  It was the typical fate of the prophets to be persecuted and killed (Matthew 5:12; Luke 11:49; Acts 7:52).

However, Messiah was also to be a great king for Israel.  How could a king reign if he was dead?  Or how could his kingdom be glorious if it was to end in violent death?

This was a riddle, a conundrum.  In the Scriptures such puzzles are called “mysteries” or “hidden things.”

The answer to the riddle is, of course, apparent to us who live on this side of the resurrection of Christ.  Jesus served as a prophet until He was murdered and then, resuming His prophetic ministry at His resurrection, began to reign as King also.  Never to die again, this would be the most glorious kingdom of all, for it would never end!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Creation – God = the World

The world equals creation minus God.

This is how the Bible uses the term “world” in verses such as James 4:4 and 1 John 2:15-17.  That is, worldly thinking is to look around and perceive life as if God is not present.  The world’s defining characteristic is its cold shoulder toward God.  Or more like its back is toward God.

So, “the world” means life without God.  Or you could say life without faith.  It’s therefore more accurate to call it “existence” than to call it “life.”

Even Christians, while professing a faith in God, often live as if God were absent from creation (see Professing Christian, Practicing Atheist).

We are to be “in the world and not of it.”  (This expression is not found in the Bible, but it is trustworthy.)

The world is subject to the kingdom of God which is in our midst (Revelation 11:15).  Thus when we trust and obey Christ we are obeying a higher power while living in the midst of the world.

Let us therefore turn from the dominion of the world (that is, the dominion of Satan) and turn to the dominion of Christ: Acts 26:15-18.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

An Apparent Contradiction in Scripture Is Never an Actual Contradiction

Some apparent contradictions in Scripture are a result of the vagaries of assembling scores of texts written by dozens of authors, few of whom had contact with each other, and whose original manuscripts were copied and transmitted by many hands over the course of millennia.  That we might find some discrepancies on minor matters is to be expected.  I believe were we to know all the details involved, however, we could reconcile even such details.  But these are not the apparent biblical contradictions about which I want to speak.

A riddle is an apparent contradiction.  And the Bible’s prophecies of messiah are often given in riddle-like fashion.  For example, Psalm 118:22 says that the rejected stone will be the chief cornerstone.  This, of course, does not make sense.  But rather than being a nonsensical statement, it’s a riddle which awaits explanation.  Or, as the New Testament writers would put it, a mystery which awaits revelation.  Jesus was, of course, the stone that was rejected…and who became the chief cornerstone.  He was rejected in the flesh…and glorified in the spirit.  See  Matthew 21:33-46 where Jesus addresses Psalm 118:22…and confounds the Pharisees, who were rejecting Him.

Another example of such an apparent contradiction is Psalm 110:1 in which David’s descendant is called his heir.  How can one’s child be considered one’s superior (or elder)?  Again, the answer was Jesus: the Messiah of Israel.  He was David’s descendant according to the flesh (that is, by human birth) but David’s superior according to the spirit through His resurrection from the dead.  See Matthew 22:41-46 where Jesus points out this riddle and stumps the Pharisees with it.

Apparent contradictions are at the heart of messianic prophecy because the unifying theme of that prophecy is the suffering and glory of Messiah.  Suffering and glory, of course, are not naturally compatible.  We don’t usually think of them at the same time.  And indeed that’s the resolution of the tension – the suffering and the glory do not occur at the same time.  Messiah’s sufferings precede His glories.  His sufferings come when He’s on earth, in the flesh, before He dies.  His glories come when He’s in heaven, in the spirit, after He’s raised from the dead.

God cannot lie.  This means He cannot contradict Himself.  He can’t say that something is true and not true at the same time and in the same way.

Therefore, recognize that when you see an apparent contradiction in the Bible, know it’s not actual.  And when you see it, recognize that it’s a promise of revelation.  That is,  as Jesus said, “nothing is hidden except to be revealed; nothing has been kept secret except that it might come to light.”

For more on biblical riddles see to the right under Categories “Riddles.”

For more on Messiah’s sufferings and glories see to the right under Categories “Suffering and Glory” – especially the post The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ – His Suffering and Glory.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Index to Posts on Riddles

This index is not complete.  To find more posts on this subject, do a search on the site for “riddle” (without, of course, the quotation marks).  Recognize, however, that some of the posts found in this way may only mention riddle in a peripheral way and/or be redundant to what you read here.

Samson’s Riddle

Our David

Out of the Eater Came Something to Eat

The Old Testament Is a Riddle to Which the New Testament Is the Answer

The New Testament Is a Riddle to Which the Old Testament Is the Answer

The Son of David and the Son of God

2 Samuel 7:12-14

What Jesus Taught Peter About the Bible

UPDATE:  I’ve since created a “Category” for these posts.  Look to the right in the sidebar for the category “Riddles.”  That will provide a more comprehensive and up-to-date list than this index; thus this index will no longer be updated.  Note, however, that the instruction above about a blog search on “riddle” is still useful as the category will not capture every single post that references riddles.

2 Samuel 7:12-14

2 Samuel 7:12-14 says that David’s son will be God’s son.  How can he be both?

He was David’s son according to the flesh, and God’s Son according to His resurrection from the dead.  So says Paul in Romans 1:3-4, in what was probably a repetition of an early church confession, or portion thereof.

The Bible contains many such riddles* about messiah.  Thus messiah’s coming was prophesied in mystery, but revealed by the demonstration of reality (Romans 16:25-27).

* – Do a search on this site for “riddle” and you will see other examples of how the messiah was prophesied in riddles.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The Son of David and the Son of God

Jesus is both the son of David and the Son of God.

In the flesh, Jesus is the son of David.  David was a man of flesh.  David’s descendants would therefore be flesh.

In the spirit, Jesus is the Son of God.  When He was raised from the dead, He was birthed from the dead.  For this reason He is called the “son” of God because God sired Him, and by the resurrection did He do so.  For this reason also, Jesus is called the firstborn of the dead (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).

The “son of David” is an earthly identity and the “Son of God” is a heavenly identity.  This is the answer to the riddle that Jesus posed to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-46.  Messiah could not be both David’s descendant and David’s Lord…but the resurrection allowed Jesus to hold both identities.  David’s descendant had to become something else in order to become David’s Lord.  That something else was the resurrection of Christ.  Through it, Jesus of Nazareth became the resurrected-from-the-dead supreme authority of heaven and earth (Acts 2:34-36).

Son of David – Son of God.  Humanity – Deity.  Flesh – Spirit.  Then – Now.

The days of His flesh are no more (2 Corinthians 5:16).  We know Him now in the spirit.

Walking in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh

Practicing the Presence of Christ

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ Changed Everything

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

What Jesus Taught Peter About the Bible

When Jesus was crucified and buried, His disciples became distressed, downcast, and scattered.  Even those closest to Him – His apostles – had lost all hope.

Jesus’ resurrection changed all that.  Not only was hope profoundly renewed, but Jesus explained to His followers – including Peter – how everything that had happened, and that was happening, had been prophesied long ahead of time in the Scriptures.  Read Luke 24 to see how Jesus opened the their eyes (especially verses 25-27, 31-32, and 44-48).

Peter passed on this understanding in 1 Peter 1:10-12.  He also bore witness to it in Acts 3:22-24 and Acts 10:43.

Specifically, in Acts 2:25-28 where he is quoting Psalm 16:8-11, we see Peter passing on the understanding of how David had written Psalm 16 with an eye toward the coming Messiah.  Note especially Acts 2:30 which recalled 2 Samuel 7:12-13.   Then consider Acts 2:31 in light of 1 Peter 1:10-12 and 2 Samuel 7:19.  (Note also Peter’s specific reference to Samuel in Acts 3:24.)  David was one of those prophets to whom the Holy Spirit had revealed that what was being inspired to be written about the Messiah, was being inspired for distant and future generations (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4).

Of course, even more prominent in 1st-century Jewish thought about the Messiah than Psalm 16 was Psalm 110.  Peter declared this prophecy to have been fulfilled in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (Acts 2:24-32).  Then in Acts 2:33 Peter uses the phrase “right hand of God” which comes from Psalm 110 – widely considered in that day to be a messianic prophecy.  You may recall that Jesus had taught on Psalm 110 before His resurrection without giving the answer to the riddle (or mystery, if you prefer) He had raised by invoking it the way He did ( see Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44 for the story).  Peter learned after the resurrection – and we now know – that resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God was the answer to the riddle that the Pharisees could not give.  David could call Jesus both “son” and “Lord” because according to the flesh Jesus was David’s son, but according to the spirit Jesus would be David’s Lord (Romans 14:9; Acts 2:34-36; and When Jesus Became Lord).  Jesus so taught Peter and the others that it solved the riddle and removed all uncertainty for them.

Jesus also taught Peter and the other disciples that the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that they testify about the Christ (John 5:39, 46 and 2 Timothy 3:14-17, in addition to the Luke 24 passages mentioned above).  Peter subsequently made clear to everyone in 2 Peter 1:17-21 that his eyewitness experience of Jesus was best understood through the Scriptures – and the same Holy Spirit who had inspired them.

If we’re not reading the Scriptures to learn about Christ…we’re missing the whole point.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

The New Testament Is a Riddle to Which the Old Testament Is the Answer

Just as the Old Testament is a riddle to which the New Testament is the answer (this was the subject of yesterday’s post), so the New Testament is a riddle…to which the Old Testament is the answer.

Why do I say this?  Because even though the New Testament is a bright and clear revelation of the Messiah, it is also a mystery all its own.  Even the book of the New Testament that begins with the words “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” is itself a mystery.  Thus, the New Testament is both revelation and mystery.

If the New Testament is where you find the answer to the riddle of the Old Testament, where can we find the answer to the riddle of the New Testament?  In the Old Testament.

Again, just taking the book of Revelation as an example, there is hardly a phrase of its imagery that wasn’t first uttered and written by the prophets of the Old Testament.  Thus God, in His manifold wisdom, has so designed it that each testament is necessary to decode the other.  To God be the glory!

What, by the way, is the specific answer to the mystery or riddle of the New Testament?  That the Messiah was…God.  This is why the institutional church missed the Second Coming.  They were looking for Jesus in the flesh and He came instead as God.  (For explanation of this, see Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again.)  How does the Old Testament reveal that the Messiah was God?  In passages such as Isaiah 9:6-7 where the Messiah is called the “Son” and also “God” and “Father.”

Thus as the New Testament solved the riddle of the Old Testament by declaring Jesus as the Messiah, so the Old Testament solves the riddle of the New Testament by revealing the Messiah to be God -albeit in a way that could only be discerned once New Testament truths had been revealed.  To God be the glory!

No one suspected that Jesus might be God when He was walking the roads of Judea.  At that time, He did not even want word to spread that He was the Messiah, much less God.  God’s revelation of Himself comes to us in stages lest we be blinded by sudden light (Proverbs 4:18 and Psalm 97:11).  He “kept us in the cleft of the rock and covered us with His hand while His glory passed by” (see Exodus 33:21-23).  From Acts to Revelation, Jesus was declared the Messiah – the Son of God.  There were only hints that He might be more.  Once the kingdom had come, however, He could fully reveal Himself to us.  The Second Coming made Isaiah 9:6-7 clear in the same way that the resurrection had made the riddle of Matthew 22:41-46 clear.  Praise be to our Creator!  There is none like Him.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

GICNAT

The Old Testament Is a Riddle to Which the New Testament Is the Answer

God never intended that the Old Testament should present a clear and unambiguous portrait of the Messiah and the age to come.  On the contrary, God presented it as a mystery or riddle.  The mystery would be revealed (that is, the riddle would be solved or answered) not on humanity’s timetable but on God’s.  Thus during His earthly ministry Jesus downplayed the fact that He was the Messiah.  This fact was only trumpeted once He was raised from the dead and He ascended into heaven. That was God’s timing for revelation.  As Jesus said, “Nothing is hidden, except to be revealed” (Mark 4:22).  God keeps something hidden, until it’s time to reveal it.

The Bible uses the word mystery more often than it uses the word riddle, but their meaning and purpose is the same from His point of view.

For more on riddles in the Bible see Our David or Samson’s Riddle.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

GICNAT

Out of the Eater Came Something to Eat

Out of the eater came something to eat,

          And out of the harsh came something sweet.  

This is, of course, a play on Samson’s riddle (Judges 14:14).  This riddle gives a pattern which, while it had specific and limited meaning in Samson’s day, has far greater import for the ages.  This is because the pattern speaks to the greatest issue a human being will ever face: death.

Death is the “eater” who with insatiable lust was consuming every human being.  Through the work of Jesus Christ, the monster of death was required to give up all that it had consumed.  The dead now live in heaven with God.  The Father thus feasts upon the sight of His children around His table (thus “out of the eater came something to eat”).  Therefore also, out of the harshness of death came the sweetness of eternal life.

You and I do not need to be afraid of being consumed by death.  Jesus Christ has transformed it into a gateway that leads to life everlasting.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

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Our David

David is one of the more well-known types of Christ.  Thus Jesus is our greater David.

David was a man after God’s heart.  Jesus was God’s heart.

David was anointed by Samuel.  Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit.

David was king of Israel.  Jesus is King of the Universe.

David’s throne was in Mount Zion, in Jerusalem.  Jesus’ throne is in Mount Zion, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

David was zealous for God.  Jesus’ zeal for God consumed Him.

David sought to build God a house.  Jesus built God a house.

There were challenges to David’s rule.  Such challenges always failed.  There are challenges to Jesus’ rule.  Such challenges will always fail.

David took his lineage from Abraham seriously.  Jesus took His lineage from David seriously.  And from Abraham as well.

Messiah was descended from David but also would be David’s lord – a riddle which Jesus loved to pose to His rabbinical antagonists.

David was not just a type of Christ, he was a physical ancestor of Christ.  Everyone expected Israel’s Messiah to be reminiscent of David.  The crucifixion was thus a stumbling block, but the resurrection surpassed all expectations – and solved the riddle.

The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in biblical terms.

Samson’s Riddle

Samson’s riddle spoke of Jesus Christ in a number of ways.

You recall the riddle:  “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.”  Certainly what came out of the great and awesome Creator of the universe was the Bread of Life Himself.  And what came out the Almighty King of the universe was Someone sweet: gentle and humble in heart.  You could even say that it was from the carcass of the Lion of the tribe of Judah that the nations will feed themselves for eternity for He is their salvation.

The story in Judges says that Samson’s companions could not tell the riddle in three days.  Neither did anyone know of Jesus’ resurrection until it happened after three days.  Neither the riddle of Samson nor the riddle of Christ was solved by anyone who heard it – they had to be told the answer by the only one who knew it.

Consider also that Samson’s riddle itself was a type of the mystery of the gospel.  Both gave clues, both had only one solution, both were eventually revealed.  Of course, the gospel was a far more extensive and intricate riddle, woven throughout the Old Testament scriptures, but Samson’s riddle paved the way.  And Samson’s story itself was part of the Old Testament’s foreshadowing for he likewise killed more of God’s enemies in his death than he had in his life.

In our relationship with God, we sometimes face a paradox, a riddle, a mystery in life.  It is okay for us to be perplexed at such times, but we should never despair.  In due time we shall reap an understanding and God will reveal Himself strong…and sweet.

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