The 11 apostles and close friends and partners wait as commanded. They spend the waiting time in prayer. Based on prayer and scripture they ask God to help select a replacement for Judas: Matthias is selected.
12. a. Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James, the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. I learn from this that they “joined together constantly in prayer.” We often think of prayer as a one-on-one time with God, like an individual conversation. And that is good and appropriate prayer. This example in Acts also helps us see group or corporate prayer. I can, at best, do a good job of listening to one conversation at a time, but God, in His infinite knowledge and power, can hear the prayers of all and those prayers have an even sweeter aroma when they are unified (joined together) and over time (constantly).
b. I think they prayed for their relationship with each other and with God. I think they gave praise and thanksgiving for all of the miraculous things that had been revealed to them and they asked for strength, understanding and wisdom to process it. I think they sought God’s guidance and direction and His timing. They had been told to wait. I think they made the best use of that time that anyone possibly could – they spent it together in prayer.
13. a. The thing I find most interesting in the selection of Matthias is what did not occur. They didn’t have candidates submit a resume. They didn’t watch videos of them giving sermons. They didn’t interview them to review their past experiences and performance. They didn’t discuss who was the most eloquent, who had the nicest family, who would fit in best. Instead they got on their knees. They had some base requirements, someone who had been around to observe Jesus first hand (side note: interesting how later on God shows that isn’t even a requirement for being an apostle), but aside from that they left it up to God to call the right person. So, yes, particularly in matters of ministry, I think this is a far better way to go. We would pick more David’s (see story of David’s selection in 1 Sam 16:5-13 and how even a prophet like Samuel struggled to be patient for God’s selection) and we would have fewer golden calves (see story of how Moses argued with God because he didn’t believe in his own skillset (Ex 4:10-17), so God allows Aaron into leadership. Later Aaron is the one, while Moses is on the mountain, who constructs the golden calf (Ex 32:2-4).
b. Interesting question: should a person with talents but not a calling do work for the Lord? On one hand, God is in control of all things, so we are all working for the Lord. And, I believe that all believers are called into some form of ministry (there are no couch potatoes on God’s team). On the other hand, one of the things I am hearing loudly in this study so far is to wait on the Lord’s timing and pay attention to His guidance and selection. When we pick the person we think is most qualified (especially if that person is ourselves), we are normally wrong. My official answer is yes (because prayer for patience, guidance, etc. is work – keep in mind that Jesus prayed so hard he was sweating blood) and no (because we need to exercise patience for God’s calling and God’s timing).
I had lots of ideas about what I wanted to learn from the study of Acts this year. Getting a loud message about waiting on God’s timing and His calling was not one of them. That is what I love about actually studying the scripture and BSF – we receive such a blessing of the unexpected.