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Count Your Blessings

Part 13


God has shared a secret with us. In Ephesians 1:9-10, God is credited with

having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, good pleasure which he planned in him, with a view to the dispensation of the fulness of times, to head up all things in Christ, those above the heavens and those on the earth, [Eph 1:9-10]

God has with “all wisdom and thoughtfulness” made a mystery known. The mystery is not something previously revealed, but is something which Paul reveals in the epistle to the Ephesians.

if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which has been given to me for you, namely that by revelation he made the mystery known to me, as I wrote before briefly, in the light of which by reading you can appreciate my understanding of the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to other generations, to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by spirit, that the Gentiles should be joint heirs and a joint body, and joint partakers of his promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I have become a minister by the gift of the grace of God which was given to me by the exertion of his power, [Eph 3:2-3:7]

The basis of the mystery is that the Gentiles are heirs to blessings in Christ not made known to men in other generations, but revealed for the first time in Ephesians. The Gentiles are joint heirs and do not need to become associated with Israel, and was previously the case, e.g. in Rom 11:17 where the Gentiles are grafted in to the olive tree which represents Israel. As Colossians tells us, the Jews are equal with the Gentiles in this dispensation:

where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free man, but Christ, who is all and in all. [Col 3:11]

However, this dispensation does not permanently replace Israel's calling. That would leave a vast amount of prophesy in a dead-end street, e.g.

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. [Jer 31:31]

Moreover, Israel's national blindness, which coincides with salvation being sent to the Gentiles, is temporary. Just before Paul said that

The salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, [Acts 28:28]

he spoke Acts 28:26-27 (which quotes Isaiah 6:9-10):

‘Go to this people and say,
«You will definitely hear
But certainly not understand,
And you will definitely see
But certainly not perceive,
For the heart of this people has become obtuse,
And with their ears they hear in a dull way,
And they have closed their eyes,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And repent,
And I would heal them.»’ [Acts 28:26-27]

When Isaiah was commissioned to announce this prophesy, he must have been very disturbed. His first thought was when this condition of his people would end. He asked the Lord,

For how long is it, Lord? [Is 6:11]

The answer is until a lot of tribulation in the land, described in Isaiah 6:11-13 but the point being made here is that Israel's blindness is temporary.

Hosea confirms that the people who are at some time (now!) not God's people, will become God's people:

And the number of the sons of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured and cannot be counted, and it will come to pass that in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people’, it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living GOD.’ [Hos 1:10]

So Israel has a calling, and will become God's people, but the Gentiles also have a calling, and a very high one at that, and do not need to seek incorporation into or supplanting of Israel's calling.

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