In Isolation Thoughts 2

Hymn: We rest on Thee our shield

Bible Reading: Acts 13. 13-16, 32-41, 46-52

INTO GENTILE TERRITORY

It was one thing preaching near Jerusalem, then expanding to the island of Cyprus, but now the gospel preachers moved on to the mainland Gentile territory. They sailed to Perga where John left them to go back to Jerusalem, leaving Paul & Barnabas and their company to travel north to Antioch, known as Pisidian Antioch to distinguish it from Antioch in N Syria. They arrived, settled down and then, on the Sabbath, went as usual to the Synagogue. They listened to the reading from the OT. Then the leader of the Synagogue invited them to speak, he asked if they had any exhortation for the people. What an invite! Here was an open invitation to speak, they certainly had an exhortation, it was the message of the Gospel, they were openly being invited to talk about Jesus. no hesitation! Here we have recorded an early sermon by Paul.

Context of the Messiah

Paul gives his listeners a short summary of the history of the Jewish people, but note he relates each episode as part of God’s plan for the nation linking it with Messiah.

  • In Egypt, prospering but in slavery
  • Led out with power but did not mention any specific act by God
  • In the wilderness for 40 years because of their conduct towards God
  • Gave them a land by overpowering the resident nations over 450 years
  • Judges and prophets ruled the people but they clamoured for a king in the time of Samuel
  • Saul, son of Kish was the first, then came David. He was described as a man after God’s heart and promised that through his descendants He would ultimately bring the Messiah, clearly identified as Jesus
  • First the people had to be prepared by John the Baptist, preaching repentance
  • Jesus was identified again as the Messiah
  • The Jewish leaders did not accept Him, rejected His words, induced Pilate to crucify and bury Him
  • God raised Him from the dead and he was seen alive in the land

Having laid out this foundation, Paul now explains in detail how this led to the Messiah and all that happened to Him.

Content of the Message

It was not random events, there was a purpose to all that had occurred. It was God in action, revealing Himself in a greater form so the people could see Him, trust Him and be saved. This was the ‘Good News’ or exhortation that he was bringing to them. He takes them back to the OT promises and shows how Christ, Jesus fulfilled them.

  • Identified in the Psalms as the Son of God, eternal with unending life. This could not be David because they knew he died and was buried.
  • God’s resurrected Son could not decay so this Psalm was a reference to Him
  • What was the purpose of the Messiah?
    • His death brought forgiveness of sins for you
    • Faith in Jesus will set you free from your sin
    • You will be justified, something the Law given to Moses could not do
    • Challenge their reaction to this message, would they scoff at it, would they say it is unbelievable, would they not listen?

Paul left them at this point and walked out of the Synagogue. He had sown the seed in their minds, and they had to decide what to do about it.

Concern of the Multitude

There was an instant reaction. The people wanted to hear more and invited Paul to come back the following Sabbath and speak again. Some could not wait that long, after the end of the service, they followed Paul and Barnabas and asked for more information about what God had done. This following contained Jews and Gentiles, all seeking to know more. From the following verses, it seems that quite a number had been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and became believers. The news of what had occurred spread across the city, next Sabbath there was a massive crowd, described as all the city! This upset some of the Jews, they couldn’t get crowds like that to listen to their sermons, the content was different now and had become vital. As was to be expected, they opposed what Paul was saying, contradicted him, abused him. Paul reacts by telling them, if you won’t listen, I will go to those who will, I will go to the Gentiles with this message. Now we see a different reaction, the Gentiles were delighted to be given the message. They accepted what Paul had said, they received God’s word and became believers. The gospel spread through the whole region in God’s power. The Jewish opposition to Paul’s message now escalated into action. There was a stirring up of the people, notice it was the leaders of the Jewish community, both men and women, who were involved. Their actions of persecution led to Paul and Barnabas being expelled from the city, so they shook the dust off their shoes, just as Jesus had told the first disciples to do if they were rejected in any town or village and went on their way to Iconium. The gospel and been preached, people had come to faith, they were not despondent, they were overjoyed and knew that the Holy Spirit had been at work and their mission would not stop.

In our current situation, we feel we are restricted in what we can do for the Lord. We cannot be ashamed of the gospel, so we must remain faithful to the truth of the Word of God, withstand any opposition and trust the Holy Spirit to guide us and challenge the whole world with the message of forgiveness by faith in Jesus Christ. Are we ready to move on to the next place of mission?

Prayer

Hymn:  Facing a task, unfinished

 


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