by John and Ruth Greene
In our last article, we discovered that a regular activity in first century meetings of disciples was healing, which is often a rarity today among peoples that reject this spiritual gift. When you focus on your Savior, the negative attitudes around you fade into obscurity because, through the provision of your Heavenly Father, nothing is impossible. Disciples simply need to be willing to believe the example of their Master. (Luke 1:37; Hebrews 11:6) Authorities among us may take exception to what they see or discover about unapologetic Christians that won’t compromise. Those that hold authority may feel threatened or intimidated. This was true in the first century.
“Then the high priest stood up, and all the ones with him being the sect of the Sadducees, being filled with jealousy, then laid their hands on the apostles, placing them in public prison.” – Acts 5:17-18, direct translation
What happened next, most of us would consider impossible today. Yet, disciples of that day lived this ‘impossibility.’ The reality is that right-minded and spiritually-focused disciples will often find that YHWH works out amazing feats in even the most mundane matters to sustain and benefit His people. It happens all the time, but you need to be tuned in to what is happening to see some of these ‘tiny’ miracles. (“The Miracle of Living Water“; “Do You See Miracles in Your Life?“; “Explore: The Miracle of the New Man“)
Miracles such as these, quite honestly, depend on your trust, and perhaps, even the importance of what you are doing. If you aren’t doing anything for your Heavenly Father in the cause of the Messiah, His covenant promises can’t be assumed or assured. Consider that truth as you focus your life on the cause of Savior! Remember the parable of the talents. When you are faithful, YHWH will give you more, and so it goes as you continue in Him and grow in spiritual maturity. (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 12:32-48; 1 Corinthians 10:13; “Spiritual Disease that Eats at Your Salvation“; “Abiding With YHWH in Quiet Places“; “Abiding in Trust“)
“Now, a messenger of Elohim opened up the prison doors at night and led them out saying, ‘Take a walk and continue to speak in the Temple to the people all of the words of life.’ They understood, entering into the Temple after dawn to teach. But the high priest came, even those that were with him, calling the council together for all the elders of the sons of Israel, and sending out to the prison to have them brought. But the officers came and did not find them in the prison. And they returned, bringing word saying, ‘The prison was truly found shut with all security, and the sentries standing outside in front of the doors. But when opened, we found no one inside.’ But after that, the high priest and the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard about this matter, they were thoroughly perplexed, wondering what had happened. Then came a man reporting to them saying, ‘The men whom you placed in prison are standing in the Temple and teaching the people.’” – Acts 5:19-25, direct translation
The authorities didn’t even recognize that they were no longer holding the disciples as prisoners, yet they were teaching as usual in Solomon’s portico. When you are doing important works for the purpose of your Messiah, you may find a similar beneficial influence in your life. Yet, even that is likely to stir up the authorities to a furor, as if you had actually done something wrong. Of course, in the eyes of the authorities, you are wrong, because you have been rescued from their oppression in a way that they can’t explain. (“The Role of Authority in Your Life“; “Disciples of Messiah & the Authority of Man“)
“At that time, the captain and the officers departed and brought them without force because they were afraid of the people, that they would be stoned. And they brought them to stand before the council. Then the high priest questioned them saying, ‘Were you not given a mandate not to teach in this Name? For see, you have filled Jerusalem with your instruction and intend to charge this man’s blood to us.’” – Acts 5:26-28, direct translation
Peter and disciples were faced with a court of man. Yet, your Savior promised that the Holy Spirit would let them know what to say. (Luke 12:11-12) That is exactly what happened. They were direct, confrontational and to the point.
“Then Peter and the apostles responded saying: “We must obey Elohim rather than men. The Elohim of our fathers raised up Yahshua [Jesus] whom you laid hands on and hanged on a timber. The Same has Elohim exalted with His right hand, a Prince and Savior to minister repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. For we are His witnesses concerning these matters, and also the Holy Spirit that Elohim has brought forth to those that obey Him.” – Acts 5:29-32, direct translation
When facing human courts and judges, or other earthly authority, you may not know what to say, but the Holy Spirit is your helper when you are operating in will of your Heavenly Father. No doubt, the authority, whoever that authority may be, will feel dishonored and intimidated. The apostles faced this prospect, but a wiser man among the religious judges thought better:
“Now they understood, cut to the heart, and resolved to put them to death. Then one stood up in the council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a rabbi of reputation among all the people, ordering to secure the apostles outside for a little while. Then he said to them, ‘ Men of Israel, you should beware as to what you intend to accomplish regarding these men. For before these days, Theudas rose up, calling himself to be somebody, which a number of men cleaved to, about four hundred in number. Some were put to death, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought to nothing. After him Judas of Galilee raised up in the days of the assessment, drawing away many people after him. Likewise, he perished, and all those that obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, draw away from these men and let them be, for if their purpose or work be of men, it will come to nothing. But, if it is of Elohim, you will not be able to overthrow them. Perhaps it would be perceived that you are an enemy of Elohim.” – Acts 5:33-39, direct translation
Whatever the case, wherever you represent the Messiah, a testimony will be given. When this happens you can change hearts. If not, the authorities and anyone else listening have had their opportunity to listen. (John 3:14-21; 1 John 5:9-11; “Overcoming Fear During Tough Times“; “Living in an Apostate World“)
“And by him they [the Sanhedrin] were convinced. So they summoned the apostles, beating them, commanding that they must not speak in the Name of Yahshua [Jesus], and dismissing them. And finally they departed from the presence of the council, glad because they were worthy of dishonor for His Name. For all of them were daily in the Temple and in many homes. They did not cease teaching and declaring Yahshua [Jesus] Messiah.” – Acts 5:40-42, direct translation
Certainly, the apostles did not escape a measure of punishment. What was their attitude? They rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer dishonor for Yahshua [Jesus]. The disciples knew that they had no intention of following the command of these authorities, despite the repeat of their rebuke by these men in authority. The same is true for any disciple that obediently faces authorities that oppose the work of the Messiah or that may oppress disciples for ‘other matters.’ As you operate in the Will of YHWH, you have the assistance and assurance of a higher power, a power that is far higher than those on earth that proclaim their authority and power over you. (Acts 4:13; John 15:18; Luke 6:22; “The Secret Weapon of Disciples“; “YHWH’s Protection in Difficult Times“; “Going through the Valleys of Difficulty“)