The Advent Part 31
Acts 1:23-26, “And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, ‘You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.’ And they cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
At the time of their choosing who the twelfth apostle would be, the Holy Spirit had as yet not descended from heaven, and being uncertain as to which one they should choose, they brought two men before the congregation. As yet, the apostles still operated in the way of the Old Testament, and so they decided to pray and cast lots to see whom God would choose from among the two that had been selected to replace Judas.
Whenever we do the work of God, caution is always a prerequisite. No matter how well intentioned we might be, no matter how much we think we know the mind of God, it is best to make certain that God is the one leading, God is the one choosing, and God is the one inspiring.
Since both men were equally up to the task of being the twelfth apostle and I say this because it is evident that they met all the prerequisites of filling the vacant position, and the apostles could not choose between them, they decided to come before God and ask Him to make this difficult yet important decision.
The apostles had done their part, as much as they could, they chose the two men, and now it was up to God to choose from among the two.
First, was Barsabas, meaning son of return, or son of rest, and second was Matthias, meaning gift from God.
The prayer that was prayed was direct and straightforward, absent of ambiguity. The apostles knew that whomever God chose, there would be no hurt feelings, there would be no disappointments because they were all brothers in the same cause, and their purpose was to lift high the name of Jesus and not themselves. They knew that the choice God would make would be the best choice, in fact the only choice and they likewise knew that though they might err in their thinking, though they might have chosen wrong, God would neither err nor make the wrong choice.
Whenever we are confronted with decisions that are difficult to make, whenever we are confronted with the notion of having to choose between two almost identical things, it is best, and wise to take it before God and ask Him to choose on our behalf. He will never make the wrong choice, He will never lead us down the wrong path, and He will never ask us to do something that will turn out to be in our detriment.
After they prayed the apostles cast lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. Although casting lots is mentioned some seventy times in the Old Testament, what it is that it actually entailed, or what the lots actually were remains unknown. People have speculated, as people are fond of doing, saying that the lots were sticks of various lengths, some kind of dice, or some sort of flat stone like coins, but in reality these are just guesses.
What we do know with certainty is that the custom or tradition of casting lots was no longer used in the Bible as pertains to the work of God after the advent of the Holy Spirit. As such, we can infer that since the advent of the Holy Spirit this practice ought not to be used any longer among believers, even though it was customary and often used in the Old Testament. Now we have the anointing, we have the Holy Spirit, and it is the anointing that teaches us and directs us.
1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
Matthias replaced Judas the fallen, being numbered among the twelve, who were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. God chose Matthias. It was not Peter, it was not James, it was not Andrew it was God. At the time Paul was not numbered among the twelve, since his conversion came later, and he was considered apostle to the Gentiles. In Biblical symbolism as we know, the number twelve symbolizes the number of what is completed, that which forms a whole, or a perfect and harmonious unit. The number of the twelve apostles was now complete, because it was the number that Christ established as the foundation of His church.
With this handful of souls, through the power of the Holy Spirit, with signs and wonders following, God was about to change the world. It doesn’t take an army for God to do a great work; it doesn’t take masses of individuals for God to reach a certain city or a certain nation. In God’s economy numbers mean very little, in fact they are downright irrelevant. What does matter to God, what God must have without equivocation is faithful, humble, obedient and fully committed souls who have already forfeited this life, who have surrendered their all that they might obtain His all, and who will stand for truth no matter the cost. God is still looking for laborers, not because He needs great numbers, but because He is particular and selective when choosing those whom He sends into His harvest field. Yes, the harvest is plentiful, but fewer and fewer individuals are willing to labor in order to bring that harvest in. May God give us hearts of compassion that we might not beg off labor thinking that we are management material and laboring is beneath us, but that we faithfully set about doing what God requires of us with joy and thankfulness of heart.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.