Today’s Reading: Hos 1:1–2:23, Acts 1:1–26, Job 15:1–9
Today’s Theme: Enduring Love
Today we begin two new books, Hosea and Acts. In Hosea we read about the unfaithfulness of Israel and God’s enduring love for His covenant people. We see this manifested in the New Testament as we observe the birth of the church and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Forsaking the Lord
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” Hosea 1:2 (ESV)
The fact that God uses this sort of language shows that for Him faithful relationship is more important than religious observance which is so often not done in truth.
We need to ask ourselves today, are we being faithful to God in the marriage like covenant relationship we have with Him? Have we forsaken the Lord in any way? Are we guilty of spiritual whoredom?
“Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband— that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst. Hosea 2:2–3 (ESV)
We must forsake spiritual adultery (loving and being dedicated to anything or anyone more than God) or suffer the shameful consequences. As well as open shame our thirst will not be satisfied, we will be in the torment of unfulfilled desire.
God is a jealous God, He will not share His glory (due honour, worship, praise, victory, beauty and admiration) with anyone else. His love for His covenant people will not settle for a marriage of convenience with no passion, love, faithfulness or single hearted devotion.
God, the one who provides
For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Hosea 2:5 (ESV)
God is our provider, we must be careful not to idolise other apparent sources like our jobs, family or friends.
Look past the means God uses to provide for you and see that it is by His grace that you have anything.
Pray for Backsliders
She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ Hosea 2:7 (ESV)
We should pray this for those who are in a backslidden state, we should pray that God would take away their satisfaction in sin.
We should find our ultimate satisfaction in God alone.
And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. Hosea 2:19–20 (ESV)
God’s love for Israel and His chosen people is strong and enduring.
God’s commitment to Israel is like a faithful husband’s for his wife. The Church has this too as the bride of Christ in the New Testament.
God’s love for us is enduring, our love for Him should be enduring too.
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 (ESV)
In the Greek the phrase many proofs was nearly always used in Greek historical works. It is a term belonging to the realm of historiographical biography which is what Luke has produced in this second volume (the 1st volume was Luke) where he provides apologetics to confirm and build our faith.
The Bible is no book of myths, this is a historical book rooted in real events filled with eyewitness, historically faithful reports contrary to the propaganda of the enemy which always marginalises the Bible as historically inaccurate.
This must have been an amazing time where Jesus taught the apostles about the kingdom of God. It is likely that Jesus explains the mission the Apostles as witnesses of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection had in founding the church and the twofold nature of the kingdom (now and not yet).
The restoration of Israel
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. Acts 1:7 (ESV)
Only God knows when the kingdom will be restored to Israel, this is all connected to Jesus’ second coming and the millennial kingdom.
Baptised in the Holy Spirit
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV)
The gift of the Holy Spirit was one of the surest signs that the Messiah had come and the new covenant age had begun.
Every Christian should be baptised with the Holy Spirit. This happens when we are born again in a general sense. However as we walk with the Lord we should always ask God to fill us with His Spirit.
We receive the Holy Spirit to be witnesses, it is for a very functional rather than mystical reason. We receive power to be witnesses to Jesus like the first disciples.
Jesus will not come through birth again
and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11 (ESV)
Another verse to deal with any cult that says Jesus has returned in some other form like the Rastafarians, Mormons or Jehovahs Witnesses
God’s new people
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 1:14 (ESV)
This was already a big change that the men and women were waiting on God together. In Jewish culture this was not the way things were done, men and women would stay separate.
The freedom and unity of the new covenant in Jesus means men and women can come before God together. Notice both Judaism and Islam still keep the sexes separate in worship.
beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” Acts 1:22 (ESV)
One of the qualifications for the apostles in this mission was that they had to have seen the resurrected Lord. Paul will qualify as he sees the resurrected Lord too.
Genuine evidence is important to the New Testament narratives.
Without the Holy Spirit
What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that is not clear to us? Job 15:9 (ESV)
Without the Holy Spirit we are left to the whim of our own ideas and the pride and offence that comes when we don’t see eye to eye. Thank God that we have the Holy Spirit given by Jesus.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Acts 1