Wednesday Dec 28, 2022

Acts 13:17

Wednesday, 28 December 2022


“The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Acts 13:17


Paul had just given his opening greetings to those gathered in the synagogue. With that complete, he now begins his discourse on what was read in the law and the prophets, beginning with, “The God of this people Israel.”


Paul immediately identifies his thoughts with the God of Israel. Everything he says will be in accord with that. This is important because when he proclaims Jesus later in verse 23, his words will be in line with what was presented already in Scripture by their God. It would make no sense for Paul to come in and start talking about Krishna. Nor would it make any sense to begin with the God of Israel, but then proclaim Him in a manner that is not in accord with Scripture.


Therefore, Paul begins by acknowledging the God of Israel, and then he will continue speaking about things that are in accord with the Scriptures that testify to their God. This is seen in his next words. The God of Israel “chose our fathers.”


Paul gives a brief summary of the history of the establishment of Israel as a people. This is similar to the approach that Stephen took in Acts 7. As both men were being guided by the Spirit in their utterances, it shows that this is an important way of communicating the gospel to the Jewish people. To take them back in their own history and to then weave together events that ultimately point to Christ is a sound method of proving the truth of Jesus as being their Messiah.


In this case, the choosing of the fathers is certainly referring to the call of Abraham, the selection of Isaac over Ishmael as the son of promise, and the continued defining of the line as being through Jacob and not Esau. From there, history continued with Israel sojourning in Egypt.


Any Jew would be intimately familiar with these things and their minds would fill in all of the unstated blanks as Paul continued. It is next from the time in Egypt that Paul continues, saying,
“and exalted the people.”


Immediately, the mind of his audience would skip to the time of affliction while in Egypt. Joseph died and another ruler came up who treated them harshly and with cruelty. It is during this time that God promised he would attend to their plight and give them the relief He had promised would come. That promise was made centuries earlier at the time of Abraham. This was “when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt.”


The thought of the promise made by the Lord to Abraham would come right into the minds of those hearing Paul speak –


“Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.’” Genesis 15:13, 14


This is the time that Paul is referring to in his words to the people. And at that set time, known already to the Lord, he then exalted the people, “and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it.”


Using anthropomorphism, Paul’s words speak of the power of the Lord. It is as if the arm of the Lord was used to brush aside every obstacle that stood in their way as they were safely brought forth behind them. This was promised before the Exodus by the Lord –


“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.’” Exodus 6:6


Paul is taking Israel’s own history, a history carefully recorded in their sacred writings, and he is using them to tie their history into what was to come in Christ Jesus.


Life application: Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to follow the same God as that presented in Scripture, using those Scriptures and claiming His name to proclaim their religion. But, as stated above, it makes no sense to claim to follow the God of Israel (Jehovah), but then proclaim Him in a manner that is not in accord with Scripture.


The God of Israel is the One who led the people out of Egypt with an outstretched arm. He did it personally, accomplishing everything necessary to save the people. No other god was with Him in His exalted work –


So the Lord alone led him,
And there was no foreign god with him.” Deuteronomy 32:12


Acknowledging that their redemption was the work of the Lord alone is seen again and again in Scripture. The same is true with the coming salvation of the people through Christ. The Lord promises that He alone will bring it about –


“I, even I, am the Lord,
And besides Me there is no savior.” Isaiah 44:1


Again, this thought is expressed again and again in Scripture. The Lord alone will accomplish the work. And then, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, He creates a being who does all the work for Him. It is both illogical and it is perverse. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the only possible fulfillment of these types, pictures, patterns, and prophecies.


The Lord God of Israel came in human flesh and accomplished the work for His people. But the only way one can be certain of this and not be led astray by falsity is to check these things out. And the only place where one can do that is in the word.


As this is so, there are two possibilities to getting this right: 1) learn after something is heard, or 2) know what is right before a claim is made. Either way, the place to learn whether a claim is true or not is Scripture.


As this is so, it is best to at least be familiar with the Bible in advance. Then when something complicated comes up, it will be easier to begin a more in-depth study. Hence, you are implored to read your Bible daily, check out claims that are made concerning it, and hold fast to that which is clearly presented by the Lord.


Lord God, thank You that we have access to the word that tells us of You and of Your great workings in human history on our behalf. We can know what is right and what is wrong by simply checking things out. So, Lord, give us wisdom to do just that. Help us to be responsible in our lives in this manner. To Your glory, we pray, Amen.

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