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Some Deeds Through the Apostles

              The Coming of the Holy Spirit On Pentecost  approx early June, A.D. 30

(assuming crucifixion in late April of A.D. 30)

The apostles of Jesus waited together after Jesus's final departure, and on the day of Pentecost they were all together in one place.  Then a noise came from heaven that sounded like a great rushing wind, which filled the house where they were staying.  Then what seemed to be flames of fire fell upon them all, distributing among them.

              They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  They began to speak in foreign languages, as the Spirit allowed them to.  There were Jews and Jewish converts in the city from many places at that time, and they were very surprised to hear these people speaking in many languages, including their own.  It appeared that these speakers of new languages were Gallileans, so it was very curious to the foreigners.

              Men from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Egypt, Lybia, Cyrene, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs were in Jerusalem for the feast.  To all of these the apostles related the Mighty Deeds of God in their own native language, as the Holy Spirit empowered them to do. 

              A few mockers had to suggest that the men must be drunk, but clearly that was a ridiculous utterance since people of many nations were understanding these men's words clearly.

              Peter stood up from among them and began to speak to the curious crowd, and used the scriptures to explain this happening and to explain Jesus's ministry.  Peter told them, convincing many, that they had just killed the Messiah when they killed Jesus.

              Pierced to their hearts to think they had done this, and convinced by this great display of power by the Holy Spirit, about 3000 who listened that day were baptized and saved.  Many of the believers sold their posessions and gave the money to the apostles for distribution to those who needed it.  These new believers met often, living communally for the most part, sharing all things between themselves.  Every day more people joined them, pledging their lives to Christ.

              Once, long ago, there was one day when men, trying to build a tower so tall they could reach Heaven their own way, were confounded in that purpose by the division of languages which God purposely sent.  Then, one day, so that men would find a path to heaven that God Himself had provided, the languages were reunited, again by God's will, through the Holy Spirit's gift of tongues, so that all men could hear of this gift from God.  It kind of closes the circle.

              Consider the growth rate there in that first 50 days of Christianity:  3000 in a single day were added.  It's amazing that the world wasn't Christianized in a year, you know?  But this was mostly among Jews since the town was Jerusalem and it was a Jewish Holiday.  They already had the cultural understanding that there was a Messiah coming, and knew the scriptural hints of where He would come from, who He would be and what He would be like.  Still, it is an astounding growth rate. 

              But that explosive increase among believers will be exceeded greatly on the day people look up and actualy see Jesus coming in the Clouds, returning for His church and then to fight for His people, and accept rule of His kingdom here on Earth.  Oh yeah - you know it will be exceeded that day.  There will be a lot of believers that day.  And from what I understand, many believers will be added between the time that Jesus removes the Church from Earth and the time He returns to fight and then rule. 

              While it's time to choose you must choose Jesus or reject Him.  That time is now.  And remember, you don't know what day Jesus will come, and you don't know what day you will naturally pass away to death on this Earth.  Don't plan on looking into it someday.  You might not live until someday.  If you see him coming in power, to fight and take posession, that will mean the time to choose has passed, so far as I understand the scriptures.

              People say "Be looking.  He's coming."  Well, look what happened in Jesus's day.  People were saying "Be looking.  He's coming."  And He came, and very few had heeded the warning, so few were ready when He came.  And those who slumbered paid dearly.  Be smart, friend.  Trust and wait with both eyes open, while you go about a life which would please Him.  We can all try our best to be doing that much for Him at least, because He is worthy.

              Maybe Scripture's Toughest Message - Ananias and Saphira  approx A.D. 30

              The believers of that day, shortly after Jesus's death, shortly after Pentecost, were forsaking all for Christ.  They were selling their belongings and homes, etc., and giving the money to the disciples for common use of them all. 

              A man named Ananias sold a piece of property, and he kept part of the money but gave the rest to the apostle Peter, representing it as the whole amount He had gotten when he sold the property.  His wife Saphira knew about his decision, and about the part of the money he secretly kept back.

              Peter said "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?  Why is it you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men, but to God!" 

              Hearing these words, Ananias fell down and quit breathing.  Fear was felt by everyone who heard about it.

              Young men covered the body, then took it out to bury it.  After about three hours Ananias's wife returned from somewhere, not knowing what had happened yet. 

              Peter asked her "Tell me if you sold the land for such and such a price?"  She said "Yes, that was the price."  She was lying.

              Then Peter asked her why she and her husband had decided to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?  He said "Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well."  Immediately she fell at Peter's feet and died, so they carried her out for burial as well, beside her husband.

              A great fear fell throughout the Church because of this, and over others who heard of it.  see Acts Chap 5: v. 1 - 11.

              Ananias and Saphira are not so bad are they?  Didn't they give part of their money to Peter?  After all, it was their money.

              I guess their mistake was in saying they had given it all, when they knew they had held back so that their situation might be better than that of the other Christians they were living with.


              They wanted to live in two worlds:  This interesting new Christian world where believers of God and Jesus were provided for by whatever God sent, and also empowered from above by the Gifts that God sent through the Holy Spirit.  And secondly, they kept some money, and they could step back into 'the world' whenever they needed to and use that cash as a form of power also, for obtaining whatever provisions and niceties the world had to offer.  They kept their options open.

              So they were just kind of 'touring' the Christian life.  Unlike the others, they weren't reliant on whatever God sent each day.  But then, they made the mistake of lying about it, so that they would have the appearance of relying on God and living with all things in common like everyone else.  Two faced?  Hypocritical?  Luke warm commitment?  All I know is the Holy Spirit hated what they did so much that It killed them on the spot to send a message about the purity of purpose expected by the Lord.

              I see myself all over the place when I consider Ananias and Saphira.  I find it a very sobering act of God through the Holy Spirit. 

             

Jailing the Apostles? - God Can Always Make Bail  approx A.D. 30

              A great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard these things.  The believers and the apostles did many signs, staying in an area called Solomon's portico.  Though most Jews did not join the believers in Jesus out of fear of the Sanhedron (the 70 Jews who governed) they still admired them and their deeds.  And many more did join the church every day.

              People brought their sick and afflicted hoping for healings, and they actually were being healed.  People laid the sick out on stretchers so that Peter's shadow would fall upon them as he walked by, believing even His shadow held power.

              The apostles were getting so much of the people's attention that the priests became jealous and soured towards them.  There were about 5000 Christians now, counting men alone. The faction was growing alarmingly from their viewpoint, one would guess.  The priests had already told the apostles to quit teaching in the temple, but they continued.  They had the temple gaurds grab hold of Peter and some of the others and place them overnight in the public jail, locked up and under gaurd.  But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of this prison and led them out.  He told them to go into the temple and preach the whole message of this life.

              In the morning the council - the whole Senate of the Israelites - convened and sent for the jailed apostles to be brought to them.  The officers sent to get them returned perplexed, and reported "We found the prison house locked quite securely, and the gaurds standing at the door, but when we had it opened up, no one was inside."

              Then someone reported that the missing men were teaching in the temple.  The council sent the captain and his officers to bring them, which he did politely due to the crowds that hung on the apostles words. 

              When they were in front of the council, the council asked them why they taught after being told not to?  

              Peter and the apostles replied " We must obey God rather than men.  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.  He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. 

              Hearing this, the Council was cut to the quick , and intended to kill them.  But a respected teacher and law expert named Gamaliel stood and had the apostles removed outside for a few minutes so he could talk.

              He brought it up that there had been those who falsely claimed to be from God previously, and all of those had met a bad end, killed.  Yet, if these people were from God, it would be like they chose to fight against God if they killed them.

              The council believed him to be wise in what he said, and so they brought the apostles back in and had them flogged, and then told them not to preach in the name of this Jesus anymore.  Then they released them.

              But the apostles were actually proud and happy they got to suffer shame for the sake of Jesus's name, and they kept right on preaching - in the temple - that Jesus was the awaited Christ.   Acts Chap 5: v. 17 - 42. 

             

              Whenever Anything Big Happens God Always Tells A Hamite

              When God made His covenant with Noah, his sons Ham, Shem, and Japheth certainly knew about it.  But afterwards Ham became somewhat estranged from the family.  Yet God always kept Ham apprised of any big change.  For example:

              1) When Moses crossed the Red Sea one of the things that happened in the wilderness is Meriam was given leprosy (and Aaron was lucky to escape it) because they started giving Moses a hard time as if he was a glory hog.  Family jealousy!  But one of the pretexts for starting the fight with Moses was because 'of the Cushite woman he had married.'  (See Numbers Chap 12)  Granted, Cush (more or less centered in what is Sudan today) isn't exactly located in today's Ethiopian boundaries, but sources say that a person named Ityopis was  son of Cush who was a son of Ham, and that Ityopis was the source word for Ethiopia.  Some sources say that Biblical Ethiopia refers to Cush in Moses's day.

              Whatever happened to Moses during his life, I'm sure his wife from Cush was aware, and through her, her family would have been kept aware also, I believe.  So news of all God did through Moses could have gone via Moses's wife to 'Ethiopia'.  And they could have learned about the Law and the comandments - which was the new covenant.  God probably kept Ham updated!

              2) When God allowed His people to begin having earthly Kings the Queen of Sheba came and learned all about what was new with God's people when she visited Solomon.  The location of Sheba then was probably Ethiopia, maybe Yemen, maybe both.  It's disputed.  So a Hamite, this Queen, could have found out about the psalms of David, the proverbs of Solomon and David, and many things pointing to Christ, while at the same time becoming acquainted with God's Holy Temple just built by Solomon.  Ham was updated!

              3)  When Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah preached the whole time that it was a punishment from God for Israel's apostasy and they would just have to endure it, but it wouldn't last forever.  He preached that resistance was basically futile, and giving up would be better.  He was thrown in a well for this - an almost dry muddy well - by the King of Israel.  His preaching was wrecking the morale of the beseiged people of Jerusalem and the soldiers. 

              He'd have died there in that muddy well except that an Ethiopian eunuch who worked for the King - Ebed Melech - talked the King into letting him fish Jeremiah out.  So Ebed knew why Jerusalem was destroyed and why the temple was destroyed, and that it would not be permanent.  Whether people took the arc of the covenant to the city of Axum in Ethiopia before the Babylonians laid seige to Jerusalem I do not know.  It's a belief that Ethiopia has, certainly.  Perhaps one of the arcs is there, as I believe two were ultimately made.  But - whatever the case - when Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon, God kept Ham apprised.

              4.)  Now, nothing was ever much bigger news than the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the lamb of God.  So how could we be surprised if it was an apparent Hamite - Simon of Cyrene - who is the only one to help Jesus actually drag His cruel cross up the hill and be crucified on it.  He became a Christian because of this experience, went on to be a pillar of the Church of Antioch (where Christians were first recordedly called Christians), and he is referred to in some writings (lovingly) by a nick-name that means 'blacky'  or 'darky'.  Anyone might have lived in Cyrenaica, and there were even Jews there, but it seems from the available evidence that Simon of Cyrene was a Hamite.  I think this likely shows that God kept Ham updated of Jesus.

              5)  But what about the Holy Spirit, and the newly born Church?  Did God tell estranged son Ham about those?  Consider what happened to Philip in the book of acts:  Philip went to Samaria, and made great inroads with the Samaritans.  Many believed from seeing the works the Holy Spirit did among them, and it was so exciting that Peter and John came to observe and help.  The Samaritans had received baptism, but hadn't yet received gifts of the Holy Spirit  (remember, the apostles did not at first either.)  Through Peter and John's prayers they did then begin to receive the Holy Spirit. 

              But as for Philip, an angel of the Lord spoke to him saying "Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza."  So Philip went there and saw a man in a chariot who was an Ethiopian eunuch from the court of Queen Candace of Ethiopia.  He was a treasury official.  The chariot was stopped, and the man was reading aloud from the prophet Isaiah.  The Holy Spirit told Phillip to go up to the man.  Philip approached and asked him what he was reading. 

              It was "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before it's shearer is silent, so He does not open His mouth.  In humilition His judgement was taken away, who will relate His generation?  For His life is removed from the earth."

              The eunuch answered Philip and said "Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this?  Of himself, or of someone else?"

              Philip answered, beginning at that scripture and teaching the Ethiopian eunuch about Jesus. 

              They approached some water as they travelled, and the Eunuch said "Look! Water. What prevents me from being baptized?"

              Philip said "If you believe with all of your heart, you may."  And he answered saying "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."

              And he ordered the chariot to stop, then they both went into the water and Philip baptized him.

              When they came up out of the water, the spirit snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

 

              But Philip found himself in Azotus (once called Ashdod, it was one of the 5 cities of the Philistines from over a thousand years before Jesus's time), and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea."  See Acts Chap 8: v. 26 thru 40.

              In this Deed of the Holy Spirit we may be seeing seed and precedent for the 'rapture' that many, self included, expect will happen one day.  And again, Ethiopia - (does it represent estranged Ham, or is it for some other reason?) is kept up to date on what Father is doing. 

              And beyond that, I notice that Philip felt he could baptise alone in an instance like this.  Of course he was an apostle, but I've wondered what is God's minimum criteria before you should be approved as able to baptize others?  The question is still open, but I think if it came down to it, all believers could baptize another new believer in time of need, such as if no pastor, priest, etc., was going to be able to.  They are attesting to belief in Christ, you are hearing it, and heaven is witnessing it.  Who knows?
©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website