Thursday, September 13, 2018
“But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles” (Acts 14:4 KJV).
Have you ever heard the expression, “Doctrine divides?” Indeed, it does!
Today’s Scripture says the city of Iconium was divided between the “unbelieving Jews” (cf. verse 2) and the apostles “Barnabas and Paul” (cf. verse 14). These two factions are a physical representation of an invisible, spiritual reality.
JEHOVAH God had given His Word—our “Old Testament” Scriptures—to the nation Israel rather than the nations (Gentiles). Romans 2:17-20 looks back in time: “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” Also, Romans 3:1,2: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
While Israel possessed God’s Word, very few Jews had placed their faith in it. Furthermore, as we learn from Matthew through John and the Acts period, Israel corporately and persistently refused to be the vessel that God would utilize to bring that Word to Gentiles. When God turned to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul’s new message and ministry (Acts chapter 9 onward), unbelieving Israel stalked Paul for the rest of Acts. Throughout the Roman Empire, for some 35 years, they frequently schemed to assault, discredit, and even kill him!
Ironically, the people to whom God originally gave His Word refused to believe it, declined to share it, discouraged anyone from believing it, and vehemently opposed those who preached it. Acts 13:45 again: “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” There is a contest between two wills, and it goes far beyond trivial religious disagreements. God and Satan are engaged in a most serious battle….