2 Kings 4:18-5:27, Acts 15:1-35, Psalms 141:1-10, Proverbs 17:23
Today is the 23rd day of June welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I am Brian it is great to be here with you today as we gather around the Global Campfire and move forward together on our adventure through the Scriptures this year. And the trail leads us back out into second Kings where we are getting kinda moved in and getting to know the lay of the land and getting to know the prophet, Elisha. And we kinda left the story in the middle yesterday. A woman and her husband had built Elisha a room on the top of their house. He had begun to stay there. He wanted to do something nice for her. In the end he told her about this time next year you will have a son and she did and that’s where we pick up the story. So, today second Kings chapter 4 verse 18 through 5 verse 27.
Okay. So, in the book of Acts today we have this retelling of what is known as the Jerusalem Council and in an understated way the Bible tells us something that happened that so monumentally shifted things. And we talked about this just a few days ago when we were with Peter up on top of the roof and the sheets coming down with the unclean animals and him going to Caesarea to minister to Cornelius who was a Roman centurion, a Gentile, and yet the Holy Spirit fell upon his household, and they were saved. Well…Paul and Barnabas are off on a missionary journey throughout the Roman empire, and they are indeed going to the Jewish community in whatever city they go to but so often they’re pushed out by the Jewish community, but the Gentiles are listening, and the Lord is doing a mighty work among Jew and Gentile alike even though they are facing an incredible amount of opposition. So, Hebrew people, Jewish people who were religiously devout, fully committed to the Mosaic law, fully committed to obeying God’s through the law, they never really had the concept that accepting Jesus was some kind of new religion of some sort. It was a Jewish thing. Jesus was the Hebrew Messiah. Things indeed were being fulfilled but for the Jewish people. And the whole thing was in a Jewish context. And, so, it’s not unfair to see how they would assume that. So, even Pharisees, even religious scholars were believing in Jesus, but again they never thought it was outside of a Jewish context. And, so, some believers went to some of the other churches and among the Gentiles and preached that the Gentiles…and I’m quoting from the book of Acts, “the Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” They said, “unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” Well, that’s going to be a problem for Gentile people who don’t understand why circumcision would have anything to do with anything. Like you would need to be in a Hebrew context to understand the meaning of circumcision and the covenant that it represents. So, this causes confusion, confusion among the Gentile believers who are like, “are we doing this right? Is this the way to go? Like what are we supposed to do here?” This causes Paul and Barnabas to go to Jerusalem where the Jerusalem Council occurred. And people argued at this Council as told in the book of Acts on both sides. So, on the one side you have Hebrew believers in Jesus who believe Jesus was fully in a Jewish context and was for the Jewish people and what His work did was for the Jewish people. And, so, if you wanted to be in with Jesus you needed to kinda convert to Judaism and begin to obey the Mosaic law, the law of God and then honor Jesus and worship Him as the Jewish Messiah, the anointed One, of God, whereas people like Peter and Paul and Barnabas had already seen what God was choosing to do. They had been out in ministry among Gentile people and were watching God make the decision. Like if the Lord sends his Holy Spirit upon people well then God’s making that decision. And that was the argument in favor of the Gentiles. And, so, ultimately a decision was made that, no Gentiles don’t need to convert to Judaism and begin to try to bear the burden of the Mosaic law when even Jewish people have never been able to bear that burden. They shouldn’t be burdened in other words. Gentile people shouldn’t be burdened with things that they don’t even know what they are. Like they have never ever, ever had that contextualized. They’ve been Pagans worshiping many false gods and now they want to come to the one true God. And, so, they don’t need, you know, a mile long list of rules and regulations that they gotta even understand what the context is before they can begin to serve God. And, so, they wrote a letter and sent it back. And that is beautiful and that indeed affirms all are welcome. Like all of us who are Gentile are welcome into the family of God. But that’s not the end of the story and we’ll see it crop up throughout the letters of Paul, especially. Because even though a determination or a decision was made at the Council not everyone was on board with that decision. That has been true throughout all of church history. There are many church councils that we can look at and there were a lot of debate and a lot of people branded as heretics after the fact when they wouldn’t get on board with what everyone had decided. And, so, not everyone was on board with the Jerusalem Council. This is profoundly monumental though in the life of the church, not only because of…because of its inclusiveness, inviting everyone in the world to come to Jesus, but because of the social repercussions. Up until this time Jewish people were considered strange, but a people who were practicing a very ancient religion and were supposed to separate themselves. And, so, they’re in the Roman Empire and they are allowed to worship only their God. Like they have a little bit of, essentially, religious exemption because in the Roman Empire this is a polytheistic culture. They worship many many gods and it’s wide open. In the Roman Empire you can worship any god that you want to worship but there are also the gods of the Empire and those gods everybody has to worship. You can worship any other gods that you want to in addition, but you have to give your loyalty to the gods of the Empire, the gods who made Rome great. Obviously, that will not work for a Hebrew person, and they were given an exemption. They did not have to do that. They didn’t have to go sacrifice to the gods of the Empire etc. etc. etc. but everybody else did. What we see happening at the Jerusalem Council is a distinction is being made. People aren’t going to welcome Gentile’s wholesale into the Jewish community. And, so, a line gets drawn and people who are following Jesus then began to be separated from Orthodox practicing Jews because these Christians, Jewish or Gentile, they are allowing Gentiles, they are allowing something that’s not allowed. And, so, it could be argued that they’re not really practicing Judaism anymore. And that’s what happens. They get shoved into the margins where they don’t have any place of refuge. And as Christians resist they get marginalized themselves until they are…well…for a period of time really considered the problem and tremendous persecution breaks out. So, understanding that what we read today really really affected the world going forward is important for us to sort of understand the lay of the land or the context, how this all happened and how it is that the faith was passed down through all of the generations until we had the opportunity to believe as well and participate in the family of God. And, so, let’s remember this because it’s really important to our history.
Father, we love You. We love Your word. We thank You for Your word. We thank You for Your kindness in our lives to allow us to have it and that we can pour over it and look into the stories and see how things moved out from Jerusalem and how they ended up in our time and in our hearts. And Father, we see that the early church has to grapple with things that they don’t understand and deal with problems that look pretty complicated, and we thank You for Your guidance certainly in that time, by the power of Your Holy Spirit but we also face things are pretty complicated in our own lives and we need that same power. We need Your Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. And, so, that is what we pray for once again. Come Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus we ask. Amen.
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Our Daily Audio Bible family holiday is coming up on the seventh day of July, also known as the Daily Audio Bible long walk, an opportunity for us to carve out a little bit of time, to set aside a single day out of the year to recognize that we’re in the middle of the year and regrouping is often a good thing and reflection is a good thing. So, we take that day and go out into nature, into beauty, maybe a lake that’s nearby, maybe a park that’s down the street, maybe a national Park that’s hours away, maybe somewhere that no one else would find beautiful but it’s very very meaningful to you, we go there, and we take a long walk with God. Like, time stands still. No hurry. No rush. An opportunity to say everything that’s in our hearts that we been meaning to find time to say having a conversation with God, with no alarm to tell us our time is up with God. It’s an opportunity to go for that long, long walk like you would when you fell in love and realize how beautiful the world is that God has made and how He is loving us and restoring us through beauty and how interesting it is to see how much life is all around us all happening all around us and we’re so rarely paying attention. And regrouping and paying attention to what the second half of the year is going to look like. It’s been a remarkable thing to do as a community all over the world all of these years and it’s something that I look forward to personally every year. Like to know that there’s a day that is set aside for exactly this. And obviously if we’re going for a long walk in nature somewhere beautiful by ourselves spending the day with God it’s like a solitary thing to do, but it’s also a beautiful community experience here, which makes it the Daily Audio Bible holiday for us because even though we are where we are, there are thousands of brothers and sisters all over the world that are doing the same thing where they are. And, so, we put a post on our Facebook page for the Daily Audio Bible for the long walk and just invite you. Like, when you go you’re probably gonna have your phone with you, you’re probably not gonna go without your phone. The trick is to not be on your phone all day in this time that you’ve set aside to go for a long walk with God, but you probably want to take a picture. You might want to shoot a video. You might want something to remember the day that you spent on a long walk with God. And just choose a picture that you took or choose a video or whatever and post that to the Daily Audio Bible Facebook page in the long walk post and all of the sudden we get to do it all over again. Like we get to kinda scroll through and see the amazing beauty of the earth all over the world all on the same day. And it’s so fun. I love it. I love it so very very much. Looking forward to that coming up on the seventh day of July. So, that’s two weeks from today. So, make plans for that. I’m very much looking forward to enjoying it together as a community for another year.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian. I love you and will be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer and Praise:
Posting later in the day today…