GOD's SECRET PLAN TO SAVE MANKIND
Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word for "Joshua" and means "Jehovah is my salvation." This was the name that the angel commanded to be given to the son of Mary, ‘for it is He that shall save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21) This One, that we call ‘Jesus’ came to save us from our sins. The world long looked for Him, we still look for Him to come again.
When Jesus came the first time, many knew the prophecies that foretold a coming. As the time grew near, some of the past prophecies, such as Daniel’s, to narrow down the time of Jesus’ coming.
The people had come to expect this Jesus to be the Messiah. The Greek word for Messiah is ‘Christos’, meaning the ‘anointed One’. Combined with ‘Jesus’, it means this One to come would be the anointed One of God sent to save from sins.
Shortly after the sins of Adam and Eve, God began to let out His secret plan for redeeming mankind from its sins. He told Adam and Eve, and even revealed to the devil, that a ‘Seed of woman’ would come to bruise this devil’s head, and to bring salvation to man. Little by little, this secret plan of God, was detailed with more and more facts, pinpointed who was to come, about when it would happen, what events would occur when He came. God did have a secret plan, some of which is still secret, but yet, God has always been revealing more and more of His plan, telling His secrets.
The saints pondered what they knew, they prayed for Jesus to come, and God kept revealing more and more to those who were anxious for more information. God revealed more and more, made many more and more anxious for this One to come.
Even Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century, had heard talk of this "Jesus". He wrote ‘Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man..." (Ant. XVIII, iii 3) He knew that this One called Jesus came as a man, and yet, fulfilling many prophecies from God to be the special One foretold. Josephus did not truly know Jesus, but he had questions.
Even amongst the heathen, there was awareness of the message of Who Jesus was, and of prophecies that Jesus had fulfilled. People had heard the prophecies for many centuries, it was well known, for God had revealed secrets down through the ages.
Tacitus, a Roman historian, wrote of the persecution of Nero (Ann xv 44) and speaks of the Christians as a ‘great multitude’ who had gotten their name "from the One Christos, Who was executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate...’ The fact that this One, Jesus, is called the ‘Christos’, the ‘anointed and sent One from God’ showed that the prophetic messages, the revelations of secrets from God, had become well known. Even ones like Tacitus, who knew about Jesus, though they did not know Jesus, had heard of these revealed secrets of God.
At the time of Jesus’ first coming, a small band of people were expecting the Messiah to come. The timing of Daniel had alerted many as to its nearness. The wise men, in distant lands, were watching for that ‘star’ to announce that within two years, the Coming One would be born. God was so anxious to reveal that Jesus would soon come, that He sent the ‘star’ sign in the heavens to announce the coming.
The shepherds heard the announcement of the angelic hosts, and went to view the newborn Savior, thereby knowing even of His first day as one of mankind, that He had arrived and would soon do the salvation promised. God sent the angelic choir to sing to the shepherds of Jesus’ coming, although it would still be 33 years before Jesus would die to give salvation.
Anna and Simeon had each had prophetic messages from God, revealing to them that they would see the newborn Savior, before they died. They awaited daily at the Temple, watching as baby after baby was being dedicated, and God wanted them there, anxious and ready to see the newborn baby.
The shepherds rushed away to start spreading the good news, telling the ‘secret’ that God had shown to them. Little groups, even as far as Nazareth area were waiting for this newborn to grow up and begin His work of bringing salvation.
The wise men went to their homelands, and other areas, and spread the ‘secret’ that they had been shown. Many around the world grew anxious, excited, about the secret that they knew.
Mary was visited by Gabriel. Gabriel had come with some of the secrets of God, and told Mary that she was the one chosen to bear One born to her from the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Gabriel told her that this Child would be called the ‘Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:32) She was also told that He would remain holy, even from the womb (Luke 1:35). She was told many secrets from God, and her excitement in knowing these secrets were kept hidden by her, and yet, God could not hold back telling her these same secrets.
Elisabeth was told by the Holy Spirit, when Mary entered her home, that this One to be born of Mary, would be the One prophesied by God. Zacharias had already been shown that his son would be a forerunner of the coming Messiah. The secret of God was revealed to them. They watched as those cousins, Jesus and John, grew up playing and fellowshiping together. Both Elisabeth and Zacharias likely died before Jesus died on the cross for our salvation, but God told His secrets to them, so they could enjoy these revelations. They kept the secrets of God from John, for at the baptism of Jesus, we see John receive the revelation of Who this cousin truly was.
So, the parents of John kept some secrets that even God could not resist telling to them. Elisabeth and Zacharias could watch Jesus and John play together as children, smiling, knowing the secret of God. They could feel the awe of knowing Who Jesus to be, and feel pride in knowing that someday their son was to be the one to announce Jesus to the world.
There can be joy in knowing secrets from God. The anticipation grows for what we are told will soon come. The Word has prophesied for centuries what is soon to come, but to receive more details to know it is so soon, as Elisabeth, Zecharias, Anna, Simeon, the wise men, the shepherds, is exciting. The anticipation, joy, in hearing the revelation of the secrets of God, would bring a daily smile of joy.
The devil was unaware of the secrets of Elisabeth and Zacharias, for until John revealed it, at the baptism of Jesus, the devil was unaware Who it was that he should tempt in the wilderness. The devil knew Jesus had been born, for he encouraged Herod to kill all the babies two years or younger, for God kept the devil from knowing Who exactly Jesus was. Yet, in keeping that secret from the devil, still God revealed that secret to others, so they could joy in knowing Jesus, watching Him grow.
One of the shepherds that heard the angels sing, had seen the baby in the stable, was Lazarus. He was, at the time, a young shepherd in Bethlehem, in training for the priesthood. Shortly thereafter, his health deteriorated, so he lived near Jerusalem with the revealed secret of God about Jesus bubbling inside. When Jesus was 12, and His parents took Him to the feast, Lazarus recognized Mary and Joseph and knew that Jesus was the One he had seen as a baby in Bethlehem. He befriended Jesus and maintained that relationship with Him through the years.
In Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem, Lazarus and his sisters entertained Jesus on some of Jesus’ trips to the Jerusalem area. This explains how Mary and Martha knew of Jesus Person and purpose.
This former shepherd, Lazarus, with long patience had held the secret, sharing it with Mary and Martha often, undoubtedly. The name, Lazarus, means ‘God has helped.’ This revelation to him as a young shepherd, had helped him through years of frail health. With long patience he had watched and waited for Jesus to grow to manhood. With excitement, he had watched as Jesus began selecting disciples to accompany Him. The talk of the household of Lazarus must have often been concerning Jesus and His ministry. Martha was intent on serving and honoring this Jesus. Mary neglected the household duties and wanted to sit at the feet of Jesus. Mary later anointed Jesus, knowing Jesus was to suffer and die in the death He had prophesied.
Just before the big events of passion week, Lazarus took a turn for the worse, and died. Mary and Martha knew that he had longed to see the events of Jesus providiing salvation for mankind, and did not expect Jesus to allow Lazarus to die. Four days after the death, when hopes would naturally have long been shed, Jesus arrives and goes to the tomb of this former shepherd. Why had all this happened?
For four days, the spirit of Lazarus had been allowed to go to paradise, and there hear more revelations of secrets known there, and share with them there, the news that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the final events of the salvation to be provided. Lazarus was joyful as he viewed paradise, heard more from angels and saints there. He shared what he knew of Jesus.
Mary and Martha suffered and were shaken at his death, but knew that Jesus would soon be the resurrection. When Jesus arrived finally, Martha went to meet Him, for she was a ‘doer’, and wanted to see what Jesus was about to do. Mary was more patient, and sat at home, more patient in her waiting for Jesus. She had been the one who anointed the feet of Jesus, and knew that He was fully aware of death, and of the promised resurrection. Her faith had not subsided in Jesus. The fact of Lazarus death had brought her to the normal mourning for the loss of her beloved brother, but her faith in Jesus was still strong.
"called Mary... secretly... He called for thee... as soon as she heard, she arose quickly, and came unto Him.’
The mourning Mary followed Jesus, for she knew some of the secrets from God, shared by Lazarus earlier. She knew that Jesus was more than able to do miracles.
"...she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord, if Thou had been here, my brother had not died."
Jesus felt what grief had done to Mary and Martha, and knew that the death that sin brought into this world, would soon be defeated.
John 11:33, 35
"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping, which came with her, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled... Jesus wept."
The ‘groaning’ that Jesus did here, is from the Greek word ‘embrimaomai’ meaning ‘to snort as a horse in anger’. Jesus amidst His grief, snorted in anger at what death had been able to do to the ones left behind. Jesus’ anger was at the devil. His weeping was for those left behind by death, their loss and sorrow at being left here in this painful world.
Why had God have Lazarus die? There is a reason, and it is shown to us in the Bible. After Jesus told the disciples the reason for Lazarus death, Jesus told them that "our friend, Lazarus, sleepeth, but I go that may awaken him out of sleep...’ (John 11:11).
Jesus told the reason for the 4 day death of Lazarus in John 11:9-10:
"Jesus answered (disciples feared Jesus would be stoned if He went to Bethany so near to Jerusalem) ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.’"
Lazarus had some revelation of Jesus’. To be in darkness, not knowing what is soon to come, can bring a sorrow and darkness that is unwelcomed by any of us. Lazarus had suffered for decades in poor health, and the sickness led to death. The resurrection led to health and ability to spread the light he had been shown as a child and when in paradise. He ministered for 30 years after his resurrection. His revelation of God’s secret on the hills of Bethlehem, and his revelation of God’s further secrets in paradise during those four days, gave him many secrets, and much light to keep him from stumbling.
God reveals many secrets. He does so, for the joy of sharing the revelation. Yet, another reason exists, for if we walk in too much darkness, not knowing the secrets of God, we can stumble and fail in such darkness. Jesus delayed for four days, in going to resurrect Lazarus. Jesus knew that Lazarus needed those four days in paradise. What a meeting was going on in that place.
Peter, James, and John had been taken to the mount of transfiguration, and there saw and heard some of what Jesus was talking about to Elijah and Moses. They were speaking of the events soon to occur. Those secrets were shared with Peter, James, and John (at least the ones they stayed awake long enough to hear). If they had listened better, the revelation of those secrets from God, would have helped them better not to stumble. They needed the ‘light’ of those revealed secrets.
When Mary went to ‘anoint’ Jesus, she had obviously been told by the resurrected Lazarus some of what he was told in paradise. She now more fully understood the kind of death Jesus would soon suffer. Jesus said of Lazarus’ death, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."
God revealed much to Lazarus during that short time he was dead to this world. In paradise, God was glorified in revealing secrets to Lazarus. Lazarus was less likely to stumble, Mary was less likely to stumble, due to those revelations. The darkness of not knowing is alleviated by the light of the revelations of secrets.
Lazarus had likely wondered why he had to be weak and sickly for those 33 years. He was likely about 13 when he was the shepherd boy in Bethlehem. He was 46 then when he died. He had though, 30 more years of preaching a message of enlightenment, due to the many secrets shared with him by God and by Jesus. At 76, he died again. This time, allowed to go directly to heaven. Enlightened by the secrets of God, several times in his lifetime, he had a fruitful ministry sharing those secrets with others.
The resurrection of Lazarus showed others that Jesus was Lord of life and death. That same resurrection strengthened the faith of the disciples. It caused many to believe in Jesus. This same resurrection instigated many of the chief priests to plot to kill Lazarus, for his revelation of the secrets from God had made this quiet, frail man into a joyful evangelist motivated by the secrets of God that he had learned. The death of Lazarus had given him 4 days talking to Moses and other prophets. He spoke to angels and reveled with them in the events soon to transpire on earth.
Jesus had ‘wept’. His weeping was not for Lazarus, but for the effect of death on those left behind. Jesus wept in Gethsemane for the same reason.
We should desire to be on the receiving end of secrets from God in these last days before Jesus’ second coming. Just as in the days before and during His first coming, God became more and more anxious to reveal secrets, so now, in these last days, before Jesus’ second coming, God is revealing secrets galore.
Have you told God you want to be on the receiving end of those secrets like the shepherds, the wise men, Anna and Simeon, Elisabeth and Zacharias, Peter, James, John, Lazarus, etc, etc? Your ministry will be enlarged and more successful if you tune in to God reveal secrets in our time. There is more to know, and God is anxious to tell us. He cannot wait. He will reveal. Will it be you, or someone else? He is not a respecter of persons, so you have a claim on those secrets.
Since we have a God Who has such reluctance to keep His secrets, we can ask and expect to be shown and told many secrets in these times.