Book of Acts, Chapter 1, Verses 6-8 - Missionary Intent
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Book of Acts, Chapter 1, Verses 6-8 (continued)
Verse 6. “When they therefore were come together, (they came together on the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem. At one time it was covered with olive trees. Jesus often came here to pray. Several important events took place on this mountain.) they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
Verse 7. “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”
Verse 8. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8) When Jesus expanded His directive about witnessing to include areas beyond Judea, it would have been interesting. What Jesus proposed would have been radical to any first-century Jew. His words, “Samaria and the uttermost…,” represented the breaking of geographical, cultural, philosophical, social and racial barriers so people everywhere could hear the gospel.
What Jesus instructed as the aftermath to receiving the Holy Ghost could be called “The Ignored Commandment.” After the outpouring of the spirit and the early miracles, the gospel became “Jerusalem bound” in that Jerusalem remained the residence of these early disciples until persecution rose about Stephen in Acts chapter 8.
The apostles stayed in Jerusalem till Herod put John in prison and then put him to death (Acts 8:1, 10:1-2). The reading of the events recorded between chapters 2 and 8 only takes a few minutes, but the time lapse between the outpouring of the spirit until the apostles left Jerusalem was eight years.
Even then the disciples did not leave to carry out the strategic directive Jesus had left them; instead, they were scattered by persecution.
Judea was a southern division of the Holy Land. Judea would have been within the disciple’s comfort zone.
Samaria would not have been comfortable for them at all. Samaria was something of a conglomeration of people. Samaria had been the capitol of the nation of Israel. Israel started in a rebellion by ten tribes of Israel against the two tribes of Judah.
The first action of their king was to establish an altar to Jehovah. It would be convenient, not requiring the travel to Jerusalem to worship.
Samaria is named after Samer of Shemer (1 Kings 16:24). From Samaria, the city built by Omri, the kings of the ten tribes held court. This was the case until Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, took away Hoshea, Israel’s last king. When Shalmaneser took Hoshea, he also took the most capable Israelites.
Samaria was left without effective leadership. Some years after Hoshea and others were forcibly removed, another ruler of Assyria who was Shalmaneser’s nephew – Esarhaddon (called Asnapper the great and noble – Ezra 4:10) gathered a mixed group of people from Cuth, Babylon, Hamathed, Sepharaim, and Chaves and sent them to repopulate Samaria and the surrounding area (2 Kings 17:24, Ezra 4:2, 10).
These emigres were foreign people who had little knowledge of Jehovah. The culture of Samaria would also have been anti-Jehovah for in the late years of the nation of Israel, there had been little service to Jehovah. Suffice it to say that Esarhaddon’s newly recruited residents of Samaria did not worship the God of Israel but served idols.
When many of these imported people were eaten by lions, Esarhaddon sent for one of the priests his uncle had carried away captive. His request for the priest was specific and his purpose clear. The priest taught these newcomers to Palestine to serve the Lord in the way of Jeroboam. The outcome: Samaritans served their idols while at the same time giving lip service to Jehovah (2 Kings 17:25, 33, 41). The cultural dynamics in Samaria would have been:
- Worship of false gods; idolatry like that of the nations that had surrounded Israel.
- Service to Jehovah given grudgingly and as something of a lucky charm against evil. Jamaican tradition to be in church at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve; to be in prayer as the clock strikes midnight.
- As was noted by the “woman of Samaria” (John 4:20) the Samaritans did not worship in Jerusalem.
- Finally, the residents of Samaria were a racial polyglot. This would have been distasteful to the Hebrews who could track their genealogy back to Abraham.
That the residents of Samaria hear the gospel was more important to Jesus than the restoration of the kingdom to Israel would have been beyond the disciples’ imagination.
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