“…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel…”
The Jews of Jesus’ day were a bit nearsighted. In their minds, it was all about them! After Jesus fed the 5000, many of them recognized that this man had to be the great Prophet the Scriptures had foretold (Jn 6:14 cmp Ac 3:20-23). Their excitement about the Messiah, however, was based on a desire to have national Israel restored to its former glory because v. 15 says, “when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone ” This misunderstanding regarding Christ’s purpose in coming was so common among the Jews that even the disciples prior to Pentecost were asking, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Ac 1:6) But God had bigger plans!
God’s plan to build a glorious church made up of both Jews AND Gentiles was not a new idea, but it was a hidden one as our text in Ephesians reveals. God has the right to keep secrets! In fact, Pr 25:2 says it is tied to His glory. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter…” God further displayed His greatness in the mystery concerning the Gentiles by hiding it from Israel while also telling them long before that it would come to pass! In Is 49:6, as the Father foretells the work of the Son, He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” It was too small a thing for Christ to only be a Savior in Israel. God had bigger plans!
When the Holy Spirit began to dwell within the church following Pentecost, passages like Is 49 began to be understood by the apostles. In fact, Paul quoted it after the Jews at Antioch had rejected the gospel in Ac 13:46-47:
Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth. ’”
In the next verse, we find the response that should be on the heart of every child of God today. “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Ac 13:48) Rejoice with me today, believer, because God had bigger plans! He’s too great of a Savior to be limited to a small number! Praise God that He declares, “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Is 45:22) May we with joy and confidence go forth, proclaiming the word of God, knowing that He will make it effectual to redeem a people “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”! (Rev 5:9)