Monday, January 17, 2022

2022.01.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 1:9–26

Read Acts 1:9–26

Questions from the Scripture text: What had Jesus just done (Acts 1:9)? What were they doing? What happened to Him? What were the disciples doing in Acts 1:10? Who stood? Where? What were they wearing? What did the two men call them (Acts 1:11)? What did they ask? What did they say would happen? In what manner? Then where did the disciples go (Acts 1:12)? Where did they go when they got there (Acts 1:13)? Who? In what did they continue (Acts 1:14)? In what manner? Who else? Who stood up in those days, in the midst of whom (Acts 1:15)? How many were there altogether? What did Peter call them (Acts 1:16)? What did he say had to happen? Whom did he say spoke the Scripture? By whose mouth? Concerning whom? What had Judas become? Despite what recognition and privilege (Acts 1:17)? What had Judas purchased (Acts 1:18)? With what funds? And what else had he done? Who knew about this? What did they call the field? What was written where (Acts 1:20, cf. Psalm 69:25, Psalm 109:8)? From which men does Peter say to pick (Acts 1:21-22)? What would the selected man become (verse 22)? Whom did they propose (Acts 1:23)? What did they pray for (Acts 1:24-25)? What did they do in Acts 1:26? Upon whom did the lot fall? What was done, at that point, with Matthias? 

What do we do while we wait? That’s the big question for the apostles. Jesus has commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4). And He’s just spoken these things when He disappears from their sight (Acts 1:9). So, the answer to the men’s (angels) question in Acts 1:11 could well be that the disciples were “waiting.” But the special knowledge of the angels about Jesus’s return, coupled with the way they had asked the question, implied that they ought to have been doing something else. So, they obey more completely in Acts 1:12 and return to Jerusalem. Which brings us to the question: what to do while they wait?

Pray. We know from Luke 24:52–53 that their return was with joy, and that they were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. But apparently their days ended the way this first one did: going to an upper room and praying. There are eleven names in Acts 1:13, and then the women and Mary and His brothers in Acts 1:14. It seems improbable that the full 120 from Acts 1:15 would fit in this upper room. Nevertheless, the praying of this group is presented to us as a main feature of the waiting.

Follow Scripture. At the end of Luke, the Lord Jesus had identified His atoning work and the spread of the gospel as two things that Scripture prophesied and had to be fulfilled (cf. Luke 24:44–47). Now Peter says that Judas’s betrayal was also a fulfillment of Scripture (Acts 1:16-17, cf. Psalm 41:9). He marshals Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 (Acts 1:20) to reason that they should select a man who has as much as possible in common with the disciples to complete the number. 

Later, Jesus Himself completes the number by selecting the apostle Paul. And never again do we see the casting of lots after the Spirit comes—for Whom and for Whose wisdom they were to be waiting. And the ordination of a 12th apostle seems beyond His instruction to wait (cf. Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). So, it’s quite possible that Peter was wrong in his application. But the text provides no such judgment. What it does leave us with is that Jesus said they were to be witnesses (cf. Luke 24:48, Acts 1:8b), and that they are trying to work out what that means from Scripture. So ought we.

Trust the Lord. Although they were to be waiting for the Holy Spirit—upon Whom they would directly depend for decision-making from Pentecost forward—the practice of casting lots did have biblical precedent (cf. Proverbs 16:33). With two men who satisfied the requirements of Acts 1:21-22, this action was not trusting luck, but trusting the Lord Who “knows the hearts of all” and Whom they presume to have chosen one of them (end of Acts 1:25). 

We too, are waiting. The difference is that we have the promise of the Spirit fulfilled with us. To help with our praying. To help with our studying and obeying Scripture. To help with our trusting. And we have the ordinances of Christ for His church: Word, sacrament, and prayer, under the leadership of elders in spiritual ministry and deacons in material ministry. And we have all of the commandments and principles of Scripture. But still, what we do as we wait for the return is basically the same as we see in this passage: Pray (and praise), follow Scripture, and trust in the Lord. 

What role has the Lord given you in your home? In the church? What basic directives undergird both? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You have indeed planned our lives for us, and chosen us for the roles to which You have appointed us. Thank You for giving us to praise You and pray to You as the chief action of our lives. Grant us to understand and follow Your Word, trusting in You. We thank You for Your Spirit’s ministry to us, and ask that He might continue applying Christ and His benefits to us, which we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, At Your Word”

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