2 Kings 20:1-22:2, Acts 21:18-36, Psalms 150:1-6, Proverbs 18:9-10
Today is the 2nd day of July welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I am Brian it’s great to be here with you today as we…well…we’re just kinda getting’ moved into this 7th month and just settling into the second half of the year and getting’ ready for the long walk in a few days, but we are here and we are here now and the next step forward will lead us back into second Kings. We’ve been reading the story about King Hezekiah and we have a few more days before we will conclude the book of second Kings and move forward there. But like I said, we are here. So, let’s dive in. Second Kings chapter 20 verse 1 through 22 verse 2 today. And we’re reading from the Christian Standard Bible this week.
Okay. So, in the book of Acts we’ve been journeying with the apostle Paul for a while now, sailing around, watching churches form, watching antagonism grow, and watching Paul be thrown out of cities and move on to the next. And we’ve then seen him move toward Jerusalem and find that he’s being warned all along the way that nothing…nothing pleasant is waiting for him in Jerusalem anyway. And Paul has been instructed by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem, even though he knows that affliction and chains are in his future. So, Paul sailed back to Caesarea yesterday, which is on the Mediterranean coast of Israel and then moved and inland, south east up to Jerusalem. So, he’s in Jerusalem today and he makes himself known to the Jerusalem church and they obviously know this is volatile situation and it’s here that we see Paul is the lightning rod because he’s been branded a heretic by some and is suspected of heresy by others among the Hebrew people and among the Hebrew people who believe in Jesus. So, it’s very easy for us to simply see Paul moving around and telling people about Jesus and people pushing back on that and the Jews being jealous of him and pushing back on that and just think, “well…this…this is what it took to bring the Good News. It was opposed and evil was set against it. And those things all can be true, but underneath all that is the story of what’s going on here in the early church. So, we had the Jerusalem Council which…which was a counsel that effectively attempted to answer the question, “who gets to be in? Who gets to be a disciple of Jesus? What do they have to do? What’s the criteria?” This is a big deal in the early church because you have one side of things, the Hebrew side of things, very resolutely defending their position that Jesus himself was Jewish, he was a Hebrew rabbi, he commented and taught on the Hebrew Scriptures, he lived in a Hebrew context. It’s just that he was the Messiah and fulfilled the law, which for them wasn’t to say that the law is abolished, and no one should live in that context. Nobody was being told to jettison their Hebrewness or even their Hebrew religiousness. Jesus was the continuation of that Hebrew story, a story that has had its ups and downs over thousands of years by that time. We’re reading that story. We know it has its ups and downs as we read through it, even thousands more years in the future. But for these Hebrew believers there’s no conversion. Their Messiah came. Like this is the fulfillment and they are going to continue to follow Jesus and continue to follow the law and revere it and live within its context, and that’s what they believe anyone who wants to follow Jesus should do. And fair enough. That is a valid argument. On the other side you have people like Paul and even the apostle Peter, although we’ll see later that the apostle Peter, kind of swayed back and forth…like was trying to live in both worlds and Paul confronts him about it and we’ll see this soon enough in the Scriptures. So, Paul has been ministering to the Gentiles. There has been a church council about this. Everyone has agreed, like nobody can obey the law perfectly. It’s been done by Jesus, but nobody has ever since its institution has ever been able to live up to it perfectly. And, so, the argument was, these Gentile people who are coming to faith in Christ, do they have to become Jewish to follow Jesus, or can they just follow Jesus since they don’t really know anything about Judaism? They haven’t been raised up in it. They’re not familiar with the culture at all. They are former pagans. That is a tough question to reason out if you are in this situation. And, so, what they did was take a cue from the Holy Spirit. In other words, it’s too difficult of a situation to actually make a decision. But the Holy Spirit has made this decision because the Holy Spirit is coming upon Gentile people who are confessing faith in Christ. So, God is making this decision, not us. The thing is, not everybody was on board with that and still isn’t on board with that. So, there is disagreement here at the very beginning. There’s disagreement about how things are supposed to work among the early church. So, Paul has his detractors who are believers in Jesus, but he has a vastly large amount of detractors among the Hebrew people because Paul is a trained Pharisee who has essentially, at least in their minds, turned his back on Moses, the Mosaic law with that God gave that has led this people and built their culture. He’s turned his back on this and is now claiming this Jesus guy and he’s out spreading this Jesus message all over the world to Jews and Gentiles alike so that this doesn’t really look like classical Judaism anymore. So, Paul is very easily branded a heretic in their minds they want to kill him. That’s what’s swirling around here. So, Paul coming back to Jerusalem where he was trained as a Pharisee, where he held the coats of people who work killing Stephen, the first Christian martyr, where he was getting letters from the high priest to travel around and round up these people, he shows back up in Jerusalem as an ambassador for this Jesus. So, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem are like, “this is a powder keg waiting to blow. Lots of people think they you are teaching things. You are…you are instructing Hebrew people to abandon the law and just follow Jesus. You’re saying all kinds of stuff and you are…you are in the heart of it all. So we gotta show the you know the culture, that they you understand and you observe the Mosaic law and that you are a Jew.” And, so, they come with this plan. There’s vows that are gonna be taken, there’s heads that are gonna be shaved, Paul’s gonna pay for it. It’s a very religious thing, that Hebrew people, very, very, very devout would do here. And, so, this is what Paul agrees to do and things are going well until he’s recognized. So, we leave today’s reading in the book of Acts and Paul is in chains, two of them to be specific, since the book of Acts gave us the detail. He’s chained with two chains. The people are swirling around this, like the mob mentality is in force and they’re trying to kill Paul and it’s the Roman soldiers that come in and pick Paul up and carry him out and we leave today’s reading trying to figure out what’s going on. That’s where the Roman soldiers are, “what is happening? who is this guy? What has he done?” And what we’re goona see, even though we’ve seen some pretty amazing things happen on the journeys of Paul and with the establishment of the churches, that Paul will never be free again for the rest of his life but his influence is only gonna grow.
Father, we thank You for Your word and we thank You for this look, this ability to look back and look objectively at the difficulties that were happening and the challenges that were being faced. And that…that helps us to interpret our own times, but it also helps us in our own hearts and lives as we follow the paths of those who have gone before us. And, so, come Holy Spirit and continue to lead and guide our steps as we continue to become more and more aware of Your presence in our lives. Come Jesus we pray. In Your mighty name, we ask. Amen.
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And what is coming up and going on around here is preparations for the 7th of July, which is our own little family Global Campfire holiday. It’s a day we set aside, go for a long walk with God. It’s called the long walk and that's…that’s it. Go somewhere beautiful. Go for a long walk with God understanding that this is the middle of the year and it’s time, right? We’ve been too busy we’ve been too frantic. It’s been too crazy out there and our fleeting prayers, yes, we are staying in touch with the Lord but we need a long walk and everything that we need to say needs to get said everything that we need to hear needs to get heard. It’s a re-group, a re-centering as we prepare for the second half of the year. So, that’s the long walk, that happens every July 7th. It’s something that you do alone but it’s something that we do together. And, so, you know, I’ll be going for a long walk, knowing that I may be walking by myself, but I’m not alone. Brothers and sisters all over the world are doing the same thing and together we are listening for the voice of the Lord in our lives to give us direction in the…in the coming months. So, make plans for that. This year is a little special. We have a brand-new resource that’s gonna release because it’s so…it wasn’t made for the long walk but it’s perfect for the long walk, it’s called Hearts, a contemplative journey. And it’s a guided prayer and musical journey exploring the depths of the emotions of our lives that we’ve been experiencing and just inviting God fully into those specific things. Kind of a great way to begin a long walk, to just acknowledge some things, to invite God into those things and to find comfort in melody and music and harmony and nature and beauty and opening ourselves from the frantic chaos that has been swirling around us because it takes some time to quiet our soul to be still. As the Bible describes it like…like a weaned child at its mother’s asked. And that’s the place we’re looking for, is this place that transcends all of the anxieties and regrets that we’re facing, all of the prospects for where this is all going, all of our fears, all of our aspirations, to get behind all of that to where God is and to where we truly are. We live in these circumstances, but that’s not us. That’s just what we are conscious of and facing. But behind it all is place that knows that He is God and that we are in the palm of His hand and we just need to find that place and that place can be found like this, going for a long walk and pouring out our souls and being still and silent and drinking in the beauty of the day that He gives us each and every day. So, that resource is available on the 7th of July. It is available for preorder now so that will just be waiting for you on the 7th of July. Just look Heart, a contemplative journey or you can search for my name at the iTunes store or Google Play or whatever. You can preorder it now in time for the long walk.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.