The entire Bible can be traced back to Genesis 3 where we see the fall of man from the paradise that God had desired for His creation. From this foundation we can then add Genesis 12 where God calls Abraham and gives his descendants the promise of a future land and nation. And in chapter 49 of Genesis, we see God promise a leader through the line of Judah. Throughout the Bible we see common themes continually come back and connect to these three promises. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy focus on the establishment of the people into a nation with a complete constitution. The book of Joshua tells the tales of battles fought to conquer the land. And the books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the restoration of the nation of Israel to the land after the exile. And the other books follow a story of attempts to find a leader who is good enough to sit on the throne forever.
In chapter 13 of Acts, Paul uses a very similar tactic of preaching the gospel to the Jews. The Jews would have understood the promises of a land, nation, and a leader, and they also knew that they were ultimately waiting for the leader — the Messiah. Therefore, Paul presents the history of the Israelites starting with when God led the people out of Egypt and going through the period of the Judges and then Kings.
Paul highlighted a couple leaders in his overview, but they all turned out to be sinful. Even seemingly good men who sat on the throne made mistakes that did not reflect the leader the world needed. Another problem with these leaders is that they all ended up dead. Paul brings up this point in verse 36-37 when he says, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.” He does this to clearly contrast Jesus from the other leaders that the Jewish people adored like David. His purpose was to convince them that the Jesus they killed was the Messiah because God raised Him from the dead so that he would not see decay. Paul knew that the best way to prove this to the Jews was to use scriptures like Isaiah 55:3 and Psalm 16:10 to make his point. He also mentions that Jesus was seen by many witnesses after God raised him from the dead.
Throughout his sermon to the Jews, he makes a clear distinction between God and Jesus. For example, he states that God was the source of the power that raised Jesus from the dead. He also uses the titles of Father and Son to describe the relationship between God and Jesus.
The result of this sermon is that many Jews and Gentiles received Jesus as the Messiah. They asked Paul to return and preach again the following Sabbath. But the message also faced opposition by the Jews who were jealous of Paul’s preaching and his popularity among the crowds. In response, Paul goes back to Isaiah and quotes 49:6 in order to prove to the Jews the prophecy of the Gentiles being included into the promises of God. This sermon caused even more persecution for the early church but nonetheless the truth was spread throughout the entire region and both Jews and Gentiles came to believe in Jesus.
What does this tell us about the importance of the Old Testament as the context for the New Testament?
Would you say that you have a good understanding of the Old Testament? Or is this something that you could spend more time studying?
Why do you think some of the Jews accepted the truth of Paul’s sermon while others became jealous?
I am continually amazed at the way God directed the steps of the apostles through the direction of His Holy Spirit in the days of the formation of the early church. The apostles had the message to share that through Jesus there was forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to the Father. They were given the opportunity to share this message in very public places and many came to believe in Jesus. Can you imagine speaking in one place and then being asked to speak again the following week and almost the whole town shows up?
We as Christians have been given the same message to share – that there is forgiveness for sin through Jesus Christ resulting in reconciliation with our heavenly Father God. This is the greatest message of hope there is. Do we share it as often as we can? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were asked to share and a whole town full of people showed up and came to believe! We realize that the apostles were filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do amazing things, and make amazing inroads in the gentile world for the gospel of Christ to be shared and accepted. If we want to be successful like they were notice what they did at the very beginning of Acts chapter 13 – the men fasted and prayed for direction and it was given to them.
As we attempt to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world do we go about it in our own way or in God’s way. Do we remember to pray for God to lead us by His Holy Spirit to know where and when we are to share the message? Do we ask for the opportunity to share and do we ask for the correct words to say as the opportunity presents itself. The apostles were successful in their mission to share the gospel in Antioch because they had prepared the way ahead with prayer, and diligence to listen to where, and when God was directing them to speak. All of this leaves me wondering – would we be much more successful in our sharing of the Gospel if we spent more time in preparation with prayer and listening for God’s directives? Give it a try and see what happens!
-Pastor Merry Peterson
Pastor Merry Peterson lives in Ontario, Canada and pastors at Freedom In Christ Church.
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Samuel 7-8 and Acts 13
“The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit…” Acts 13:4
Is God calling you? When’s the last time you’ve looked and watched somebody go on a missions trip? Go up front at church and speak? Or teach a class? Do you ever think ‘I should be doing that.’ Maybe God is calling you to do that. When have you ever allowed the Holy Spirit to speak to you and send you out to do God’s work? God has equipped and called each and every one of us to go do great things for the glory of His Kingdom. Nothing brings more joy than recognizing the purpose that God has made you for. Heavenly Father, help me to open my mind and heart to where You are calling me.
Open your ears and heart and listen for God’s voice in the less obvious places.
“We tell you the good news. What God promised our fathers, he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” Acts 13: 32–33
I have served in many churches throughout the United States. I have been blessed to go out and have many chances to work with youth and adults alike. To see ministries started, buildings put up and peoples’ lives changed. But for me nothing compares to watching someone who serves the Lord. Men and women from our congregations serving me, helping, guiding me. Missionaries since Paul and Barnabas have risked their lives to spread God’s word in my place. Pastors and teachers have come before me and expressed their faith so that I could have a chance to know the LORD.
And Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Nothing I can do can compare with these sacrifices, and spreading God’s word is a way for me to remember my blessings and express my thanks.
Lord, show me where I can serve you and give me the strength to respond. Help me to express thanks for others’ sacrifices through action.