Veiled Mysteries: Understanding That We Won’t Always Understand
Regardless of where you’re at in your journey with God, it is likely that you still have many unanswered questions. Whether you’re a biblical novice or seasoned scholar, we all have unanswered questions. The old adage, “God works in mysterious ways” is very true. He’s a tough nut to crack. And despite the most thorough investigation of the scriptures, we can still be left wondering. What’s interesting about “understanding” is that God is the only One who can grant insight into His Word. He has the providential ability to both veil it and reveal it.
I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight, (Luke 10:21, KJV).
In Proverbs we are exhorted to get wisdom and understanding (see Proverbs 4:7). In the Gospels Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and tells them it’s the Father’s good will and pleasure to reveal the secrets of the kingdom to babes. Jesus opens blind eyes not only physically, but spiritually when He walks on the road with two men following His resurrection and reveals His prophetic fulfillment (see Luke 24:32-49). Because He is the living Word of God, He alone is able to reveal it in Truth. But that doesn’t mean He’s obligated to do so at our whim. God is not obligated to our curiosities, although He many times piques them. There are things He chooses not to reveal or disclose. And He tells us there are several reasons why:
• It is simply not for us to know. It is utterly clandestine (see Acts 1:7).
• We will be held accountable for the knowledge we have in Him, for which He is obligated to judge us (see Romans 2:13-16). If He knows we can’t handle that or steward it wisely, He will withhold it accordingly, or even take it away (see Mark 4:23-25 and Matthew 25:29). Not every servant receives the same number of talents. They are given according to that servant’s ability (see Matthew 25:15). Sometimes it’s better that we don’t know. This is where our faith must mature. God wants us to grow into those things He reveals so we can better steward that revelation appropriately.
• When He is the One piquing our curiosities, it’s because He desires that we seek Him for further understanding. There’s something He wants to reveal and teach us. Sometimes the knowledge He wants to give us comes by invitation only. Dreams, visions, and prophetic utterances (when they are genuine) should lead us to seek His face — not to run headlong and haphazardly.
• God has been known to reveal things, even to His prophets, and then ask them, “What do you see?” And they would tell Him, but without any understanding. God had to reveal it to them, and that does not come by speculative assumption. It comes with humbly seeking His face for the true revelation of what He’s chosen to speak or show. Until we are willing to do that, we are vulnerable to misinterpretation and misunderstanding, which can inevitably lead to deception because we failed to seek God.
In this post we’re going to discuss the veiled mysteries of God’s Word, our lack of understanding, and the appropriate response to those things God chooses not to reveal, whether whole or in part. It’s important to know and understand that we’re not always going to understand. That’s to be expected. And many times, that’s precisely the way God wants it, and it’s to our advantage. There is a great moral, ethical, and spiritual responsibility that comes with depth of knowledge.
Today there is a dangerous pattern of speculation in the Body of Christ. The reason I’m pointing this out, is because it’s one way we can open doors to deception. Where there is a lack of understanding, people are quick to assume and speculate, even forming doctrines and theologies around things that are unclear. This is true of leaders as well as laymen. This is true in instances pertaining to scripture as well as prophetic utterances.
When we are able to come to terms with our lack of understanding or knowledge, being completely at peace in knowing that His omniscience is alone sufficient, that is a place of maturity in Christ that enables our faith to transcend any personal lack of knowledge we might have. Knowing that God knows brings rest and peace in a world of confusion, and in those areas where the Word of God is ambiguous or unclear to us. When we are able to say, “I don’t know,” and yet maintain a settled, centered deep-seated peace, that is a mark of spiritual maturity and humility. That is truly where childlike faith begins. And that is the response for which God is looking and is pleased. But when we begin to assume instead of seek His face; when we begin to speculate instead of surrender; when we formulate doctrines and theologies based on our own hypotheses — we’re headed for trouble.
It really is okay to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand”. These are respectable answers, and they are ones God will always honor.
The Knowledge of God
God has always taught us the higher order of things through parables and prophetic revelations (see Mark 4:10-13). His Word is full of them, both in the Old and New Testament. He knows this is the best way to bring it down to our level. God’s ways and eternal order are beyond our comprehension. It’s akin to trying to explain physics to a three-year old. It’s not worth trying because they don’t have a grid for that. So even if He were to give us the information we desire, that doesn’t mean we’re able to comprehend it or apply it correctly. God always expects that we learn to walk in what we know. True knowledge is the ability to practice His Word — not merely rehearse it verbally (see James 1:22-25). Like children who are utterly dependent upon their parents to maintain the order of their lives and their home, we are also called to walk by childlike faith, enter God’s rest, and trust Him wholeheartedly. There is a lot God assumes responsibility toward within those things He has chosen not to reveal to mankind. It’s simply not for us to know, and it’s not something God expects us to assume responsibility toward, because knowledge always comes with responsibility. And that is why teachers will be held to a stricter judgment (see James 3:1).
With that said, God does not want His children ignorant. He has been incredibly generous with His revealed Word in the scriptures. We are instructed to get knowledge, and that exhortation is repeated well throughout the bible. But it’s not merely for the sake of knowledge that we are inclined to seek it or get it. The purpose of knowledge is to know God. Above all things, God wants us to know Him. He wants us to understand His ways. That does not equate with having all the knowledge He has, or necessarily understanding everything, because His wisdom is utterly fathomless. He declares that His ways are past finding out. Yet God invites us to seek His face and ask of Him that we might learn of Him, and that He might reveal great and mighty things we do not know (see Matthew 28:11-14 and Jeremiah 33:3). These are all biblical promises — both Old and New covenant. However, we must understand that what He reveals is entirely at His discretion, and that He is not obligated to our curiosities.
We are also told that He reveals things in part — not in whole (see 1 Corinthians 13:9-13). Paul says that we now see through a glass darkly, but there will come a time when we will see face to face. That is a powerful statement, and it’s one that reveals our limitations as human beings in a fallen and finite world. Relating to God as He is, being completely perfect, eternal, holy, and utterly wise beyond imagination, is something we can’t comprehend. What little He has revealed to us is indeed very small when compared to the immeasurable knowledge He actually possesses.
What God truly desires above all else is that we know Him. That is what having the knowledge of God is all about (see Ephesians 1:17 and 2 Corinthians 4:6 & 10:5). Having the knowledge of God does not necessarily mean knowing exactly what He knows. It means we have the knowledge of who He is. We have an intimate understanding of His Person through personal relationship with Him. That intimacy is something that cannot compare with all the knowledge in the world. With that said, many Christians the world over have never read a Bible, yet they possess such an incredible and intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ that puts most learned biblical scholars to shame. They are entirely and utterly reliant upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, whom they fellowship with and walk in moment by moment — because their very lives depend upon it. That kind of intimacy with Christ and His Holy Spirit is the knowledge of God we should all have. That is the knowledge for which we should seek and hunger. That is the knowledge of God every believer is called to possess. That is the knowledge that will change the world. When you know Jesus personally, despite any lack of understanding you may have biblically, or any possible gaps in your theology, that is where the Gospel of Christ bursts forth with life-changing power, because you’re no longer limited to your own understanding. He transcends that. He becomes that understanding for you, as the One who knows all things.
Those with the greatest faith in this world are not those who have gone to seminary or bible college. They are not those with degrees. They are those who know Jesus intimately. There is absolutely NOTHING that will strengthen your faith like knowing Christ Jesus intimately.
Pharisees vs. Babes
I find it amazing how many times the religious elite (the Pharisees and Saducees) had it absolutely wrong. On numerous accounts Christ called them to the carpet for correction — which was often vehement. They had some flaming discussions. Yet those who were unlearned, uneducated, and even illiterate, He blessed them with the knowledge of Him and a faith that transcended any limitations of their scriptural understanding.
Paul gloated in that He was a “pharisee of the pharisees”. He was one of the most learned men alive at that time; being well-respected and revered among his peers. Yet he considered it dung that He might know Christ. Again, the true knowledge of God is to know Christ Jesus.
If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead, (Philippians 3:4-11, KJV).
Seeking Second-Hand Knowledge
It is good to seek God and desire to understand His Word. I’ve done that ever since I’ve known Him. And He was (and still is) the One who generates that desire. But how we go about gaining that knowledge is critical, because He alone is our Teacher. As one who teaches His Word, it is always with the exhortation to be Berean, taking everything back to scripture. Christ is our Teacher. And there is no substitute. Christ had to teach me how to be taught. Since the beginning He would not allow me to follow man. There are many names in the Christian arena. But Christ never allowed me to follow them. Instead He called me into His Word, under His wing, and into His Holy of Holies where I spent hours upon hours in prayer, seeking Him through His Word. That is what every disciple should do, and that is the method I teach, which is why my bible studies don’t spoon feed the student. They require “scriptural excavation”. To this very day, people mention names to me, and although I may have heard of them, I don’t often know anything about them at all. But I do know Jesus. And I’m okay with that. There have been rare times when God would lead me to a book or other resource, and when He did it always proved to be life-changing for me. The anointing of His Spirit does rest upon specific works of man. However, those men are not who we are to follow. We follow Christ.
When we seek God through man we need to understand that they become a mediator. We are learning second-hand information that has many times been learned second-hand by those who teach it. That’s a pattern that has proven to be very dangerous in the Body of Christ today. Very few are seeking God in His Word for themselves or in His presence. The Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, which is where His Word and His presence dwell, are not places frequented by many. Instead, believers seek God by Googling information, attending conferences, going to bible studies, reading books, listening to sermons, and even going to seminary. None of those things are wrong, so long as they are led of His Spirit to do so. But we understand that these things are not the end of all spiritual knowledge or truth. True knowledge only begins with Christ and can only be granted by Him, through His Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth. When He becomes your Teacher, and you solely rely on Him, those other things presented by man are at the discretion of His Spirit, and you become Berean in your biblical practice and approach. You’re no longer moved by what man says or does, or proclaims to be true. When Christ becomes your bread, sitting in the pew on Sunday and listening to a sermon second hand becomes like eating stale leftovers. Any knowledge you receive from man should always be immediately sifted by scripture in light of God’s Spirit. There is a lot that sounds good. But when it’s examined in light of scripture, it often fails the test.
There’s nothing wrong with being a babe in Christ. However, He does call us to mature. He desires that we grow up in Him, becoming more like Him. That is the goal of every believer — to be transformed into the image of Christ, and able to handle the meat of His Word with integrity, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. In doing so, error and deception are both exposed and expelled.
Childlike Faith & Trust vs. the Age of Information
As believers we are children who belong to a holy God, a heavenly Father who has always been, presently is, and always shall be. Everything we see and know, or have any ability to discern, was created by Him. We are His creation and totally subject to Him, His laws, and the realm of His kingdom which is eternal.
That puts things in perspective very quickly. We live in an age of explosive knowledge. Man has made discoveries that give us powers we should not have. We tamper with DNA, clone animals, and abort babies. There are fearsome things we can do that give us an edge into those realms only God should govern. We have a lust for knowledge and the power that comes with it. Yet we lack the fear of God in handling it appropriately. We live in the information age, where we are taught to seek and amass knowledge. Higher education is exalted, and we are instructed to learn. We are taught to investigate, research, and gain as much knowledge for ourselves as humanly possible. Yet we lack the humility required to submit ourselves to the One who authorizes the use of that power.
Childlike faith is not something with which we are comfortable. It makes us itch. It makes us squirm. We want the control, the power, and the ability to find out mysteries, solve problems, discover secrets, and explain the inexplicable. We will even go so far as to create theories, hypotheses, and call it “truth”. I’m convinced that this same mindset has bled over into our spiritual lives and how we relate to God. And this is what it looks like: spiritual speculations and assumptions become theological theories by which we order our spiritual lives and relate to God. Instead of embracing child-like faith, we embrace the error of our own limited understanding.
God is not mocked. He doesn’t wink at this — not one bit. In fact, He’s obligated to reprove, correct, and discipline such errors appropriately. That does not imply that He is always harsh or angry in doing so. He can be very gentle and merciful. Nevertheless, He will deal with us as children. He tells us that those who do not come to Him as little children cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Children, despite their ignorance, have an ability to trust regardless of their ability to understand. And they are at the mercy of their parents with regard to what they are given responsibility toward. The greater the stewardship: the greater the responsibility.
God has a veil, which we see revealed in the Old Testament through the pillar of cloud during the exodus, and the construction of the Temple. And so does His Word, which we see demonstrated in Christ’s sermons and teaching. For ages He has veiled Himself as well as those things He does not want anyone to know. When John heard mysteries proclaimed in the book of Revelation he was commanded not to write or speak them. Those things have never been disclosed to anyone but him, and he took them to the grave.
When Christ came the veil was removed from the hearts and faces of those who practiced the Law (see 2 Corinthians 3:13-18). The physical veil was also torn (removed) that separated God from His people (see Matthew 27:51). Through Christ the way to Him is now open to all mankind. The veil is gone. God has entered into a new covenant with His people whereby He has disclosed Himself so intimately with mankind so as to live within all those who believe. He no longer dwells in temples made with hands. He dwells in us. The intimacy we have with Him is something so miraculous that it’s unthinkable. Yet men continue to seek men for God. There could be no greater insult to His lavish gift.
God has made Himself available to all of us. And there are a great many things He has revealed and brought to pass. However, what He chooses to disclose is at His discretion. Learn to rejoice when you don’t understand. Enter His rest. We were never called to understand — we are called to believe. We are called to walk by faith. We are called to know Him.
There is a great stewardship in handling the secrets, revelations, and mysteries He gives. Paul declares the mystery of the Gospel to be revealed. That revelation is disclosed only to those who believe. Many desire to know the deep things of God, yet they fail to desire God Himself. I personally believe this is why God entrusted some of the greatest revelations ever given to the Apostles John and Paul. More than anything else they desired intimacy with Christ Jesus, to know Him, and to have fellowship with Him even in His sufferings — whatever the cost. It was to these that He entrusted Himself, as well as His great mysteries and secrets (some of which they were not permitted to speak or write). When you know God, regardless of what you may not understand, that knowledge satisfies. He becomes enough.
Intimate relationship is the only thing that grants us such wondrous knowledge. And that is the knowledge God invites us to have. When we demand knowledge and understanding apart from what God permits, we erect a veil that keeps us from Him.
For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul, (Hebrews 10: 37-39, KJV).
Enter beyond the veil. Enter beyond the veil of your own understanding. Let Him reveal Himself. He is the mystery He has chosen to reveal. Let Him be God and embrace the childlike faith that can save your soul. Only when you can relate to God as a Father, will you come to understand that you won’t always understand — and just how good and right that truly is.
Cheers & Shalom,