Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
A Nautical Mystery
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness [to Jesus as the Messiah] in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25)
Blindness: “hardness of heart, stubbornness.”
Fulness: “full number.” From Ellicott’s commentary: “the complete number; the full complement of the Gentiles.” As per a commonly-used analogy: the moment all the crew members of a ship have come aboard.
Note: of course only God knows the “full number” of “Gentiles” (meaning not Jews) and when they will climb aboard the “faith ship,” so to speak.
Also note: “in part” means that, of course many Jews had/have also put faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
In the meantime, to extend the nautical metaphor, believers, having already come aboard, now tend to our assignments to keep the vessel as shipshape as possible (preaching, teaching, interceding, comforting, encouraging, and serving in myriad other ways) in anticipation of new members, while also continuing to “advertise” its next port of call, as in eternal life, for those yet to climb on.
Like the real Ark of old, this spiritual ship also offers shelter from storms both natural and supernatural.
Also, like the Ark narrative but now in a spiritual sense, God, Himself “closes the door” once the vessel is completed and all the “crew members” are on board.*
And until that time, we remain, tending our tasks.
Most of our assignments are not particularly noticeable or sensational, but all keep faith afloat–and crew members from harm–while reaching out also to those yet to accept God’s lifesaver of faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
So we are everywhere all the time and in every place imaginable–following the Cap’n until it’s anchors aweigh.**
And that is why we occupy.
*Here is some information on how to come aboard.
**As to what might trigger the time for departure, some believe it involves the so-called Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This is a somewhat controversial doctrine in the Church, but for more information, see here.
Image of “welcome on board” lifesaver from the public domain.