BSF Acts Study 2011-2012, BSF Acts Week 4

Acts: Week 4, Day 3

Acts 8:9–40 with Isaiah 53.

Two people whom the Holy Spirit purposefully reaches out to and touches their heart.  The first is Simon, a sorcerer in Samaria, who believed his own promotional materials about himself.  He saw the power of the Holy Spirit and desired it, but wanted the spotlight to still be on himself, not on God.  He is called to repent and he asks for prayer from Godly men. But he doesn’t ask that he be saved, just that he can go back to how it was before.  The second is an Ethopian Eunuch on a 1500 mile trek to worship at the temple.  The Holy Spirit reaches out to him while he is studying the prophecy in Isaiah and the fulfillment of all prophecy is revealed to him.  He immediately accepts Jesus and leaves rejoicing.

6. a. Simon practiced sorcery in the city in Samaria; he boasted that he was great; others gave him attention and endorsement; others followed him for a long time; Simon was baptized; he asked to buy power; he was rebuked; full of bitterness; captive to sin; Asked for prayer.

b. It is a gift, not a commodity to be bartered and sold.  Despite words and actions, it is withheld from those who withhold giving their heart to God.

7. These are not stories of numbers being converted, they tell of the spirit directing the work of the church to meet with an individual.

8. a.  Isaiah 53:3–6, Absolutely.  This revelation was fulfilled completely in the person of Jesus and in him alone.

b.  1 Peter 2:24–25, I am humbled and grateful for the extreme sacrifice my God did for me because of my sin and actions.

 

Why are these 2 stories in 1 chapter of the bible?  I think there is something in the comparison/contrast.  First, we have someone with no power or authority.  His entire profession is smoke and mirrors. But he craves power for himself so badly that when a divine gift is offered to him, he cannot bow down and accept it – he has to keep himself above it.  The second is a man of actual power and authority who, in his work, is surrounded by others with actual power and authority.  Yet he has no issue in humbling himself and he has a real hunger to learn.  Don’t miss the little details:

  1. He had traveled 1500 miles to worship in Jerusalem
  2. He had, with him in his chariot, a copy of the book of Isaiah (remember, this is well before the printing press – there were no paperback copies of the book of Isaiah at the half price store)
  3. When asked if he understood, he answered “how can I unless someone explains it to me?” and invites Philip to join him
  4. He stopped the chariot, climbed out into some water along the side of the dusty road, and was baptized (from 8:39 it sounds like full immersion)

Now, picture that in today’s terms.  Here is the secretary of the treasury for an entire nation on a 1500 mile trek soley for the purpose of worshipping in his religion.  Someone he doesn’t know runs up along side his limo, while he is reading his book of scripture, and asks if he understands what he is reading. 

I am always amazed at how upside down things are between the way we see things on earth and the way God reveals things through scripture.  I believe the reason that one of the reasons these two examples are side-by-side is so that we learn what God wants from us: a humble heart.  The first man should have been humble.  In earthly terms he didn’t have anything except puffery, no real authority.  The second should not have been humble.  He had it all, power, authority, contacts, education and devotion to his beliefs.  But which man left asking for prayer that “nothing you have said may happen to me” and which man “went on his way rejoicing.” 

This is an important lesson for us to keep in mind the next time we start believing we “are something” regardless of our actual earthly position.

 

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