Today’s Reading: Joel 3:1–21, Acts 7:54–8:25, Job 19:1–12
Today’s Theme: Jesus Glorified
Today’s theme is about Jesus glorified, seen in the prophecy of the end and in Stephen’s vision.
Dividing the Land
I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, (Joel 3:2, ESV)
The reason that God judges the nations is for scattering His people and dividing the land of Israel. This is exactly what we are dealing with politically today.
Nations take note
Behold, I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will return your payment on your own head. (Joel 3:7, ESV)
God actively causes Tyre, Sidon and Philistia to reap what they have sown.
Reaping what we sow is not an automatic process, God is actively involved.
The valley of decision
Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14, ESV)
This is talking about the great battle of Armageddon which is to come.
“So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it. (Joel 3:17, ESV)
This gives us context that this part of the prophecy is connected to Jesus’ second coming.
And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56, ESV)
The Holy Spirit opened Stephens’s eyes to see Jesus glorified at the right hand of God. This had two purposes; firstly it would encourage his faith in this very difficult situation and secondly, it would serve as a witness to his accusers.
And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60, ESV)
To say this, Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit till the very end. He was also fulfilling Jesus’ new command to love our enemies and following His example on the cross.
The Gospel Spreads
And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1, ESV)
This shows the position of influence that Saul had and his murderous nature, before he met Jesus.
The persecution was used in God’s plan, to spread the Gospel further abroad.
Make an impact
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. (Acts 8:5, ESV)
Philip made a huge impact in Samaria, he proclaimed Christ and confirmed what he had proclaimed, by delivering those with demons and healing the sick.
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12, ESV)
The Gospel is not like magic, we are not trying to amaze people. We preach to solicit a response, a very conscious and thoughtful response to that which is preached, resulting in belief and the corresponding actions such as baptism.
Laying of hands
Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:17, ESV)
This laying on of hands was the practice of the Apostles, but is not the only way the Holy Spirit is given for service. The laying on of hands seems to have been used to draw out the wicked intention of Simon (notice the context, the text has focused on this character for a while).
The gift is God’s
But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! (Acts 8:20, ESV)
Ministry can be a dangerous thing for someone whose heart is not right. Simon just wanted to be seen as great and to exercise power, whereas God’s ministers serve the flock in love.
Also, this speaks against the practice in the prosperity movement today, where a “Man of God” is paid for various things, like giving a word of prophecy to someone.
Forgiveness is not automatic
Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. (Acts 8:22, ESV)
Notice the nature of forgiveness, it is not automatic. God is personally involved in forgiving His people, they do not deserve it and cannot demand it, but must ask for it so that God might show mercy and grace in granting repentance.
Keep your eyes on God
know then that God has put me in the wrong and closed his net about me. (Job 19:6, ESV)
Job continues to recognise that God has done this. The NT also encourages us not to compare ourselves to others, but to keep our eyes on God.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Acts 8