“And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’” (Acts 3:24-25)
Peter, as he continues in his sermon in the temple courts after the healing of the man born lame, points out to the Israelite men who are listening to him that they stand in a position of special privilege in this matter. Not only did Moses speak of the coming of Jesus Christ, but all the prophets, from Samuel onward, spoke about this time of special activity on God’s part that centers on his Messiah. The promises of Joel for the pouring out of God’s Spirit, David’s words of a Righteous One who would not be abandoned to the Grave, these and many, many more pointed to these amazing days.
And these Israelites who are now listening to Peter are the descendants of those prophets, the people entrusted with God’s sacred revealed Scripture. No other people on earth holds this record. “You are the sons of the prophets,” Peter tells them. “You belong to the covenant God made with your ancestors, the covenant first spoken to Abraham.” What did Yahweh promise to Abraham? “In your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”
Peter here quotes the LXX, with some modification. He has “families” or “clans” (patriai
) where the LXX has “nations” (ethnē
). He also rearranges the word order. The overall meaning is not affected greatly, though the choice of words emphasizes the family bond that all humankind shares.
God told Abraham that his multitudinous offspring, which would be as innumerable as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore would become the key to his blessing to all humankind. When God spoke these words to Abraham, he only had the two children: Ishmael and Isaac. The whole thing required faith on Abraham’s part, but he believed God. Peter is telling the Israelite Men in Solomon’s Portico that the time for that promise to be fulfilled has arrived. Their moment to bless the world has come. They stand at the culmination of their election and calling. Everything God has been doing with them over the past two millennia was leading to this moment. What an exciting prospect! How many godly men and women had died longing to see these days?
The people who listened to Peter may not have fully grasped the tremendous importance of this moment. Those who still refused to believe in Jesus went on with their drab lives, politics as usual, pushing and pulling and jockeying for position and privilege within the confines of the Roman Empire and the ambitions of local kings. They went right on as before, and refused to take up any call to be a source of blessing to the world. They centered in more and more on themselves and finally went to all out war against Rome and lost. They were utterly crushed. Those who rejected Jesus and chose this path did not bless the world. But many did believe. Many took up the invitation to repent, to turn back, to find in Jesus forgiveness and refreshment, to claim him as King and Messiah. They entered into the Kingdom and poured out their lives in sharing the Kingdom with the whole world. The whole world owes these children of Abraham a tremendous debt of gratitude. What a trill!
This Sunday, July 1, 2012, I will be preaching from Acts 3:21-26. Worship begins at 10:45 am. Come and join us, 3201 W 15th St. Plano, TX 75075. Video and audio of the sermon is posted during the week at our website: www.pcbcplano.org
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