Deep beneath the ocean floor, four Vanguard class submarines lurk, carrying ballistic missiles with a range of 7,000 miles that have been armed with nuclear warheads. The United Kingdom relies on these submarines as its chief deterrent against nuclear war.
Inside of each of the four British nuclear submarines is a safe. Inside of that safe is another safe. Inside of that safe is a hand written letter.
The four letters have been titled "The Letters of Last Resort" and are written and sealed by every British prime minister. At the end of each prime minister's term, the letters are destroyed unopened.
The purpose of these letters is to give direction to the commanders of these submarines in the event that the prime minister of Britain has been killed in a nuclear attack by an enemy nation.
The fact that these letters exist is not exactly well known but it is not a secret. After all, I just told you about them and just in case you are wondering I am not privy to any classified British intelligence.
When I first heard about these letters it seemed to me an odd British custom. There are plenty of odd British traditions, and the whole double-safe handwritten letter thing seemed to fit in.
First of all, if these letters are so top secret, why has the British intelligence released information that they exist in the first place?
Secondly, why do they need the letters in the first place? If Britain was destroyed by a nuclear attack, why would they not have some protocol in place for retaliation?
If anything, the letters give a certain power of the unknown. For all we know, the command of the prime minister may be to not retaliate but to surrender, or to find shelter from a friendly nation like the United States, or perhaps all four of the letters have a different message.
The point is, only the prime minister really knows, who in this case is David Cameron. Their message is an unrevealed mystery of the British government. We are left only to guess at what these handwritten letters might say and let's pray that we will never find out.
As I was thinking of the Letters of Last Resort and the idea of unrevealed mystery, I could not help but be grateful that our God is not unrevealed. In His grace He has revealed Himself to us, speaking clearly to the hearts and minds of men and women.
Carl Henry once said, "God has forfeited His own privacy to reveal Himself to mankind."
The fact that God has not left Himself as a mystery to us is one the great displays of His own kindness. Moses ponders this revelation in his sermon to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy saying, "For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived?" (Deuteronomy 5:26).
It is an amazing thought that God has spoken to His people and that His word has been reliably recorded and passed through the generations so much so that a copy of this revelation is now sitting on my desk as I write.
God is not an unrevealed mystery. His word is good and true and understandable. It does not change, and it is not contradictory.
As a believer in God and his incarnate word, namely His son Jesus, I can say that his written word becomes clearer and fuller to me, the more I study it, and the more I know Him.
I pray that you will grow to love it as much as I do and even more. I pray that it would not be like The Letters of Last Resort, staying locked up on your shelf, contents unknown, but that it would be the very truth that you live by every day.
And all of this I pray, for God's glory and for your joy.
Jason Dees is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington. He can be reached at 770-786-9031 or www.firstbaptistcovington.com or www.facebook.com/jasondees.