Acts 13:34-41 (ESV)
“And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’
“Therefore he says also in another psalm, ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’
“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: ‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”
Now Paul folds in the resurrection to his theme of the fulfillment of prophesy. He stops short of talking about the deity of Christ; that’s too much for a first lesson. Instead he focuses on how the resurrection fulfills prophesy.
That lesson is tough enough as is. Paul is now venturing outside of mainstream Old Testament interpretation. Everyone is anticipating a messiah that will save Israel but almost no one is expecting him to get killed. So his getting raised from the dead is a complete surprise.
Paul knows this. That’s why he concludes with a wondrous quote from Habakkuk, who said that God would do something so amazing that you would not believe, even if one tells it to you.
But there’s another twist. The original reads:
Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. – Habakkuk 1:5 (ESV)
But Paul changed the beginning to, “Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish.” The audience knows Habakkuk and catches Paul’s drift. They know about Christianity, and they know that some folks oppose it. Here, Paul refers to them as “scoffers” (or, in some translations, “despisers”). It’s a direct challenge.
The scoffers are making a fatal mistake.
We live in a world of people making fatal mistakes. In this section, Paul is just beginning his first missionary journey. He, like all missionaries, is trying to show folks the error of their ways. And, like all missionaries, he’s going to encounter a boatload of problems and challenges.
Missionaries aren’t kidding when they say that they need our prayers more than they need money. Get serious about praying for them.
Ask the Lord to make their audience “fatal mistake aware.”
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