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It seems God still tries to woo Israel over inspite of her disobedience and idolatry...Ahab wasn't really seeking God's opinion before going into battle yet God gave him victory...and showed him mercy....
As I read the NT reading,I realised something....the word of God spread and increased because the church wasn't just a place people met when they needed prayers,a word....or just something to do...worshipping and fasting was a great part of their life..I pray that those with a similar longing in their hearts come together....like iron sharpens iron,let them sharpen each other....
God bless you all

Did anyone notice the way God raised up leaders from the Antioch church? In Acts 11:19 we saw how a few of the believers broke out of their Jewish ethnocentricity to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. A wonderful work of God was done there. "the power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord." acts 11:20-21 But then we see how they mature through Saul and Barnabas' efforts over the period of a year. You can't microwave growth. It has to be intentional. These converts were cared for and discipled and brought to a level of maturity that we see in Acts 13. i say all this to say when we get to Acts 13 we have leaders emerging out of the Antiochian church. Already in this young faith community the gifts of prophet and teacher and apostle and teacher were being utilized. I think we can learn a lot more from these chapters in Acts then the latest church growth books.

Point of Transition

There is a reason that the church thrived in Antioch.

My first group Bible Study as a Christian was Acts, but I came in on the 16th? chapter. I had read quickly through the first 15 chapters to catch up and I missed the transition in chapter 12.

Bob summed it up very well in his "Conclusions" to yesterday's commentary. For those that did not get a chance, or choose not to read bob's work - enclosed are some excerpts below with a link back to yesterday's commentary.

["The first lesson to understand from our passage, and its broader context, is that this is a clear point of transition. Acts 12 is the end of one era, and chapter 13 is the beginning of another. Acts 12 is the account of the passing of Peter. Not that Peter passes from the scene by virtue of his death, but he passes from the scene by virtue of his absence. Chapter 12, in large measure, is a farewell to Peter, as chapter 13 is the commencement of a strong emphasis on Paul’s ministry.

But it is not merely the passing from the scene of one leader (Peter) and the rise to prominence of another (Paul). This change in personalities is but a signal, a pointer, to a much larger change—the transition from the Jews to the Gentiles, and from Jerusalem to Antioch. From here on out, the churches that are founded and that grow are predominantly Gentile in makeup. The Jewish church in Jerusalem and those saints who gathered in synagogues around the world of that day faded away, much like Peter. The reason is explained by Paul in Romans 9-11. The times of the Gentiles have begun, and the time of Israel’s hardening has come as well. Many Gentiles will be saved, but few Jews. Because of this, the church will become predominantly Gentile for centuries to come, until the return of our Lord which is yet future.

The arrest of Peter, and the intent of Herod and the Jews to kill him, is a very significant and final element in the judicial hardening of the Jews by God and in the conversion of many Gentiles. Up to this point in time, the gospel continued to be proclaimed in Israel. God’s arms were opened wide, and the Jews were urged to turn to Jesus as God’s Messiah. But now, virtually all Israel has heard the good news, and all Israel (with the exception of those saved) has rejected the gospel. The final rebellion and rejection of Israel is reported here, in Acts 12, just prior to the sending out of Barnabas and Saul from Antioch. God’s evangelistic thrust to the Gentiles in chapter 13, Luke is saying, is the result of Israel’s rejection of Jesus as the Christ (and of His church)....

....Now, in Acts 12, we see the final opposition movement in Jerusalem and Judea, before the destruction of that city by the Roman armies in 70 AD. It is not the leaders of the Jews who oppose the church here, but Herod and the Jewish people at large. Herod, not due to the pressure of the Jewish religious leaders, but by his own initiative, goes after the apostles and seeks to destroy the church. And the masses of the Jewish people love it, spurring him on. This is the last straw, for now virtually every segment of the society of Jerusalem has rejected Jesus and His church. Will God commence the conversion of Gentiles en masse? It is because Israel, en masse, has rejected the gospel. Now the gospel will go to the Gentiles. Thus, the actions of Herod and of the Jewish people become the basis for God’s turning His back upon this people and this place for many years to come, even to the present day. There will be a remnant saved, but only a small segment of the Jews, during this time of the Gentiles. This is the rejection foreseen by our Lord at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, with its subsequent judgment. No wonder our Lord wept over this city and its fate. The day of salvation for Israel as a nation has passed."]



Vineyard into a vegetable garden.

Interesting thought from a footnote in Bob's commentary:

Iain Provan makes a very interesting observation at this point. He points out that the expression “vegetable garden” occurs only one other time in the Bible, in Deuteronomy 11:10. Here, God contrasts the land of Israel with Egypt, which was like a “vegetable garden.” There, you merely had to dig a little trench with your foot to water your “vegetable garden” by means of irrigation. But the land of Israel was dependent upon God to send the rains which were required to grow any crops. Naboth’s property was a vineyard. Israel was likened to God’s vineyard (cf. Isaiah 5:1-7). One does get the impression that Ahab, once again, was out of step with God. God wanted to take Israel from dwelling in a “vegetable garden” and to “plant” them where they would be His “vineyard.” Ahab wanted to acquire a “vineyard,” and turn it into a “vegetable garden.” I think Provan has something here. Iain W. Provan, 1 and 2 Kings (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), pp. 157-158.

When Ahab could not get it he sulked. He is always sullen, sulking, or pouting when he does not get his way - just like a child. No wonder Jezebel had him wrapped around her finger.

This seemed entirely characteristic of Ahab. He seemed to be a spineless, pouting man who reacted this way when he met any kind of adversity.... "So the scene is a vivid picture of peevish Ahab turning his face to the wall and refusing to eat. He was like a sulking child who could not get his own way." (Dilday)

Scapegoat and perhaps whole family killed.

Proclaim a fast: The idea was that some evil or calamity came upon Israel, and a scapegoat had to be found for the evil. Jezebel intended that Naboth be revealed as the scapegoat.

2 Kings 9:26 indicates that the crime was even worse than this, connecting the murder of Naboth with the blood of his sons. It is likely that the entire family of Naboth was murdered, so no heirs were left to claim his property. - David guzik

Elijah shows up

"To the widow of Zarephath Elijah was an angel of light; whilst to Ahab he was an enemy . . . What you are, determines whether Elijah will be your friend or your enemy." (Meyer)

Instead of sulking at the prophecy Ahab repents, or does he?

"But this humiliation or repentance of Ahab's was only external and superficial, arising from the terror of God's judgments; and not sincere and serious, proceeding from the love of God, or a true sense of his sin, or a solemn purpose of amendment of his life, as appears, because all the particulars of his repentance here, are external and ritual only; nor is there the least intimation of any one sign or fruit of his true repentance, as that he restored Naboth's land, or reproved his infamous wife; but in the very next chapter you find him returning to his former vomit." (Poole)

Acts 13

Ministry in Paphos

So often Paul ministers in strongholds of other gods..

Paphos: This city was known for its immorality: “Paphos was infamous for its worship of Venus, the goddess of [sexual] love” (Barclay). We will see in Paphos a familiar combination: Immorality connected with spiritual darkness.

venus was said to have originated here - coming ashore on her seashell onto the beaches of the island.

Seems they had their own da Vinci code going on back then:
Bar-Jesus translated "son of Jesus."

Elymas' sin is compounded by deceiving the pro-consul regarding Christ.

If you want to commit spiritual suicide, that’s one thing. But how dare you bring others down with you? If you want to give up on the things of God and grow bitter in your heart against Him, that’s your choice. But it is a heavy sin to draw anyone else away with you, either with your words or your example. - David Guzik

The interesting thing to me, is the pro-consul was amazed at the teaching (Greek also translated "doctrine") about the Lord. Kind of reinforces that idea of signs and wonders being secondary. The blindness of Elymas may have got his attention, but it was Jesus' message that amazed the pro-consul and he had "faith".

Going to keep track here, but it does seem that Paul often stops first in the synagogues before going "out in town". I wonder if this is to reach people like Cornelius - "God-fearing" - visitors to synagogue. Paul going to the most fertile gorund first - to establish a beachhead????

Proverbs hit home to me. My parents paid for my tuition during school. However, I came to the point where I was dropping classes left and right and then withdrawing from school -- wasting my parents money.

What happened? My parents said, "If you want to go to college you will pay for it. When you finish the course and can show us your grade (it had to be a C or above) we will reimburse you for the expenses."

Well, I finished my education only when I made up my mind that I was going to do it. The best thing is that because I had to work for it -- I took more ownership of the education. It goes back to Nehemiah 4:6 -- I finally had a *mind to work*.

I must say that the verse that stands out the most in todays reading is Psalm 137:9. Verses 8 and 9 they state:
"O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that
rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and
dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

I looked in one of the commentary links you put up on the page and it said this:

"I assume that the problem is with God giving a blessing on those who dash
little ones against stones. And, though I know that God's ways are not
always our ways and His judgments are often accused of being cruel by
those who have no understanding of godly judgment, the understanding of
this verse is incorrect. God is not recommending the smashing of babies'
heads. Let me explain.

First, this verse is predictive and not prescriptive. That is, God is
foretelling the future; He is not giving instructions on what He wants
others to do. This is very important. Babylon had been exceedingly cruel
to Israel as well as to other nations. In judgment, they would receive
the cruelty they had given. However, the Israelites to whom this psalm
is written were not the ones who would apply the judgment. That was left
to the Medes and the Persians. God was not instructing them what to do;
He was telling them what would happen."

I understand the commentary But, it is still a harsh verse to swallow. I do not question God and I know that He is a merciful Lord. But, there are times in the bible when He commands Israel to totally abolish a civilization, including woman and children. You see God sees the whole scope of the matter, not just the now and here. He sees the future, past and present all at the same time. I trust and believe the reason why He sends a whole civilization to be destroyed it is to erase there evil from the land and destroy all possibility of that civilization hurting Israel, His chosen people. These civilizations were very cruel. They were pagan and the bible says they would sacrifice their children by putting them through fire. They did untold horrors.
God's way our not our ways. There are things we will never understand. Only He does! So we must trust in Him and His mighty wisdom and know that He is in control of everything and He has a divine purpose for everything. He is a just God and He loves us!

I Kings 20:1-21:29

Today’s reading gives proof that the goodness, blessings and mercies of God fall on the just and the unjust. Ahab, an ungodly king is given godly wisdom and favor. God’s mercies reign down on him to show him for a second time that God is indeed God over all the false gods that he and his wife, Jezebel, look to for guidance and protection.

Even when Ahab keeps alive Ben-hadad, whom he should have killed, even after acquiring Naboth’s Vineyard by giving his wife free reign to do as she pleases, the mercy of God (not getting what one truly deserves) the judgment called upon him by Elijah is stayed because Ahab humbles himself. However, the judgment is not really stayed only delayed until the next generation.

Someone must serve our choices, our decisions because we live in a cause and effect world. If we truly care for future generations, we will temper our choices and decisions with the Wisdom of God. For better or worse, they will suffer the consequences, good or bad, of the choices we make.

Acts 12:24-13:15

Matthew 6
24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in). AMP

Opposition to the gospel when really looked at is all about money and how to gain possession of more. Paul states in his letter to Timothy (I Timothy 6:10), For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Although we screw this up and say money is the root, it really is the love of money. Elymas, the sorcerer was about to loose his meal ticket so his opposition to the Gospel centered on his appetite for recognition and the wealth his status would bring him. Little did he know there are greater riches to be had. These riches are not measured by human standards but God’s standards. The God, who created all things, including the gold, silver and diamonds man seeks after, gives us Himself. He is that Pearl of Great Price.

Psalm 137:1-9

For Christians our Jerusalem is carried in our hearts. Jerusalem = "teaching of peace" according to the Hebrew Lexicon. Jesus said in the fourteenth chapter of John,
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Since Jesus gave us peace then our Jerusalem is within us, in our hearts. So unlike the exiles who were captives in Babylon, no matter our circumstances, no matter our longitude or latitude we can always sing praises to our God. We are without excuse.

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