Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The "Establishment" and Jesus

(by Professor Dave)
The Word for today:
Acts 6
Stand in the Rain always aims to please its vast readership! You wanted the Big Picture of scripture, with a dose o' poetry and just a hint of insanity -- so we brought you Franklyn!
You wanted contemporary, current, with-it relevance--and so we brought you Pastor Joe!
Some of you appreciate the scholarly, academic approach to the explication of scripture--and so today we bring aboard Professor Dave!
Regular readers have already been introduced to Professor Dave. In the May 2 blog, we highlighted the recent publication of his book, "From the Ascension to the Kingdom."
mark this: Acts 6:7
“… and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
Why do you suppose Luke (the author of Acts) found it important to note that a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith? Who were the priests? Why did God choose this time to mention their obedience to the faith?
The priests were those who were appointed from the lineage of Levi to be minister before God on the behalf of the nation of Israel. They were a part of the religious leadership of Israel, who for most part, up to this point, had rejected Jesus. As we consider the ministry of Jesus on earth, we can see that the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes, generally, opposed Jesus.
These were teachers of the Law, and they challenged Jesus’ authority. Ironically, as “keepers” or ministers of the Law, these teachers of the Law used the Law to exercise authority over the masses. Yet they, themselves, did not understand the Law or the purpose of the Law. Otherwise, they would have recognized that the Law was teaching about Jesus and was meant to bring men to Jesus. Jesus told them, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (NKJV Matthew 5: 39-40)
The priests were also part of this religious leadership and very little or nothing had been revealed, up to this point, as to their reaction to this chain of events. As part of the religious establishment of Israel, were they going to side with the teachers of the Law or were they going to accept the revelation of God in the person of His Son?
As we have looked at the opening of the book Acts, we have seen that a great deal of the activity of God was taking place in and around the temple. This was the place where the priests ministered. Therefore, the priests were privy to God’s workings among the apostles and the early Christians. They must have had a sense that they were ministering under the direction of God. But they were faced with a dilemma, “Were they going to continue to minister under the direction of Israel’s religious leadership (the teachers of the Law) or were they going to minister under the direction of Jesus?” For a great company of them, they chose Jesus.
I think that the dilemma which these priests faced is very similar to a dilemma which many face today, “Should we serve (minister to) others out a sense of obligation (to community, country, or even church), or do we minister under the direction of Jesus?” There is a fitting connection in Acts 6 between the actions of the priests and the activities of the Church. The Church recognized a need for oversight in its ministry to its members, and as a result appointed capable men to take on this ministration. The responsibilities of the priests in Israel fulfilled a similar function for the nation of Israel. Coincidence? I don’t think so. God knows the needs of His people and provides accordingly. The apostle Paul, at a later time, wrote--
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” (I Corinthians 12: 4-7)
In the light of these things which God’s Word has revealed, I think that each of us is left with a few questions to answer or positions to affirm:
1. What is my motivation for serving others?
2. What ministry has God called me to participate in?
3. How am I fulfilling my part in the commission Jesus has given to His Church?
I can’t do it all. Let’s face it, none of us can. That is why Jesus called out His Church. Together we have all that we need to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission.

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