Pastors Report - 3 Jul 2020
God's Hidden Agenda

God's Hidden Agenda

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. (Isaiah 64:4)

Although the word 'agenda' itself is quite innocuous in general terms – meaning a list, a menu, a timetable – when we read of a ' hidden agenda' that immediately brings to our minds something sinister. Conspiracy theories abound today with the advent of the internet and invariably they will point the reader to some covert, malevolent sinister motive behind what we see or read. This can be seen in stark relief when we consider the hidden agenda of the Nazi party towards the Jews during the last world war. On the surface the initial directives seemed fairly inoffensive, but in the 6 years before the actual war began there were over 400 separate pieces of legislation passed... from initially suspending Jewish doctors from Berlin's charity services on 31st March 1933; to outlawing kosher slaughtering; to setting a maximum of Jewish students in public schools to 5% and then two years later, barring them completely; to removing the right to vote; to forbidding Jews from being tax consultants, teachers, editors, actors, auctioneers, midwives or vets; to legislation against changing their names and many, many more. In retrospect, we can see that all these laws reflected their hidden ultimate agenda: to remove every Jew from the face of this earth!

Satan too has a hidden agenda, which is similar to that of the Nazi party he inspired. But it's one much greater in scope as he is out to destroy not just the Jews but every human being. He's hidden his real agenda – and even his existence – from humanity in order to deceive and take captive. His underlying character was summed up by Christ "...He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44)

In total contrast, God's agenda is to offer eternal, spirit-born life to every human being. Yes, His agenda is presently hidden from the vast majority of mankind, but for a totally different reason. He's allowing humanity to remain blinded so it can sample an alternative way, yet without being held accountable for such a detrimental choice. God has done it this way that He might have mercy on all, and we can see this outgoing consistency throughout history, even though it remains largely hidden from mankind as a whole.

  • The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
This Spectacular Creation:

Each day as we open our eyes we come face to face with a truly spectacular creation. Even if we live in a city with very little in the way of gardens, trees and parks, we still rub shoulders with human beings, who like us were once just the size of this period/full stop at the end of this sentence. And whether we go outward in the mind-numbing distances of galactic systems or inward to the quarks and electrons on which this present physical reality is based, it is a world filled with wonder, which finds the human frame truly in the centre of immensities. And yet there is also an astounding coherence in all we witness – as if the very design and purpose for everything we see is to make our minds stand in awe of the Being behind it. As the mathematician and theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson put it, "The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming."

Dyson isn’t alone. Many theoretical physicists now recognize the sobering challenge of random accidents creating the multi-layered information-processing system one accidental rule at a time and then accidentally self-assembling these accidental rules into the magnificently complex and bizarre system of tiny clouds of energy that constantly process digital information at the speed of light. This layered network that forms the structure of physical reality could not have sprung from a fortuitous string of a few billion random accidents (make that a few quadzillion accidents if you include the DNA program). It is mathematically impossible.

Instead, the fact that each layer is the precise foundational layer for all of the subsequent higher layers of more complex information processing strongly suggests that each layer was foreseen, and intelligently designed for a purpose. ( evolutionnews.org)

The full text of the above article – Bits and Bytes at the Bottom – is well worth a read as it gives a truly up-to-date analysis of reality, seen through the prism of the computer revolution and information age, combined with 21st century advances in microscopy and theoretical physics. Those individuals who are not afraid to go where the evidence leads can see there is something else – something big – going on here... but as yet their minds remain blinded to exactly what it is.

An Unseen Hand:

At a less scientific level, the fact that the Creator's hidden agenda must be truly gigantic was expressed by Sir Winston Churchill in his speech to the US Congress, December 1941 during WW2:

If you will allow me to use other language, I will say that he must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants . It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will, for their own safety, and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice, and in peace. ( www.americanrhetoric.com)

Though God's agenda remains hidden from the wise and prudent and very much revealed only to 'babes', all humanity experience this incredible creation on a daily basis and are going to be held accountable for recognising the eternal power and Godhead it observes. This is true whether backed into a corner by the overwhelming statistical impossibility of all we see being here by blind chance, to the unseen hand in history that Sir Winston Churchill witnessed – or to the awe we all should experience looking up at the stars or finding ourself holding a newborn child in our arms.

  • Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
  • For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:19,20)
The Foundation of the Age:

You would think this awesome appreciation would have been particularly so for Adam when he opened his eyes for the first time, to find himself in the spectacular Garden of Eden, together with the very Being who had created him. It appears that at that very early stage Adam had been protected from Satan's broadcast, as he willingly went along with God's direction to name the animals. But once God allowed exposure to Satan, it would seem to be a foregone conclusion who was going to win. After all, when Christ was human – but filled with God's spirit – He still fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before He took on the god of this world. So indeed, part of God's hidden agenda – from way, way back – was that in order to redeem mankind from the grip of Satan, one of the Godhead was going to have to die, as mentioned in Revelation 13:8 and also by the apostle Peter:

  • For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,
  • but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
  • He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (I Peter 1:18-20 NIV)

On the individual level, it would appear that God merely instructed Adam regarding what trees he could freely eat from and which one would cause major problems. " ...Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16,17). It is unlikely that He filled Adam in on the Big Picture... i.e. that the overall thrust, the amazing agenda of these God beings was to "make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26) ...and that disobedience to His clear instruction would bring about 6000 years of misery and necessitate the death of his Creator.

The fact is, Adam didn't need to know all the details, but what he did need to do was to trust God and obey Him.

Abraham:

Unlike Adam and Eve, Abraham gives us a truly magnificent example of faith – making him the "father of the faithful" (Galatians 3:7) and "the friend of God" (James 2:23). Throughout Abraham's life, the One who became Jesus Christ dealt with him on a one-to-one basis, and Abraham was even able to reason with Him (Genesis 18) and yet Christ kept certain aspects of His plans firmly hidden. Having been promised that he would become a great nation when still in Ur of the Chaldees, Abram, as he then was, began his journey together with his household until they came to Haran. There he waited until his father died (Genesis 11:32), before setting out once again, now aged 75 – but still not having had his ultimate destination revealed to him, and still without an heir.

God gave Abraham the overall plan He had for him – to become a great nation – but without providing the details – specifically that he would need to wait until he was 100 years old and his wife well past child-bearing age. Neither was it explained to him that Sarah would not be the mother of all the nations that he would engender, but Keturah would play a large part in the plan.

God's agenda in building Abraham's faith was even more expansive – even to the point of being willing to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22) – and God only brought this to his attention 3 days before it was due to take place. But considering his future position in the world tomorrow, and the character he would need to qualify for that role, in hindsight, we can understand the 'training' Abraham had to go through... but did he at the time? Do we, at the time?

Israel in Egypt:

One thing that wasn't hidden from Abraham – as far as the agenda of God is concerned – was the fact that his descendants would be spending a considerable period of time as slaves and would have to be rescued by God in a spectacular way... but the why's and wherefore's don't seem to have been revealed to him:

  • And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
  • And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
  • And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. (Genesis 15:13-15)

Even Moses – though he dealt with Jesus Christ face to face – seems to have been given only part of the Big Picture... just a few parts of the jigsaw. How much did he truly understand the transcendental symbolism of the Passover lamb and the blood on the lintels? Of Egypt being a type of sin; the Red Sea crossing being a type of baptism; the Promised Land being a type of the Kingdom of God; and manna being a type of the word of God – that we partake of daily? Once again a major segment of the agenda was known – to allow Israel to inherit the land promised to the fathers – but significant portions were missing. Passages – such as the material blessings of Deuteronomy 28 – were for there and then purely physical... but so many of the finer details, and particularly the spiritual details, were kept hidden.

  • The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

Even though the very heart and core of His spiritual law – to love God with heart, soul and might and our neighbour as ourselves – is clearly written in the word that was delivered to them (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18), the crucial fact it would only be possible to truly keep it with the indwelling of God's Holy spirit – the key lesson for all mankind – was hidden from their view.

The Prophets:

When we come to the Old Testament prophets the majority of the messages delivered to them were not for their time at all. Daniel in particular was told "...Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." (Daniel 12:9) . And this fits within what the apostle Peter pointed out:

  • For the prophets who gave the news of the grace which would come to you, made search with all care for knowledge of this salvation;
  • Attempting to see what sort of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them was pointing to, when it gave witness to the pains which Christ would undergo and the glories which would come after them.
  • And it was made clear to those prophets that they were God's servants not for themselves but for you, to give you word of the things which have now come to your ears from the preachers of the good news through the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; things which even angels have a desire to see. (I Peter 1:10-12 BBE)

The apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, brought out that what he was teaching them had been hidden from not only mankind in previous ages, but also angelic beings!

  • And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
  • To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
  • According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (Ephesians 3:9-11)
The First Coming:

The prophecies regarding the Christ – or Messiah – are reasonably extensive in the Hebrew scriptures but the Jews were expecting a Messiah very different from the one that appeared. Even John the Baptist had to ask Christ: "...Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3). Also, after being with Christ for three and a half years, plus another 40 days after He'd been resurrected, the apostles still didn't have revealed to them the whole plan of what God had in mind. They'd been told they would sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel but not the timing:

  • When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
  • And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (Acts 1:6,7)

This crucial detail – the timing of when Christ would appear as the all-conquering Messiah – was something consistently kept as part of the hidden agenda. Around the first day of Pentecost, it was still generally understood that Christ would be returning shortly as they had "all things in common" (Acts 2:44). Then again, the apostle Paul – after spending three years in the desert and being taught personally by Christ, (Galatians 1:15-18) initially thought Christ was to return in his lifetime... "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not [precede] them which are asleep." (I Thessalonians 4:15)

Down to Today:

And so it is today. In these last days, a great deal more of this "mystery of the ages", or what we might call God's 'hidden agenda' can be understood, but the timing of Christ's return still remains hidden. We may recognise Mr. Armstrong's role as an apostle which in turn allows us to understand with great clarity The Plan hidden within the Holy Days, including what the Feast of Tabernacles pictures, but still so much detail eludes us. To give a mundane example, at this Covid19 moment of unfolding prophecy, we all can't even be absolutely sure that we will be able to meet to celebrate the feast this year!

Why does God keep such details hidden from His people? Looking back over the examples given above, the information provided was always sufficient for every one at the time. And so it is with us. We may feel apprehensive about how we will be able to keep the Feast this year – but God is fully aware of the current situation, and we need to 'hold our peace' and allow Him to work out the details - in faith, believing He will clarify His will to us when appropriate. We know we are not just a number in the church but are intimately known as individuals – every hair being numbered (Luke 12:7). What we don't know – and is hidden from us – is how the next few years will impact us on that individual basis, but again, we have this promise to hang onto:

  • Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
  • Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
  • Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.
  • For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:10-13)

One day God's hidden purpose – to restore the government of God through His spirit born sons – will be clearly seen by all. But in the meantime we must take one day at a time, realising that the lack of detail – God's hidden agenda – forms part of our training, so we grow in faith, learning by personal experience that we are able to trust God with every aspect of our lives, including that of our families. And as we get ever closer to entering the 'Promised land' of the coming Millennium, we can rest on the same assurance that God gave to Joshua, all those years ago, at that daunting time in his life:

  • Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
  • This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
  • Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:7-9)