Hey! You did it. You're half way to reading the entire Bible! Celebrate with some ice cream or a root beer float!
17:9 The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. I wonder how they "secretly" were able to do this. Sounds kinda funny to have them in every town yet kept a secret. In their cookie jars? Sock drawers?
17:13 Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: "Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets." He still does this to us today through His Holy Spirit, and we also have the warnings of the prophets and the Torah, yet we are just as disobedient and secretly idolatrous as they-both corporately and individually! Remember, to keep the entire law, what must we do today? Love God, love people.
17:14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. Unbelief is the world's sin! (John 16:9)
17:33-34 And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came. And this is still going on today. They continue to follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the Lord and obeying the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands he gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel.
I used to think, "Thank goodness we're not like them today!" But as I study church history, we are no different and never have been. Our own forms of idolatry and tradition that have been passed down to us for so long, we even think they're righteous. I'm sure the Israelites thought their traditions of men were all for the right reasons, too. We do this to ourselves. We justify our habits and traditions by tracing them to a crumb of truth in what we're doing, while feasting on a cake of deception. Deception is a powerful, stealthy reality for all of mankind since the days of Adam. "And [the beast] deceives those who dwell on the earth..." Revelation 13:14.
How do I know all this? Besides the fact that the Bible tells us this over and over, all you have to do is confront a lie that is being believed by a person or a group (or even a generation) and you get tarred and feathered. Sometimes even crucified. I say all of this in humility, knowing that I have chosen many lies and have also been totally deceived in certain areas for most of my life. Thank God He is removing the scales! In fact, until this past year, I used to think I was above deception, and then God began showing me how many traditions of men I had patterned my life and belief system after-it was so humbling! I'm sure I've got a long way to go. Also, another way I know this is that we have gotten so far away from reading and applying the Bible from a Jewish perspective. The Bible has lost so much meaning because we don't go to the intended audience as a source that can help us understand it.
Why am I on such a soap box against idol worship and traditions of men today? Well, I think the end of this age is near, and I think many Christians are way deceived. And I think that I have a responsibility to declare what I've learned that might make a difference for those who would hear and believe, according to the Scriptures. I see that the Bible is full of warnings of the same, so what I'm saying is nothing new in the course of history. There is no time to waste for those who have an ear to hear.
`He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.' Revelation 2:17
20:1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples... Another thing I notice throughout Acts: none of the mainstream Jews of Paul's day wanted the truth! There is nothing new under the sun. Truth creates conflict.
20:7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. Remember that a day begins at sunset. Since Paul was speaking until midnight, I believe they gathered either on the Sabbath or at sundown (Saturday night) just after the Sabbath. Notice he keeps speaking and fellowshipping until dawn. I think it would be awesome to have these kinds of services once in awhile. I hear a lot about all night prayer vigils in other countries such as in Colombia and Nigeria.
20:8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. What a cool picture of the lights of the world gathered in one room.
20:24, 26-27 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. ...Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. What a precious statement. May this heart be true of me. And what did Paul say was the whole purpose of God?
"For this we both labour and are reproached, because we hope on the living God, who is Saviour of all men -- especially of those believing." 1 Timothy 4:10 (Young's Literal)
148:5-6, 11-13 Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being. He set them in place forever and ever. His decree will never be revoked. ... Praise the Lord from the earth...kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children. Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!
Special Treat: In his recent newsletter, Mark Biltz sent out this little bit of exciting Bible code! If you take the first letter of every name in the "begats" from Adam to Terah, (Abraham's father), it forms an acrostic that becomes an exciting revelation of God's redemptive plan!