Reading passages like “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem” forces me to acknowledge my limited understanding of Almighty God. This passage along with a couple we recently read in Jeremiah, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people” and "As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you”, were not taught in any Sunday School class I ever attended.
In Acts 20:26, Paul makes a thought provoking statement, "Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." He said this to the elders of the church in Ephesus. Paul was going to Jerusalem expecting imprisonment. He knew these men would never see him again. So in this last visit, Paul wants them to understand the purpose of his ministry. He reminds them how at every opportunity he thoroughly taught God’s Word to both Jew and Greek. He never shrank back from telling them what they needed to hear.
Holy Spirit, please convict us to speak the whole counsel of God our Father faithfully. May we never minimize our LORD in any way. He is perfect in every facet of His nature. He is perfect love, perfect peace, perfect justice, and perfect wrath. He is the only One who is Good.
A week after Paul's first sermon at the synagogue in Antioch, almost the whole city, which was primarily Gentiles, gathered to hear the Gospel. But when the local Jews saw the crowd they became jealous. In Romans 11:11-14, Paul says one reason for his ministry was to make fellow Jews jealous, so as to save some of them. But it seems their envy on this occasion was toward Paul rather than a jealousy that would lead to belief in Christ Jesus. Their contradiction of Paul appears to be a rejection of Jesus since he later says, "You thrust it (the Gospel) aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life." Therefore, Paul tells the Jews he and Barnabas will take the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Based on Isaiah 49:5, Paul says that is what God has commanded them to do. Isaiah 49 is a Messianic passage in which the Messiah will bring Jacob back to God and be a light to the other nations of the world (Gentiles) by bringing salvation to the whole earth. When the Gentiles heard the Gospel, they rejoiced and glorified God's Word, and those appointed to eternal life believed.
What a comparison "judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life" and "rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed." Rejection or acceptance of Jesus is the only option. There is no middle ground. "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
Thank You, Father God, for making Jesus the light for the Gentiles. Thank You, Jesus, for being the light of the world. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for creating within me a heart to rejoice and glorify the Word of God.