GOOD MORNING SIBLINGS!
Today, we begin the book of Acts. Our readings are Acts 1-3
- Most scholars agree that that book of Acts was written by Luke. In fact, if you read the opening of the book of Acts and the opening for the book of Luke you’ll see why many refer to it as Luke Part 2.
- In this book we will see Messiah ascend to Heaven, Matthias chosen as the new 12th apostle to take the place of Judas, the Holy Spirit descend, the first Believer is martyred, Saul (A Jew, whose Roman name was Paul) becomes a believer in Messiah, and the apostles are finally sent to preach the good news beyond the Jews, to Gentiles.
- For us as Gentiles, the book of Acts details monumental events that directly affect us on a very personal and eternal level. But many dismiss these very events as having entirely different meanings or even use them to try to circumvent and usurp the authority of all Scripture up until this point. We’ll talk about that in a few days.
- Essentially, there are two ways of looking at Acts – as a continuation of a the story of YHWH’s people which began in the very beginning or as the beginning of an entirely new story, completely untethered to all that we have read up until this point. Surprisingly, much of modern Christianity treats it as the latter.
I want to be clear regarding my position on the Bible: It is one continuous story, as relevant today as it was the day our Father first breathed life into existence. His Word is timeless, His Wisdom is eternal, and He does not change. I do not see anything in the Bible, start to finish, that contradicts YHWH’s word and I see Paul, who we will meet and get to know in this book, as a man of YHWH, a dedicated Jew, who, after His great encounter, kept YHWH’s Word and would never contradict or change it in any way.
If we see, in what we read, new information that seems to contradict the Word and Wisdom that YHWH has gifted us with, I would like to present to you that perhaps we are looking at it through the lens of inherited knowledge rather than the lens of YHWH’s Word.
Let the Bible interpret the Bible.
Imagine it as you would a map. You have a map laid out on the hood of your car but it is facing the wrong way. Now, you can look at this map and see a lot of accurate information. The roads are all there where they should be on paper, the names are correct, and you can see where everything is supposed to be. But, because our map is not oriented properly, if we were to take one of those roads it would not lead to where it was supposed to lead.
What do we do? Is the map wrong? No.
Our view of it is.
We need to reorient our map.
The Word of YHWH is the standard to which all else must line up. It is what Messiah and all of the Apostles, taught by, studied, and lived by. As obedient servants of YHWH, they honored Him and all of His teachings and would not dare to contradict or teach against them. So, if we begin to read something that, in our minds, feels as if it is contradicting YHWH, we must dig deeper using the tools we have acquired through diligent study of the Word.
Wrestle with it, investigate it, and know that the Word of YHWH is the straight edge to which all else must line up, not the other way around.
Context is absolutely vital in study of the Word, even more so in these upcoming books. We need to look at who is speaking, who they are speaking to, and the verses both before and after key points in order to fully understand what those key points are.
It is easy to pull a verse from the Bible and pretzel twist it to make us feel good and get quick fix warm fuzzies, but when we do that we are depriving ourselves of the fullness of YHWH’s Word, which is infinitely more satisfying and longer lasting then a simple quote pulled out of context and cut from the anchor of it’s deeper meaning.
We must realize that the Bible is a whole. From start to finish, it tells a story. We cannot come into the last act of a play and expect to have any understanding of the plot, twists, or meaning.
If, after all of this, you still read something written by an apostle that you feel contradicts, usurps, or cancels out part of YHWH’s Word, I still submit to you that the roads are there but the map is misaligned.
However, even after all of that if you become adamantly convinced that Paul or anyone else is going against the word of YHWH – for goodness sake, side with YHWH! This is ALWAYS the best strategy.
Err on the side of siding with YHWH because you can never ever err by standing with Him. In time, He will honor that and bring about clarity of understanding so that you see, once again, that the apostle/author was siding with Him as well.
Points about our reading today:
Acts 1:6 Reminds us that they had predetermined ideas about the timeline in which Messiah would operate. Remember that it was ideas such as these which caused many to reject Him as the Messiah but these preconceived notions were things they, themselves came up with. I try to be so very careful to examine my thoughts on a continual basis and make sure I am not harboring such preconceived notions about how the Father will carry out His promises. Scripture gives us a lot of details but it leaves a lot vague as well – for a reason. We must be careful to remember:
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29
Father has given us tremendous wisdom, but the things He has left us unaware of belong to Him alone. Don’t be temped to fill in the blanks that He has left empty for His good purpose and according to His will.
In Acts 1:12 we see that mount Olivet is a “Sabbath’s Day’s Journey” away. This is referring to the rabbinic tradition of limiting how far a person can travel on the Sabbath. It was (and is still by many) preferred that we stay near home, resting and fellowshipping with those that the Father has gathered around us in proximity. However, this limitation of travel is NOT a commandment but tradition. I’m all about it because I just really like being home though. Click here to read more about the measurement of a Sabbath’s Day journey on Biblegateway.
And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 1:13-14
These are, of course, the names they were given in English. In some cases they are similar to their actual names and in some cases people were given entirely different names, such as in the case of James, Messiah’s brother, whose name would translate to Jacob in English. His name was changed to James with the writing of the King James Bible. I call Him Jacob in my own study – it’s good to revolt against an earthly king when the opportunity is noble, simple, and presents itself. <— this statement was humor. But I do prefer to call Him Jacob because I am a bit of a rebel. Just a bit.
Purely for interest and because I find it fascinating, here is that same verse with their actual Hebrew names transliterated into English in how they would sound if we pronounced them as they heard them in their lifetimes (Two of them had Greek names which were common ones among Hebrews of the time):
After entering the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. The names of the emissaries were Kefa, Ya‘akov, Yochanan, Andreas, Philippos, T’oma, Bar-Talmai, Mattityahu, Ya‘akov Ben-Halfai, Shim‘on “the Zealot,” and Y’hudah Ben-Ya‘akov. These all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women, including Miryam (Yeshua’s mother), and his brothers.
In Acts 1:21-22 we see the requirements for being one of the apostles.
In Acts 1:26 we see Matthias chosen as the replacement apostle to take the place of Judas. This is often overlooked and it is assumed, by those who haven’t read the Bible carefully, that Paul took this place.
Acts 2:1 Pentecost is also known as Shavuot. You know how I have mentioned before that the Feasts of YHWH are actually tools that teach us of our past and tell us of what YHWH will do in the future? There are 8 appointed times, 7 of those are annual, one is weekly. Of the 7 Appointed times, the Spring ones have been fulfilled and the fall ones are yet to be fulfilled. Today we are reading about Shavuot being fulfilled.
A very significant thing about this day that most may not realize is that the people were gathered together because they were keeping the Feast according to commandment. Shavuot is one of three feasts in which they were required to travel to Jerusalem. This is why they were gathered. They had been counting seven Sabbaths since the Feast of First Fruits (Lev 23) which leads up to Pentecost. These seven weeks are special Sabbaths because they are commanded to be counted. See Leviticus 23:15 (no really, read it real quick) and then put that in your back pocket for later.
What is so awesome about Pentecost? Well, the Father declared it Holy and commanded us to observe it throughout our generations, as a feast dedicated to Him. He said they are His feasts so that makes it pretty important to us as people who follow and worship Him.
But what else happened on Pentecost? This is around the time (many believe the same day) that YHWH gave Moses the Ten Commandments – and now here we see YHWH giving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Remember, this is not the first time YHWH has given His spirit but it is a significant moment in the life of all Believers in that the Spirit is now available to dwell within us and cause us to seek after Him.
This is part of the New Covenant:
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34
Ruh Roh wait! The New Covenant is with the House of Judah and the House of Israel!
What about us?
Hey hey hey, remember? Isaiah 56, Romans 11, and hang on, because we have another proof verse coming as well. We have been grafted into the House of Israel. Not replaced but grafted into the same root. GLORY!
Also, did you catch what the New Covenant is again? Not an abolishment of His commandments. Heavens no! They are blessings! But a writing of them on our hearts and a desire placed within those who follow Him to keep them. The Holy Spirit is part of that plan.
About speaking in tongues… Let us read this verse and then talk about it.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Acts 2:4-8
Notice that the Father caused them to speak in tongues so that those present who spoke another language would be able to understand. This served a very specific, God breathed purpose. Unfortunately, many see the ability to speak in tongues as a litmus test to determine whether or not someone is a Believer. This is in no way Biblical. How will we know if someone is a believer, by the fruit in their lives. By their desire to follow YHWH’s commandments.
In Acts 3:21-26 we see more affirmation of Scripture as given through Moses and the Prophets.
I have so much more I want to write about but this is already so long so I am going to leave you with this beautiful thought:
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!