As Paul was giving his defense before the Jews, the thing that stood out to me today, was their response to his testimony of Jesus Christ, that He was sending him far away to the Gentiles. They had such a violent reaction to this statement that they believed he deserved death! Now, why?
Remember the original lie these believing Jews had been told: that Paul was, among the Gentiles, teaching both Jew and Greek to forsake Moses, something that they did not do, nor did the Torah or the Prophets teach Israel to do. Not only are many of the commandments and statutes eternal and permanent – not only was there to be one Torah for Jew and Gentile alike who had come to connect himself to the God of Israel – but the Prophets prophesied of the New Birth, that a characteristic of it would be careful obedience to the commandments and statutes of the Lord from a new heart! (Jer 31:33, Eze 36:25-27).
Traditionally, the Gentiles were the enemies of God and the enemies of the Jews. They had become the enemies of God when they rejected God from being God over them at the Tower of Babel incident (Gen 11:1-9). The seed of Abraham had been called out from among the nations to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Examples of how Israel regarded the Gentiles can be read in 1 Chr 16:8-36 and Ps 106:34-43.
Mingling with Gentiles had come to culturally mean, forsaking the Lord and mingling the worship of YHVH with that of idols – capital punishment offenses according to Torah. So we can understand a little bit where the animosity was coming from.
However, it is also true that in many places, the Prophets prophesied that Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles, and that the Gentiles would come to Zion to give glory to the God of Israel (Isa 11:10, Isa 42:1-7, Isa 49:1-6, Amo 9:11-12, Mal 1:11, and many more).
The problem came with how the Jews expected Messiah to accomplish the bringing of the light to the Gentiles. We saw that they did not perceive that Messiah would come in two comings, an early coming and a late coming, with a first coming in humility and a second coming in glory. They were looking for one coming, the expected coming in glory. I think even the believing Jews expected that Messiah would return in glory in the first century, in their lifetimes. In His glorious coming, they believed that Messiah would bring light to the Gentiles by imposing Torah as Law among the Gentile nations (Psa 2). Then finally they would not be walking in unrighteousness and idolatry and rebellion any longer. And I do believe, that when Messiah Yeshua returns, He will rule the nations with a rod of iron from Jerusalem, and every nation will be made to submit to the rule of Torah so that justice and righteousness will reign in the earth.
But they did not realize that the time gap between His first and second coming would be as great as it has been, and that in the mean time, the Gentiles would receive Light because they would receive Messiah by faith and by His Spirit! Even though this incident took place many years after Peter preached to Cornelius in Acts 10 (perhaps 10 or 20 years later), the old ideas died hard. 🙂 And it was Paul who received the revelation of the mystery of the Gospel to the Gentiles, so they were perhaps not as used to the teaching in Jerusalem, as we are from reading Paul’s letters.
Creation week in itself is a prophecy of the times of the coming of Messiah. For in six days God worked, and on the 7th day He rested. So for six millennia the curse of sin will be on the world (which is work, Gen 3:16-19), but the 7th millennium will be the millennium of rest under the kingship of the Messiah. After it became clear that Messiah’s return would not happen within the lifetime of the apostles, this understanding of the prophetic nature of the Creation week was the common one held by the early Church fathers as can be seen from their writings.
The fact remains that we are very close to the end of the six millennia of the curse and work! Ussher figured the first day of creation at 4004 BC, which would place the end of the 6th millennium at 2004 AD – which is past. However, there are too many years in our BC calendars, because there have been too many years assigned to the Persian kings. We are told that the destruction of the Temple took place in 586 BC — based on the current number of years accepted for the Persian kings, which are too many — and 70 years later, the decree went forth to rebuild Jerusalem, so 516 BC.
But the angel told Daniel that there would be 69 weeks from the going forth of the decree until the coming of the Anointed One (Dan 9:25), or 483 years (not 516 or 516 + 30 = 546 years). We can rest assured that God knows what year it is. If our BC dating had been accurate, the decree went forth ~ 453 BC – because Yeshua did not become the Anointed One until He was baptized in the Jordan by John at approximately the age of 30 years. So our BC calendars might be off by as much as 60 years, give or take! We just are not sure. So even though we know we are in the ballpark for the end of the 6000 years, no man knoweth the time. It could be this year, next year, ten or twenty years from now – we do not know.
Moral of the story: Stay watching, prepared, and waiting! Keep oil in your lamps! Look up, for your redemption draws near!