This classic Lockheed Sabre jet fighter appears to be poised for action, but in reality it is fastened firmly to a post on the ground. Are you ready for action or are you bound down?

Acts Part 3: God’s will or yours?

This classic Lockheed Sabre jet fighter appears to be poised for action, but in reality it is fastened firmly to a post on the ground. Are you ready for action or are you bound down?12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
15 At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said, 16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 19 And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms,
      ‘Let his homestead be made desolate,
      And let no one dwell in it’;
and,
      ‘Let another man take his office.’
21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” 23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen 25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles
(Acts 1:12-26 NASB)

After Jesus returned to happen the eleven remaining disciples, along with certain women, Jesus’ brothers, and a bunch of other people, all returned to the room they had been renting. The Bible doesn’t record the atmosphere at the time. Were they silent? Were they discussing all that had just happened quietly amongst themselves? Whatever was happening, and no doubt they had mixed feelings about the betrayal of Judas, Peter stands up and speaks.

Peter reminds them that everything has happened as was prophesied many years earlier in the scriptures, and what was spoken from Jesus’ own mouth. Judas did exactly what was prophesied that he would do, and he paid the ultimate price for that betrayal.

This begs the question, was Judas forced by the prophecy to do this? I think not. Everyone has free choice, and it was his free choice to follow or betray Jesus. If he had chosen not to do this then it is quite likely that someone else might have made that decision in his place.

Now here’s the tricky bit: the prophecy of David also states that someone will take his place among the twelve. But who? If we read the book of Nehemiah we see that Nehemiah always asked God for everything, but when we read verses 21 to 26 we do not see them asking God for guidance in this decision.

Their initial process of elimination seems logical at first, they feel that they need someone who was faithfully following Jesus from the time of His own baptism until that very moment that they are discussing this matter, and that this person must have witnessed that He was resurrected, and ascended into Heaven. This criteria eliminates many people, leaving two popular choices. But, again they are not seeking God here. They make their choice by drawing lots, which in practice is no different to tossing a coin. Heads or tails? Who will the twelfth disciple be???

They completely missed the point of the rest of the written scriptures here. You can’t take things out of context, everything must be weighed up against everything else in the Bible. They should have sought God over this decision. They did not. They also failed to remember a key aspect of their own experience with Jesus, something which should have clearly told them to seek God’s will in this matter. Jesus Himself specifically chose the twelve. What right do they have to take it upon themselves to do something which Jesus insisted on doing Himself… Jesus never told them to choose someone to replace Judas. They are taking a scripture out of context and doing what they want with it.

As we continue to read through the book of Acts we find no more reference to Matthias, he is never again mentioned in the Bible. Why? He wasn’t the man Jesus Himself was choosing to be the twelfth. That honour came to a man called Saul, and Jesus came face to face with him and called him personal, just as He had done with the rest of the disciples.

The main lesson here is not to do thing’s our way, and to not take the Bible out of context so that we can do things our way thinking that we are doing things God’s way. Like the example of Nehemiah, and many other great names throughout the Bible, we need to seek God’s will directly in all things, and at all times.