The Role of Judas in the Mystery of God

I’ve often observed circumstances in scripture which raise the question – how can a man stand against the will of God? This can be seen in Peter’s denial of Christ (Matthew 26:30-35, 69-75), prophesied by Christ himself, Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Christ (Matthew 26:47-56; Fourth Gospel 18:1-11), and even the denial and death of Messiah at the hands of Israelite leaders. Both of these latter examples were prophesied long before Christ arrived on the scene.

Are we to conclude, as some modern atheists claim(1), that the God of the universe is playing the role of a puppeteer, pulling the strings of his creation to satisfy some sadomasochistic tendency?

If one takes a very general and superficial view of religion, it’s not surprising that some can come to such conclusions. However, as Christians and seekers after the knowledge and wisdom of God and his Christ (Fourth Gospel 17:1-3), we are encouraged to dig deeper (1 Corinthians 1:18-25, 30-31; 2:6-7; Ephesians 1:16-20; James 1:5-6). So let’s begin.

In This Way All Israel Will Be Saved

In order to understand the role of Judas in Israel’s salvation, we must first understand the full context of that salvation. In Juda’s day, Israel’s salvation was shrouded in a mystery, unseen by the Jewish leaders, the people of Judea, and even the disciples of Christ.

Certainly most in Judea and many in Samaria expected the salvation of Israel at the hands of their coming Messiah. This was a subject of their scriptures and hopes, having been promised by multiple prophets of God. Though God did intend all these prophesied things for them, there were greater things he intended that were well hidden and kept secret; like the glorious life in Yeshua, the Christ. This life and light of men (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5) was to be brought to the world as a source of redemption and to remove the sin of the world. To accomplish this, the Messiah would first endure the cross before receiving the crown of glory.

A Mystery Hidden

This Messiah, Yeshua the Christ, is the mystery of God revealed to the world. The mystery of God’s work in Christ is manifested on many levels and in many ways.

To grasp the significance of the mystery of God, see the many articles in this series. Discover more.

One of the most important aspects of that mystery, which needed to remain hidden throughout Israel’s history, was the glorious redemption the Lamb of God would achieve for humanity through his incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection (Ephesians 1, 2, 3).

1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (ESV)
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Had the Jewish leaders understood the mystery hidden from them, and recognized Christ as their Messiah, they would not have sought his death. Yet his death was not only prophesied, it was essential for the removal of sin, for humanity’s redemption, and for the revelation of the new creation in Christ Jesus.

The will of God is not being worked out in a vacuum. God is putting to use the experience of humanity as a means to achieve its very redemption. He doesn’t achieve this redemption only through the righteousness of his son, but also through the unrighteousness of his children. Both are necessary for his children to mature into the character and likeness of God and his Christ; ultimately to bear the full image of the divine.

Some Stumble, That Others Might Stand

Although it was from Israel and Judah the Redeemer would come to dwell among us (Romans 9:4-5), it was through Judah’s rejection of this Redeemer, their Messiah, which opens the way of salvation to the Gentile world. Paul outlines this clearly for us in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 11:11-15 – speaking of those hardened and unfaithful in Israel;
11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

Paul goes on to show the relationship between all three groups in the tree of life that is Christ (Romans 11:17-21):

  • Some in Israel were broken off due to unbelief (vs 17)
  • Yet some remain steadfast in their faith and belief (vs 2a-7)
  • In addition to these, Gentiles are now grafted in through faith and belief in the Son of Promise.

The path of the faithful seems clear enough (Romans 8:1, 10-11), but what about the path of those in Israel cut off due to unbelief?

Romans 11:1 – God has not rejected his people.

Romans 11:7-10 – Those in unbelief in Israel were hardened. God gave them a spirit of stupor.

Romans 11:11 – Have those who’ve been cut off fallen completely? Not at all. God will use their trespass to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

Romans 11:12 – What does God produce from their trespass?

  • Their trespass leads to riches for the world
  • Their stumbling brings riches to the Gentiles

Romans 11:15 – If their rejection leads to reconciliation of the world (through their disobedience and through Christ’s death), what will their acceptance mean for them but life form the dead? How?

Romans 11:23 – If they do not continue in their unbelief, God has the power (and willingness) to graft them into the tree of life that is Christ.

Paul goes so far as to say that those in Israel who were cut off due to unbelief are enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet in spite of all of this, due to their election by God as his chosen people, they are beloved, and their gifts and calling are irrevocable (Romans 9:4; 11:28-29).

How does that lead to the salvation of all Israel (Romans 11:26-27)?

  • The Lord will come and banish ungodliness from Jacob (Zechariah 8:7-8, 11-17, 20-23)
  • He will establish a new covenant with Israel, in which their sins are removed (Jeremiah 31:1, 10-14, 31-34; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 37:24-28)

What about their disobedience and rejection of Christ? Paul provides the overriding context for all the work God is doing in and through Christ.

Romans 11:32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

The Scope of the Mystery of God

To put this all together, we can review briefly the revelation of the mystery of God to Paul, and come to understand God’s intentional and purposeful will in it.

Romans 16:25-26 – This mystery, kept secret throughout the ages, is made known to all nations. This is God’s will and command. It is not an afterthought. (Ephesians 1:3-10; 1 Peter 1:20-21; Titus 1:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Colossians 1:13-20, 26-28)

And God’s underlying goal in all this? To bring about the obedience that results from the gift of faith through His grace. (Romans 1:1-6; Ephesians 2:8 [4-10]; Romans 4:13-25)

All this he achieves through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lamb of God, by which he establishes his faithfulness. (1 Peter 1:17-21; 2 Peter 1:8-10; Hebrews 12:1-2; Galatians 3:7-9, 14, 24-29; 1 Corinthians 1:6-9; Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-2)

And as we saw in Romans 11 and from the prophets of old, the disobedient in Israel and Judah will be offered a new covenant in Christ in which they will then choose to walk or not in the obedience of faith in Christ.

Conclusions

It seems clear to me that if God is willing to bear the disobedience of all Israel and Judah, whose disobedience he’ll turn into glory, he’s also willing and able to bear the disobedience and betrayal of Judas Iscariot. Considering that it was through Judas that the arrest of our Lord, the dispersion of his disciples, and the subsequent events surrounding Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection occurred at a time of God’s choosing, indicates that the will of God is never undone by the work of devils. Quite the opposite. Because of their ignorance of the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God, those powers in heaven and on earth which seek to oppose God, unknowingly serve him and his will.



Many of these notes are taken from my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question – An Unfiltered View

Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does
    (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  4. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death
    1. The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection.
      (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
  5. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord
    (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  6. Based on God’s promise to offer the new covenant to all Israel after Christ returns to establish his earthly kingdom, clearly this is not the only day of salvation
    (Jeremiah 31; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Zechariah 8; Romans 9, 10, 11)

Footnotes:

1) Richard Dawkins (2008). “The God Delusion”, p.51, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Published by GMajella

Husband, father, and author on theological topics, with a focus on the underlying presuppositions which either cloud or enhance our view of reality. My focus is to challenge and guide fellow Christians into a deeper knowledge of God; his work, his will, and his overall purpose. My primary methods will be through books, blogs, and virtual or personal events.

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