Acts 9 second lesson
and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Now, I want to take two phrases here, son of God, he is the son of God, and this notion of proving that Jesus was the Christ. Now, I’m just going to make a comment because you can go back and listen to previous episodes. Remember how we talked about the word Moshiach, the word Messiah, and the word Cristos , these are titles. And with the overwhelming New Testament use of the title Cristos, which is the Greek form of messiah, Moshiach, it was always associated with one or two things, a handful of key ideas. And one of which was in the death, burial, and especially the resurrection of Jesus. So when New Testament writers are talking about the Christ, they're talking about the full order gospel. And you say why are you bringing it up? Well, if we can see in verse 22 proving that Jesus was the Christ, again, it obviously uses the title there, he is the Messiah, the eschatological messiah, the ultimate messiah, the M. messiah. This guy was the M. messiah. Then, in verse 20, when it says that Paul was persuading them that Jesus was the son of God, the phrase son of God there, therefore, because of Jesus was the Christ two verses later, the phrase son of God in verse 20 has to mean more than just the Royal King figure from the line of David. Now, what I mean here is that if you look in the Old Testament, in the Old Testament the phrase son of God referred to, it’s used of Israel as a nation,
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son,
and it’s also used of the king of Israel
I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
God refers to the king as my son. So there would be those interpreters that say, look, this was all Paul’s talking about. Paul believes Jesus was of the line of David. He’s descended from David. Paul isn’t loading any of his theological stuff on the title son of God. He’s not talking about like the M messiah here. Jesus is just a descendent of David. That's where we draw the line. That’s all Paul's talking about. All this resurrection stuff here comes later, and the Christians invented that later. And it got imported by scribes back in the New Testament. This is the Bart Ehrman kind of thinking. That is just bunk because of the way Cristos two verses later has been front loaded with all of these references as we saw earlier in our study of Acts, all of the baggage that associates that title with a divine being, a resurrected being, a glorified being, who now sits at the right hand of God and fulfills this great eschatological role in conjunction with the coming of the Spirit. These promises that were given the Old Testament about the Spirit of God coming, forgiveness, that whole thing, reclaiming the nations, which is a heavy eschatological messianic theme, again, recovering, bringing the nations back into the fold, that sort of thing. That was not just in the days of the Israelite kings prior to the exile. That kind of talk is associated with the coming of the Kingdom of God, the real Kingdom of God, the big one, and one that includes everything, the one that includes all the nations. So because of this backdrop of the way Cristos was thought of and the way it’s used by New Testament writers, we need to look at son of God in its fullness, and not just restricted to David's line, that’s it. It just doesn't work here. So I wanted to make that comment as well. And lastly, in this chapter, something to notice here. If we go down a little ways to verse 23
When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.
So when we get down now to verse 32, we transition to Peter. Peter soon will be out of the picture in the book of Acts. It’s going to be sort of Paul onstage for most of the rest of the book once you get out of chapter 10 and 11 and whatnot. But now we hit Peter in verse 32, and it says,
Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
You already know what question I’m going to ask. Why Lydda? What's the big deal? What's up with that place? Again, Lydda is just north east of a town that we've seen already called Azotus which had a, again, that was the Hellenistic name for one of the Philistine cities, and so we talked about how here's another part of the land, another little strip of land that was under Philistine control and the narrator brings it in here to make us realize, okay, even though this was a place that has baggage, was associated with the Rephaim who were Nephilim descendants, and all this stuff. These people too, the Gospel’s going here and it's working. Jesus has power over this place. They are being brought into the kingdom of God. So Lydda or Lod, as it's called in the Old Testament, is near this place. It's not the same place. It’s just adjacent. To try to summarize some of this in kind of quick fashion here, what you have going on here, if you look up the four occurrences of the word Lod in the Hebrew Bible, LOD, you're going to find that it has, it's a bit of an unusual history. You’re going to find it in 1 Chronicles chapter 8:12. That’s probably the most important reference and I’m just going to go there quickly, and I'll read it to you. It’s not going to sound like anything important but it is in the genealogy of the Benjamites, King Saul, this was his tribe back in the Old Testament. And that's 1 Chronicles 8, the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles is nothing but genealogy. So we’re right in the middle of that, right toward the end of it, anyway. We get to verse 12 it says,
The sons of Elpaal: Eber, Misham, and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod with its towns,
You say, who gives a rip? Who cares? Big deal, this is the genealogy of Benjamin. The city of Lod does not fall within Benjamite territory in the Old Testament. It, therefore, there’s a question of what is this place? Whose territory really is it? Why are Benjamite's living in it after the exile, which is when you get 1 Chronicles? Why do they go back there? Why do they live in it? And if it's not really in their territory, whose territory is it in? You'll find from references in Joshua when the allotments are given, again, I’m summarizing a lot of pretty convoluted complex stuff. You'll find that Lod was either, again you can’t be completely certain because of where the tribes overlap, the tribal boundaries overlap, and Lod is or isn't mentioned. But it's assumed you'll find it’s either in the tribal allotment to what would've been Samaria, Shimon, that area up there. We've already talked about Samaria before. That was the northern kingdom that apostatized and whatnot, or, and here’s where I lean, or it's in the territory that winds up being in the place where the people from the tribe of Dan lived. Now Dan, and for those of you who don't know, is one of these Old Testament mysteries. And it's because of numerous conflicting things said about Dan in the Old Testament. I'll just give you few instances. Usually, when you get a place or a person, this case Dan, a tribal name in the genealogy, they tend to be listed in the same numerical order or in the same place. There’s a little variation but it's usually pretty consistent. Dan is never consistent. It can be second. It can be fourth. It could be sixth. It could be tenth. It could be twelfth. It's just all over the place, so that has really sort of raised eyebrows among scholars like, why does it keep changing positions and sometimes, sometimes, it's not even mentioned. It's actually skipped. If you actually go through, and I don’t really recommend it unless you’re looking for a way to cure insomnia, but if you look through, read through 1 Chronicles 1-9, you don’t get a treatment of the genealogy of Dan. I dropped a few hints before in I think at least one other class, there's a suspicion that's cast over the tribe of Dan.
Tribe of Dan
Tribe of Dan
The tribe of Dan originally was allotted territory near Benjamin but they left. The people the tribe of Dan were ones that were mentioned the book of Judges as having failed to drive out the Giants, the Anakim, okay, and they just didn’t do the job. And so they got into a bad situation, again, summarizing a lot of the details, and they decided eventually to move north. The tribe migrated. If you remember in the book of Judges, this is when you get the weird story about the Danites and the Levite who had sort of an idle with him, and they kidnapped this guy, and he was going to be their priest and they move up north. They take the city of Leisch, and they rename it Dan. Of course, later in Dan’s history, what happens becomes a cult center to Baal. It's right there nestled right next to Mount Hermon. You get all these bad associations with Dan because they forsook their inheritance. They migrate north, and they wind up in these northern parts. Well, it could be, because of this migration, that this place name Lod, here, that shows up in Acts chapter 9, Lydda or Lod, is in Danite territory, right on the boundary. So what’s the point? What's the theological messaging? Well, think about it. You have a tribe that has a bad history, it’s a questionable history. They did not drive out the giant clans. Their original territory, in fact, some of it gets taken over by the giant clans. They move north and they’re idolaters. The place becomes a cult center to Baal. It’s in the region of Bashan, right up there next to Mount Hermon. This is the territory of the Rephaim, the bad guys, more giant clans the Old Testament. There’s just a shadow, a sinister shadow, over the tribe of Dan. The whole prophecy thing in the book of Revelation about the 144,000, if you actually go read Revelation chapter 4 where the 144,000 are listed, guess which tribe is not there? Dan, it's omitted. Why? All of this stuff cumulatively, even during the Second Temple period before we had Christians, but certainly after the rise of Christianity, the tribe of Dan became intertwined because they settled in the region of the serpent Bashan. It became part of the antichrist teaching, antichrist speculation, that the tribe of Dan had something to do with a great enemy that would rise in the north, that would be associated with this really icky stuff, like Mount Hermon, the watchers, the Nephilim, all this kind of stuff, Dan just had a shadow over it. And so here in the book of Acts, before we get chapter 10, when Peter’s going to have his vision about taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, and Paul's going to do that, this last scrap of land in Canaan, in the holy land that the writer wants us to be sure that the Gospel has power over this place, is, guess what, it's Lydda, it's Lod, and it attaches itself to the region of Dan, to the tribe of Dan. So they're not getting skipped either is the point, they are part of this reclamation process. The Gospel has power in that place, too, despite all the baggage, despite all the spooky stuff, that is associated with that region, the Gospel has power there. Because if you go back and look, look what happens with Aeneas. In this place, Peter finds a man named Aeneas bedridden for eight years. He’s paralyzed. Peter says rise and make your bed, and immediately, he rose. And in the last line here, ‘and all the residents of Linda and Sharon,’ which is the plain right next to it, a geographical plain next to it, ‘saw him and they turned to the Lord.’ The next part of the chapters is Joppa, the story of Dorcas and Tabitha. We know that story a little bit more. It's in the same region. Joppa, Azotus, Lod, all these places that have sinister associations, the point is that the Spirit has power in those places to the same degree and for the same reasons and with the same thoroughness as anywhere else. It doesn't matter what cosmic geographical associations have accrued to a place. It's all the Lord’s. It will be reclaimed. Going back to Matthew 16, the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against the Church, against the Gospel, and these are living illustrations in the cosmic geographical thinking of the time. They’re living illustrations that this is serious. This plan is serious. Nothing is going to be omitted and overlooked. It’s all going to be put under the authority of the King. It’s all under the power of God. So, again, I know that’s a little scattershot for Acts chapter 9, but I wanted to highlight some of the things that usually get overlooked, that feed into this thing that I call the Divine Council worldview of Scripture.
If you're hearing that, and if you know the Genesis stories, if you know this whole concept of God and the Divine Council, the heavenly host, and especially what Genesis 1, its temple building. Eden is God's living place. It’s his living room, and it is where he lives. It’s where he conducts business. The council’s there. Adam and Eve are there. We’re supposed to be there. We are supposed to be there. And you know why we’re not. Just that much of an observation raises the question, well, how do we fix that problem? Again, that's the book of Acts. We’ll tell you how to fix that problem. You have Jesus, who, by the way, you guys put to death, but it’s okay. He rose again. He’s offering forgiveness, you know, the whole plan of salvation is right there.