I sent the first 32 weeks of the year going through and letting the book of Acts speak to me. The first 28 weeks I spent a week on each chapter of Acts. I would read a chapter over and over for a week. I would read and listen to it in different versions. Many weeks I would listen to the whole book in one setting to put together context. Then I went back and read a chapter a day for the next 4 weeks.
I just want to share a few things that God’s Word spoke to me and things I saw over the next weeks. I don’t claim to have a special revelation or interpretation of God’s Word. I just listened to His voice as I read.
Jesus made a point of again promising the disciples of the gift of the Holy Spirit. I thought it was interesting in Acts 1 that the disciples were still looking for an earthly kingdom. After walking with Jesus on the earth and knowing that He was resurrected they still thought the kingdom was about liberating a physical nation. They were looking for political power when Jesus promised spiritual power. They looked up at Jesus as He was taken up in wonder. I can scoff at this but how often can I stare out into the vastness of this world looking for something other than His power?
I love envisioning the unity the disciples held after Jesus was taken up. They were “constantly united in prayer” (verse 14). They were seeking, entreating and wanting God’s promise. Peter decided to call for the replacement of Judas in this time. They had two possible candidates who had spent time with Jesus. Their qualifications were that that they had been a part of following Jesus and witnesses of the resurrection.
The two candidates were
- Joseph called Barsabbas (aka Justus)
Joseph means “let him add”, Barsabbas means “son of desire” and Justus means “justified”. Thats an interested mix of names. Matthias means “gift of God”. I think sometimes I make it about what I can do instead making it about God’s gift of grace. I have to guard my heart on that. I wrote in my journal “Be careful it isn’t about your gift”.
They prayed a prayer that included this “you know every heart”. God knows our hearts. There’s nothing we can hide from His eyes. They cast lots to choose Matthias. Its interesting that you don’t really hear about either of these guys after this. I’ve heard people conjecture that instead God choose Paul as the 12th disciple/apostle but theres really not text that supports that although his resume speaks for itself.
I personally believe they needed to cast lots because the Holy Spirit wasn’t yet given to guide them. . I dug in a little about the casting of lots. It was primarily an Old Testament practice. Historically it was done in just the luck of the draw akin to picking a name out of a hat. I wondered if it might have been a voting type system but the facts don’t seem to support that. Either ways seems to be possibly inefficient. I’m grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives today. I would hate to leave decisions up to a coin toss.
I’m glad that Jesus makes this promise of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1 and that we see the fulfillment of that throughout the book of Acts. My life would be radically different without His presence today.