Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 17

1 Kings 18:1-46; Acts 11:1-30; Psalm 135:1-21; Proverbs 17:12-13

Ooooo.  This is a good one.  I have to say I flipped ahead to see if this would be my day to write a post - and, huzzah!, it is.  I knew I wanted to write about Acts, but then the OT reading caught me, too.  Isn't Scripture great?

I'll start with Acts.  Chapter 11 is the THIRD time we've heard this story now.  We saw it happen as it happened in the first half of Ch. 10, and then we heard Peter tell what happened to Cornelius (who is just an amazing character in Scripture, by the way), and now we read Peter's public explanation/defense of what happened - three virtually identical tellings of the same story, all in less than 80 verses.  I hope you noticed.  (Did you have a bit of deja vu?  Groundhog Day?)  I hope you asked yourself "why?"  

This situation parallels what we find in the Gospels, where the same event or teaching is told multiple times.  Surely the repetition highlights the significance of the moment.  We hear this story in Acts so many times because it's important.  Really important.  For me, this is the pivotal moment in my conversion story.  Without it, I would not even have a conversion story because, you see, I am a Gentile.  The graciousness of God in showing the vision to Peter - again, three times to emphasize its importance and unshakeablilty (Acts 11:10) - is graciousness extended to me.  Though I was "impure...God has made [me] clean" (vs. 9).  The seeking of Cornelius and the timing of the arrival of the men from Caesarea - that's the same cry of my heart: "We are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us" (10:33).  This man and his household didn't even know why Peter was there, but their hearts were prepared.  I want to be this kind of follower, full of faith and eager to hear what God has to say.  And the gift of the Holy Spirit (11:15) is the same gift I have today.  It's so par-for-the-course today, for a non-Jew to come to faith in Jesus.  But this event was the radical beginning to an outpouring of evangelism to the Gentiles.  It was no longer a Jewish religion that some outsiders happened into (like, perhaps, the Ethiopian eunich); now this group of Christians (see vs. 26) was clearly designed by God to be both Jew and Gentile.

And just a quick shout-out for Barnabas.  Not only was he bold enough to disciple Saul in his early and uncertain days (see Acts 9:27), we read today about his commitment to  the church and his further investment in Saul (11:22-23, 25-26).  God himself gives the greatest commendation for this admirable man: "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith" (vs. 24).

Obadiah is the same sort of man.  Though a very highly placed official, he jeopardizes his political career by supporting the priests of an unpopular religion.  Even as the queen who holds his national allegiance sets upon a killing spree, Obadiah risks his job, his fortune and even his life to protect the prophets of Yahweh (1 Ki. 18:4).  This major undertaking must have required enormous planning and secrecy, not to mention financial outlay.  Truly, Obadiah was "a devout believer" (vs. 3).  He demonstrates his faith even further in his conversation with Elijah.  He justifiably fears that Elijah, though the latter has summoned Ahab to a meeting, will fail to appear, thus putting Obadiah in an untenable position.  Obadiah has the choice of risking his life on the word of an unpopular hermit-of-a-prophet or refusing to act as the messenger of the one true God.  Obadiah chooses to live into the uncertain-yet-clearly-expressed mission, and that, my friends, is faith.  Obadiah does what God requires, and God comes through.

Lastly, how can we forget about Ahab?  No, he's no follower of God the Father or God the Son.  No, he doesn't live a life of faith and tenacity.  No, he's not even a good man.  But he still knows who is in control.  Though king of Israel, when Elijah - as God's mouthpiece - says "jump," Ahab only needs to know "how high?"  Elijah says "come," and Ahab comes (1 Ki. 18:16).  Elijah says to summon the people, and "Ahab sent word through all Israel" (vs. 20).  Elijah sends Ahab home, and "Ahab went off to eat and drink" (vs. 42).  Though Ahab may have done "more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him" (I Ki. 16:30), he cannot help but recognize - and obey - the voice of God.

So many interesting men in our reading today: Obadiah, Ahab, Elijah, Peter, Cornelius, Barnabas, Saul. 

- Sarah Marsh

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you.

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