The Secret Things
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NIV)
These words, spoken by Moses to Israel long ago, still carry an important message for God’s people. Consider three concepts that are emphasized in this verse.
The Danger of Speculation
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God.” There is much that God has not revealed to us. While it’s interesting to think about such things, it isn’t really profitable. In fact, speculating about unrevealed matters can be dangerous. Paul warned Timothy of some who had “turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:6-7). He told him to “refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23). And he encouraged Titus to “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9).
Speculation is at its worst when it becomes the basis for belief and practice. Much of what men call “theology” is just conjecture about unrevealed matters. And much of what men call “worship” or “ministry” or “religion” is action without divine authorization. God warns against adding to His revelation. “Every word of God is tested…Do not add to His words, or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6). Instead of speculating where God has not spoken and presuming to act where He is silent, we need to apply ourselves to what He has revealed.
The Blessing of Revelation
“The things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” A “secret” or “mystery” is something covered up or hidden; a “revelation” is something uncovered. In His revelation, God is sharing His mind with us. “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18). Without God’s revelation we’d be groping in darkness, unable to know what He has done, what He has promised, or how we should live. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him?” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
God has communicated His will to us. What a great blessing! In Christ, God has revealed to us what even the prophets of old did not understand (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:10-12). We should be thankful for God’s revelation and diligent in learning it. Praising the commandments of God’s law, David said, “They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:7-10).
The Responsibility of Those Who Hear
“That we may follow all the words of this law.” Since God has revealed His will, we have a responsibility to know it and obey it. His law defines right and wrong conduct. Without such a standard, sin would not exist (Romans 5:13). But since we have access to the revelation of God’s standard, we are without excuse when we violate it (see John 15:22).
God promises to hold us accountable for our response to His revelation. Our text in Deuteronomy 29 comes just after a list of blessings on obedience and curses on disobedience (chapters 27-28). And Jesus promised, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).