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“THE SECRET THINGS”
by Philip Owen

Secrets.  What child doesn’t relish knowing a secret, maybe teasing his siblings with the fact that he knows something they don’t know?  One of the attractions of a mystery novel is the allure of trying to figure out the secret of whodunit.  Our natural world and the larger universe are filled with secrets yet to be discovered by science.  And God Himself, though the Great Revealer, is certainly also the Great Concealer. 

The principle of secrets.  Very early in Scripture, which is otherwise God’s revelation, God sets forth an absolute principle.  He has led Israel faithfully for forty years in the wilderness, and as they gather “in the land of Moab,” God makes a covenant with them.  Moses explains that the reason for the covenant is so that God “may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God” (Deut. 29:13a).  But although He tells them many things, others are not revealed because “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deut. 29:29a).  There may be things they wish to know, things that seem confusing or contradictory from their perspective, even things that might seem from their viewpoint to be helpful to know.  But the fact is that, although God knows literally and without exaggeration everything, He is pleased deliberately to withhold some information from His children.

The practice of secrets.  We could adduce many examples from Scripture to demonstrate this point, but the following should suffice.  Although Daniel was privileged to receive the most panoramic  prophecy of the future of God’s people that may be found in the Old Testament, there were things which God chose not to disclose to this godly servant.  He writes:  “As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, ‘My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?’  He said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time’” (Dan. 12:8, 9).  If there were ever a time to explain something, it would seem to have been when the disciples, approaching the ascension of their Master after His resurrection, wanted some reassurance about when He would restore the kingdom to Israel.  But the Lord’s only word to His fearful and anxious disciples was that “it is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7).  Then there is the case of the great Apostle Paul, who “was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (II Cor. 12:4).  Similarly, we might cite John, the revelator, who was commanded to “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them” (Rev. 10:4b).  Perhaps most shocking of all, is that some things were hidden from the Lord Jesus during His humiliation as very man on earth.  Speaking regarding the time of His Second Coming, the Lord acknowledged that “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).

The purpose of secrets.  Is God like one of those teasing children referenced earlier, gleefully teasing us with the fact that He has knowledge that we don’t have?  Why does He bother telling us that He knows things that we don’t know if He is not going to reveal them to us?  This answer is not definitive, but will perhaps help us with this mystery of secrets.  (1) Secrets declare that God is sovereign and freely chooses what He wishes to reveal and to conceal.  (2) Secrets remind us that God is omniscient.  The fact that we do not know and cannot understand everything should not lead us to the false conclusion that such is the case with God.  (3) Secrets encourage us to consider that what God does reveal is both weighty and purposeful, and we should pay it the utmost heed.  (4) Secrets help us recall the great privilege it is to receive any truth from God, Who alone is the Source of all truth.  (5) Secrets demonstrate that God is big and that we are small.  He knows and understands things far beyond the grasp of our minds.  (6) Secrets encourage faith in and praise to a God Who is infinitely greater than we.  (7) Secret things frame what is revealed so that we will be more careful to heed the latter.  “The things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29b).  

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