By Pastor Paul Van Buren
Reading: 1 Kings 12, 13; Acts 11
Good day my fellow saints,
What a wonderfully glorious day it is today. There is a lot going on in today’s reading so we need to get right to it.
Peter has been called to account by the Church Council for his time with the Gentile family. His reputation is shot but Peter is not apologizing. He simply explains the vision he had and what followed in the Gentile home. We all need to thank God for Peter’s obedience. It was soon after his report that word came back that a Gentile church had formed in Antioch. If Peter had not been the first to encounter what God was doing with the Gentiles things may have looked a bit different today (not really because nothing can frustrate God’s plan but I am trying to make a point here).
God chose Peter because Peter had the greatest influence over the others. He also chose him because Peter was a Jew’s Jew. If he was open to this then everyone would understand that something new was going on here. So when news came in from Antioch the Church Council was not immediately opposed, instead they sent someone to investigate. Why was this significant? Because Antioch was later to become the center of the Gentile church and eventually, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the center of the entire church. It was also to be Paul’s training ground. It was through Paul that our modern church received its understanding and teaching, most of which is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans. This is a significant moment you are reading about here and an example of what God is willing to accomplish through faithful servants.
This is in contrast to what we read in the Old Testament part of our reading today. Solomon is dead and his son loses the united kingdom because of the arrogance of his youth, but this is actually God’s will. God sets up another king to lead Israel while Solomon’s son leads the tribe of Judah. This was decided by God after Solomon started worshipping other gods. I remind you of the covenant God made with Jeroboam before he became king of Israel, while Solomon was still king of a united kingdom:
However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.’ " (1 Kings 11:37-39)
All Jeroboam had to do was obey God. But Jeroboam became a fake king who set up a fake religion. From day one he showed that his only concern was to maintain a power that God had already promised him. He feared the people going back to Solomon’s son if they went to the temple in Jerusalem to make sacrifices to God. So he created two golden calves, re-wrote history to say that this god brought them out of Egypt and then set up two places for sacrifices. All this to simply keep the people from going to Jerusalem.
Hmmm… I wonder if we could draw any parallels to our current age where they continue to re-write history to suit their own designs. They are very good at removing the motivation behind some of the great heroes of history, the motivation of the founding of nations, the motivation of great inventions and discoveries. They would try to remove from the history books those great moments when these people decided to trust God and walk in obedience. Their motivation? To make it as simple as possible let us say, to free everyone from God’s righteousness so they may have the freedom to live as sinfully as they desire. And it’s working. But we are not called to this. We cannot do much about a society bent on destruction, but we can do something about you and me.
This brings us to the story within the story. There was a prophet who was sent to warn Jeroboam. He was given exact instructions neither to eat food or drink water in this place nor to return by the route he came. He was following these instructions when he was cut off by another prophet who lied to him. This second prophet was lonely for godly company so he lied to get the first prophet to stay. He led this man into sin and into his death.
This is a huge warning to us. As society re-writes its own history, rules and laws there are some Christians who are going along with it. They lack the understanding or fortitude to stand in God’s holiness and righteousness and in turn they are trying to convince others to come along with them. They pass themselves off as teachers as they try to re-write the Word of God. But God’s Word is eternal and never changes. True followers of Jesus confess that their first citizenship is in the Kingdom of God not the society of man and the true follower lives by the holy Word of God not the twisted words of man.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
All of this describes the times we live in but none any better than the last part, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Anything for self-gratification, including the re-writing of laws and history. We need to be sure of our God, of who we are in our God and to resist the voice of the multitude of wannabe Christians who are thinking there is safety in numbers. We serve a Holy God who requires obedience from his people:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:10-16)
It’s time to take back the Church for the glory of God. It is time for us to stand on the mountain top and cry out repentance to our brothers and sisters who are justifying themselves with a fake religion that has been set up to serve man. It is time for us all to submit ourselves to God and allow him to purify us again. Let us choose today to walk in obedience as Peter did, regardless of the cost, and see what God will cause to happen to this beautiful Bride we call the Church. I have chosen to walk in the WAY of Jesus. I am a follower of the King of all glory and I will show my love to him in my obedience to his commands. Join me my brothers and sisters. Let us seek the holy face of the God of Jacob.
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