Hidden Things: Apocalyptic Living and the Revelatory Kingdom of God

Therefore, don’t be afraid of them, since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, and nothing hidden that won’t be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in a whisper [lit: in the ear], proclaim on the housetops. (Matthew 10:26-27)

As a teacher, there are times when Jesus seems to make huge leaps in logic, or to speak so enigmatically that it’s impossible to tell what he’s getting at.

This is definitely one of those times.

Remember, the context of these words is the apostles’ first mission and the persecution that would accompany it both before and after “the coming of the Son of Man.” Jesus promised his disciples enormous suffering and difficulty, then told them not to fear because “nothing is hidden that won’t be made known.”

There is comfort hiding here, something the disciples were supposed to grasp that would enable them to stand up against vicious attacks from family, friends, and governments alike. But where is it?

Context, Old and New

As a student of Scripture, I’ve learned that a large percentage of the time, when Jesus doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface, it’s because he’s alluding to something in the Old Testament that his disciples (also students of Scripture) should have understood. And I believe that to be the case here.

As we saw last week, in the verses immediately preceding this where he spoke of the “coming of the Son of Man,” Jesus was alluding to the heavenly “coming” of Daniel 7, not to the ultimate return of Christ that is still in our future.

And as it turns out, that context of Daniel 7 is where today’s comfort is hiding … along with a great deal of revelation about the kingdom of God and the nature of our own commission as followers of Jesus even now.

Understanding Apocalyptic Visions

Daniel 7 is written in a genre called “apocalyptic.” Wikipedia’s definition is helpful:

The Book of Daniel is an apocalypse, a literary genre in which a heavenly reality is revealed to a human recipient. Apocalypses are characterized by visions, symbolism, an other-worldly mediator, [and] an emphasis on cosmic events, angels and demons …

In Greek, the word “apocalypse” means “revelation” or “unveiling.” In fact, it’s the same word used here in Matthew 10:26 when Jesus says “there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered [Gr: apokalyphthēsetai].”

Apocalyptic visions, and the literary works that convey them, describe real-world figures or events in highly symbolic language that “reveals” something about the true, heavenly (aka spiritual) nature of the figures or events described.

For example, in Daniel 7, the description of the fourth “beast” describes the true nature of the Roman empire:

While I was watching in the night visions, a fourth beast appeared, frightening and dreadful, and incredibly strong, with large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet whatever was left. It was different from all the other beasts before it, and it had 10 horns. (Daniel 7:8)

Daniel also predicted Rome’s ultimate downfall, despite its terrifying power. “Iron teeth” or no iron teeth, in the end Rome would not be strong enough to stand against God — and that was the point of the apocalypse (the revelation or unveiling) given in the chapter.

The Apocalyptic Reality of the Kingdom of God

Bringing this back to Matthew 10, Jesus was in the midst of commissioning his apostles to go first to Israel and then, after “the Son of Man comes,” to the nations with the gospel. However, rather than gaining immediate, visible earthly strength, they would persecuted, falsely accused, betrayed, and even killed.

In other words, on the outside — in the earthly, natural realm — they would look like powerless people who were unquestionably losing their battle. Their contemporaries would accuse them of being false prophets and even of operating through demonic spirits (Matthew 10:25). They would be slandered, beaten, and killed.

By outward appearance, Jesus would look like a liar and his people would look like purveyors of a false hope.

But that wouldn’t be reality. The hidden, apocalyptic reality was the reality recorded in Daniel 7:

One like a son of man … was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom one that will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

Another vision of the same kingdom is found in Daniel 2. In this chapter, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar saw a statue made of different metals, signifying the great empires of the ancient world (Babylon, Media/Persia, Greece, and Rome). In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a “a stone made without hands,” which struck the statue and caused it to come crashing down. The stone then “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:31-35).

Daniel interpreted the vision for Nebuchadnezzar by predicting that in the days of Rome, the fourth empire, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed … it will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44).

In Matthew 10, Jesus tells his disciples not to fear their persecutors because “nothing is covered that will not be uncovered, and nothing hidden that won’t be made known.” His point is that when it comes, the kingdom will come in a way that is hidden. The Son of Man will indeed receive his everlasting dominion, and he will indeed strike the construct of earthly empire and cause it to come crashing down, and his kingdom will indeed fill the whole earth — but not in a way that is immediately visible to human eyes.

Jesus was beckoning his disciples to see everything that was about to happen with heavenly eyes, not with earthly ones.

When Jesus was crucified, the disciples were meant to see the powers of oppression being destroyed as the stone made without human hands struck the powers of human and satanic evil once and for all, bringing them crashing down. When he was raised, they were meant to see the beginning of a new creation. When he ascended, they were to see the Son of Man receiving his kingdom. When he sent the Holy Spirit (yes, I’m getting ahead of myself), they were to see “the holy ones of the Most High receiving and possessing the kingdom forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).

In their vulnerable, persecuted, fragile mission, they were to see God winning in and through them. They were to be an apocalypse — people whose lives reveal the hidden things of the kingdom and the true, essential realities that lay covered by natural appearances.

“Therefore,” Jesus said, “don’t be afraid” … because the invisible realities were the true ones. The trouble, persecution, and suffering of this present world were only a curtain obscuring the truth.

Seeing and Hearing Your Teacher

Jesus followed this encouragement to his disciples with an instruction: “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in the ear, proclaim on the housetops.” I believe that Jesus is alluding to the Old Testament yet again with these words, this time to a prophecy in Isaiah 30:20-21:

The LORD will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide Himself any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher, and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.”

The translation of “Teacher” as singular and referring to God is contested (the Hebrew is a little tricky), so this verse is sometimes rendered “your teachers will not hide themselves any longer” — in which case it’s taken to refer to God’s prophets, who speak the words of God to the people.

Either way, this verse has direct bearing on what Jesus says to his disciples in Matthew 10. Israel’s Teacher has been hidden, but he will become visible, will speak, and will guide his disciples by speaking in their ears.

As Jesus was telling his disciples, he would soon “come” into his kingdom, and they, as his “saints” or “holy ones,” would receive it as well — but it would remain hidden for a time, concealed behind the appearances of things.

His followers, as the only people who could see and hear the truth, were to speak what they heard out loud, and to bring the truth out of darkness into light.

That is still our calling today. We are called to look past the apparent power of evil and darkness in our world and declare that our God reigns. We are to see and to honor Jesus as the King of Kings, already seated at the right hand of Power. We are to listen to our Teacher and to speak what he speaks.

Jesus is coming again. But in the meantime, he has already come, and he has already conquered. It’s our job to let the world know this is true — and to believe it, and live out of it, for ourselves.


This is Part 149 in a series on the Gospel of Matthew, which you can access here. Unless otherwise marked, quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.


This blog, Revelatory Creative, is a labor of love. My goal is to spend time studying and writing about the kingdom of God so that the church—you and me—can find our place within this largely forgotten but central Bible message.

But I can’t do it without your help.

You can become a monthly sponsor for any amount you choose. In return, you will get free access to the audio version of my 7-week “Your Kingdom Calling” course, as well as digital books and video series related to this blog. Visit Support to become a supporter and learn more!

And thank you … from the bottom of my heart! This work is possible because of you.


I am deeply grateful to everyone who has taken time to write to me over the past several years. Unfortunately, due to life constraints, I am no longer able to read or respond to email from readers. I thank you for your thoughts and please know that I am praying for you. Comments on the blog, however, are welcome.


Photo by Taylor Boggs on Unsplash



, ,




One response to “Hidden Things: Apocalyptic Living and the Revelatory Kingdom of God”

  1. Jay Avatar

    Excellent job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *