Today’s readings.. Deuteronomy 22, Ecclesiastes Song of Solomon 2, Acts 14&15
Today we read about a serious conference that took place in Jerusalem among the disciples and other principal brethren about problems that had arisen among the believers. Some of the Pharisees who were now believers in Christ were advocating that the Gentiles whom Paul had been converting, that “it is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses” [Acts 15 v.5]
Peter recounts how God had acted to bring about the conversion and baptism of Cornelius and his relatives and friends so that “by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart, bore witness to them …” [v.7,8] How powerful to fully realize that “God knows the heart”! The result of the conference is that they decide to write to the Gentiles saying that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these you will do well …” [v.28,29] Nowadays, at least in this country, there is no sacrificing to idols or drinking blood or animals strangled so that they retain the blood in their bodies. The one thing that there is – here and it seems in all countries – is n increasing abundance is “sexual immorality.” It was widespread in those days as we see it is mentioned in nearly all the letters of the apostles and in the final messages of Jesus to the churches (Rev. 2 v.15,20)
The final message of Jesus in the last chapter in the Bible has Jesus telling us. “Behold I am coming soon (in God’s sense of ‘soon’ for he sees “one day is as a thousand years” [2 Peter 3 v.8]) bringing my recompense (reward) with me, to repay everyone for what he has done … Outside are the … sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” [Rev.22 v.12,15] Let all who know God in their hearts and realize he knows them – keep themselves from these. To really “know” God provides the strength to do this – and our regular reading and meditation on his word is an essential part of achieving this.