Why isn’t the Old Testament more specific about what the Messiah would do when He came to earth the first time? Why would God withhold information about the death, burial, resurrection, appearance to witnesses, ascension to Heaven, and return to earth of the Messiah from the Jewish people in the Hebrew Bible? Why would the double coming of Messiah (first coming followed by second coming) not be revealed in the Old Testament writings of the prophets?
We know from one of Paul’s letters to the Christians in Corinth that God placed a veil over the eyes of the Jewish people. Paul gave an example in 2 Corinthians 3 from the relationship Moses had with the people. Moses veiled his face so the people wouldn’t see the fading glory, which predicted the fading glory of the covenant God had made with them. Paul said the same was true centuries later — “But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts; but whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” The context is the old covenant and the new covenant
We know from Romans 9, 10 and 11 that God is not finished with Israel. Paul addressed Gentile Christians specifically in this part of chapter 11 — “For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written: ‘The Deliverer shall come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’ ‘This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
That helps us understand to some degree what God is doing with the Jewish people today, but there’s more to it–much more.
As Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 and 3, God also had a mystery for Satan and his evil empire. God didn’t let Satan know everything He was doing by sending Messiah Jesus to earth. Remember that Satan knew the Old Testament well. He quoted it when he tested Jesus in the wilderness. Satan would have known everything the Old Testament prophesied about the coming Messiah. Satan knew Jesus was the promised Messiah. Paul’s point in Ephesians is that the mystery God had kept hidden from the foundation of the world included what Jesus the Messiah would accomplish on the Cross and through His Resurrection.
The Apostle John wrote in his first letter — “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” It’s important that we understand why Jesus came to earth the first time. It was a vital part of His destroying the works of the devil.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 that, “even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Paul wrote in Ephesians 3 about the mystery (secret) that God gave Him to tell the world. “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to enlighten all people as to what the play of the mystery is which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; so that the multifaceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Notice that in both Ephesians 2 and 3 it is the “church,” the called-out assembly of saved saints made up of Jew and Gentile, that was the mystery God had kept hidden from Satan and his evil empire through the ages.
God’s keeping His eternal plan for Messiah Jesus a secret (a mystery) was specifically for Satan, but it had consequences for Israel as well. Thus, what we read in Romans.
One more thing with all of that as a background. Paul wrote this in 1 Corinthians 2 — “but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
The idea here is that the spiritual rulers of this age would not have crucified Jesus if they had understood what God had predestined before the ages began (His eternal plan). Satan brought about his own ultimate defeat when he manipulated Jews and Gentiles to crucify Messiah Jesus. That was part of God’s eternal plan. Keeping in mind that Jesus came to earth “to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8). How would Jesus do that? By dying and rising. Satan knew the Old Testament, but he didn’t know that because God had kept it a secret from him and Israel.
Jesus had to come to earth twice. That’s a stumbling block to Jews and I understand why from reading the Old Testament. There are some hints (types, shadows) in the OT, but nothing overt enough to reveal God’s eternal plan to Satan or humans. God purposely hid the death and resurrection of Messiah in the Old Testament so Satan wouldn’t figure out what was going on when Messiah Jesus came to earth the first time.
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