Today’s readings.. Deuteronomy 21, Song of Solomon 1, Acts 13
We consider today’s chapter 13 in Acts to be one of the most ‘powerful’ in the Scriptures in the way it portrays the essential challenge to all men and women, young and old, of whether they are on God’s side or not. And, if they are on God’s side, then, whether they truly see the meaning of life as God sees it.
Paul and Barnabas come to Antioch in Pisidia, which is in central southern Turkey. There is a large synagogue there and Paul is invited to give them a message (v.15/16). This would be because of his training as a Pharisee and maybe because he came from Tarsus which was not too far away.
As with Stephen, he stresses all the actions of God in directing the course of history. He begins by addressing those “who fear God.” The Creator of all things only focuses his attention on those who believe and are in awe of him. Paul gives them a history lesson as Stephen had done in Jerusalem (Ch 7). It is a lesson of all the actions of God in the past to make himself known – from the time they were delivered from Egypt.
The verses are obviously only a brief summary of what Paul said; he then says, “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God (i.e. the Gentiles who also heard him), to us has been sent the message of this salvation” [v.26]. He then recounts the death and resurrection of Jesus and says, “through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him (Jesus) everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses.” [v.38,39] Then Paul quotes the prophets as a warning to those who reject the message, “Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.” [v.41, quoted from Habakkuk 1 v.5] Some “began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him” [v.45] In response “Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles” (i.e. non-Jews)[v.46] Today the main reason why so many thrust aside the message is different. The theory is everywhere taught – and now largely accepted – that all things that exist came about by chance – and there is no Creator – also that nearly everyone today likes to live and act as they please.
Is that your way of thinking? Are you judging yourself “unworthy of eternal life?”