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EARLY CHURCH HISTORY 101 (Lesson 18)

The apostle Peter is keeping his audience enthralled by quoting yet another OT personality, King David, with a compelling prophetic illustration of a thousand years past.

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INTRODUCTION   

Ch 1: LESSON 1   LESSON 2   LESSON 3   LESSON 4   LESSON 5   LESSON 6   LESSON 7

Ch 2: LESSON 8  LESSON 9  LESSON 10  LESSON 11  LESSON 12  LESSON 13  LESSON 14 

Ch 2: LESSON 15  LESSON 16  LESSON 17

LESSON 18

Acts 2:25-32

25 “For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. 26 THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; 27 BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. 28 YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’” [1]

David lived from 1040 to 970 BC. There had never been any actual proof of his existence and many high hats deemed him a mere literary construct. This changed dramatically in 1993 with the discovery in northern Israel of the Tel Dan Inscription. We now have archaeological proof of the Lord’s noted ancestor.

Tel Dan Inscription

Photo: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Israel Antiquities Authority (photograph by Meidad Suchowolski).

Though we know he was not a perfect man and was sometimes guilty of egregious sin, he was also well acquainted with godly sorrow and extreme repentance. As “a man after His own heart,” whom “the Lord has sought out for Himself” (1Samuel 13:14), David was chosen not by man, as was Saul, Israel’s first king, but by God Himself.

In the above passage (the all caps denote OT in the NT), Peter sets the stage by quoting Psalm 16:8-11, written by David. The Psalm itself gives greater clarity than the Acts reading in that the author claims “I have set the LORD continually before me” (Psalm 16:8). David chose to be close to God and for that he was confident of his life and eternal future. He then draws deep and prophesies the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: “Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay” (Psalm 16:10).

THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Closer proximity to the Lord means a greater understanding of His heart. David saw and heard things in the Spirit that few did. His understanding of the Messiah went far beyond the limited perception of David’s times. This lack was arguably worse in the Lord’s time and the decades preceding His arrival. Though the last Hebrew prophet—Malachi—left the scene in the early 400s BC and there was thus no prophetic word by which to gauge the times preceding the Lord, a few had nonetheless received an inkling of what was up, as seeing “through a glass, darkly” (1Corinthians 13:12).

How was this knowledge gained? It certainly wasn’t through mental perception but by an exhaustive study of the Scriptures, and primarily of course, the prophetic content. There was much to choose from.

The Essenes, out by the Dead Sea, proponents of the Zadok priesthood, had initially separated themselves unto the desert in roughly 200 BC after discovering proofs that the existing temple priests were illegitimate. We have their collected works, the illustrious Dead Sea Scrolls, the first few of which were discovered in the late 1940s, that testify of the Messianic track they were on. The members of this Hebrew sect, and undoubtedly other obscure and unknown individuals, understood the times far better than the major denominations—the Pharisees and Sadducees. The “unlearned and ignorant” Galileans were on the cutting edge in this regard.

THE SON OF DAVID

29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.” 

In continuing to drive home his point, Peter, like David, exceeds the common perception of the Messiah. He is attempting here to shed full light to whoever can hear it that the King of kings is far more than a mere military leader or future national figurehead. He quotes Psalm 132:11:

The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.”[2]

Many Bible expositors miss his point entirely as did the Jewish religious leaders of that time. Any mention of David’s son sitting on his thrown is often attributed to Solomon. But this man never fulfilled the many requirements of the position. The prophets referred to an everlasting kingdom led by a King who would rise from the dead.

Why did the learned men of the times not discern this otherwise clear prophetic content? How did they miss it? Why could they not see that the Messiah is God?

—They never witnessed nor believed in the Lord’s resurrection.

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Please note that the use of all caps in the NASB denotes Old Testament passages occurring in the New Testament.

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (4-Part Series)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. [2 Timothy 1:7 KJV]

 

March 12, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 1)

The Lord Jesus came to save His people. But many of His people had already sold out to their religious leaders. They did this in part because they were deathly afraid of them…

 

March 12, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 2)

Regarding the sinning priest problem, some argue that the Catholic Church is not actually as guilty as claimed, in that such episodes are only rare sporadic events. This is simply more window-washing to minimize the charges…

 

March 13, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 3)

It all started in Babylon during the Captivity in roughly 600 BC. It continued to develop over the next four centuries. It came to its full fruition with the emerging Pharisee Party two centuries before the Lord…

 

March 14, 2020: PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 4)

What I have presented with this four-part series goes beyond surface truth. There is a parable at work here revealing destructive forces. For the few who have ventured thus far, you are ahead of the curve…

 

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

 

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (Part 3)

Blog Pic 3.7.20

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It all started in Babylon during the Captivity in roughly 600 BC. It continued to develop over the next four centuries. It came to its full fruition with the emerging Pharisee Party two centuries before the Lord.

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JUDAIC ROOTS OF UNREAL CHRISTIANITY

In the first century AD, the Lord Jesus called that last generation of Israelites the most wicked of all. Much of the wickedness, though, was being performed by, you guessed it, a few, those few not in the pew. Whether it was the vaunted Sadducees who controlled the temple and worked hand in glove politically with the otherwise hated Romans, or the ultra-casuistic Pharisees who created an entirely new “word of God,” the Oral Torah in which they themselves were the god and which was designed to suit themselves and gain and maintain power, the Jewish religious leaders lived to lord it over the people. The millions of Israelites at that time, whether at home in Judea or abroad, were under the absolute authority of such leaders, most especially the Pharisees, the Separated Ones. This was largely the genesis of rabbinical Judaism.

The people had no say so. They were told what to believe. They were held to extremely strict standards. Those who refused the authority of the Pharisees were utterly despised by them as mongrels and traitors to the commonwealth. What does that tell us? This is why the Pharisees had such disdain for Galileans and utter disgust for Samaritans.

They saw themselves as God’s highest and best. They were so “aware” and “in-tune” they legitimized an unwritten minutia-ridden oral law code that overstepped the Law of Moses and no one knew the finer abstract workings of this code than them.

They created it, taking upon themselves the guise of God, though God had nothing to do with it. And they then browbeat their constituents into compulsory acceptance under threat. This put everyone else on the defensive, both due to ignorance of the law and because one could never know for sure if they had violated it until confronted with the violation. It should be clear then, that Israelites lived on the edge and were often in a state of worry.

Yet the Lord indicated that the scribes and Pharisees inherited the seat of Moses, and He said one must do as they teach. The inference is that one must obey them as it regards the Mosaic Law. He also said, however, that one must not follow their example because they only talk the talk and do not walk the walk.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” [Matthew 23:13][1]

Who else other than the Lord Jesus had the boldness to instruct disciples in this way? Who else dared to use his position of authority to tell Israelites that the Pharisees set a rotten example? We know that answer is next to no one because if one did he would have an ugly fight on his hands in seconds.

It is why the nation was so afraid of the religious leaders. Their entire lives were subjected to whether or not a person was in good standing in the synagogue and only the few at the top had absolute control of their fate. The people thus must make sure they crossed every yod and dotted every tittle or the man would come down on their head. The most successful obeyers developed the worst attitude and became sideways browbeaters in league with the top-down browbeaters. If you kept trying to succeed at this idiocy but couldn’t pull it off (because you were normal), you got it from everywhere. Those who hated the entire insufferable enterprise, however, knew they best keep their opinions and facial expressions to themselves or word would get out. You couldn’t trust anybody. They would out you. You could get ratted out by any number of Judases in a heartbeat.

Here we have another of those amazing traits regarding humanity. Why not rise up? Why not make the attempt to throw off the yoke? There were only a few who fit this category, for one thing. But those who actually did it and meant to make something of it eventually began banding together. Their effort was not necessarily against the religious leaders but for national Israel. They couldn’t see how playing church would oust the Romans. But they were not about to do it God’s way. These were the Zealots. They were otherwise known in the New Testament as robbers. A faction of these, known for hidden daggers in their cloaks to be used on a moment’s notice, was the Sicarii.

The Zealots grew more ruthless over time. They developed a few key leaders who held sway over thousands of Israelites. In the end they would bring forth the Great Revolt that brought down the nation.

Another major sect was the Essenes. These were for the most part monastics that had long before rejected the authority of the corrupt temple priests and created their own highly-controlled aesthetic order. This too, of course, was run by an elevated religious caste.

What was a first century Jew to do? There was little escape from the suffocating lack of personal liberty and freedom in the Lord. Much of everything God did in the very beginning in the times of Abraham and Moses to create a people for His Name eventually got twisted and subverted. It developed into heavy-handed domination by a ruling cabal of autocratic religious despots and political subversives given over to money and power.

Sound familiar?

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 1)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 2)

PHARISEE CONTROL TACTICS: THE SPIRIT OF FEAR (PART 4)