September 17, 2013

The greatest mystery

Of all books, mysteries are my favorite. I’m drawn into the story by the unknowable, and keep reading because of the unraveling. I don’t want to know the ending until the ending, and prefer that any clues offered are dark and hidden. As today’s devotional reading says, I get tired of the known and the knowable. There is something about a mystery that holds my attention.

Joseph Parker (1800s) writes that people go to extremes regarding God. Because He is unknown to them, they say He is unknowable, in effect an effort to destroy Him. This is like saying a mystery has no solution.

To say God is beyond us was likely not the motivation of Elihu as he tried to reason with wise old Job. He wanted Job, who claimed to know God, to see that he must not pridefully presume such a thing. He declared…

Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. (Job 36:26)

Perhaps Elihu was thinking about the mystery of God, the fact that we know so very little and cannot predict His intentions or actions. Perhaps he was saying that the human mind is weak and unable when it comes to figuring out the Almighty and we should never presume to do so. Whatever he intended, it is true that God is a mystery.

Joseph Parker also speaks of the darkness surrounding the mystery of God. He says “God hides himself, most often in the light; he touches the soul in the gloom and vastness of night, and the soul, being true in its intent and wish, answers the touch without a shudder or a blush…. God does not come through human argument, a flash of human wit, a sudden and audacious answer to an infinite enigma. His path is through the pathless darkness—without a footprint to show where he stepped; through the forest of the night he comes, and when he comes the brightness is all within!”

The rest of this engaging devotional speaks of God as unknown and unknowable, one who “cannot be chained as a prisoner of logic or delivered into the custody of a theological proposition.” He says shame on those who try to set Him within the points of the compass or robe Him in cloth of their own weaving.

Yet even as Parker and all who believe in Christ know that God is a mystery, we also know that we can know Him. He makes Himself known to us, speaks to us, and becomes our companion. Perhaps that is a greater mystery that who He is!

Before He was crucified, Jesus prayed for those who follow Him. He began His prayer by lifting His eyes to heaven and saying, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (John 17:1–2) Then He added the most remarkable definition …

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Job knew God. The disciples knew God. I know God. This is utterly amazing, a mystery unfathomable, a brightness in the dark and the joy of my life, the joy of every life who has been given the same knowing through saving faith in Jesus Christ.

A friend once told me it takes a moment to be reborn into the kingdom of God; then we spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out what happened. I’m still reading and completely intrigued by that mystery.

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