“’Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?’ When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.’” (11:17-18)
Believers had only been sharing the gospel to fellow Jews (11:19). This was, after all, a continuation of their story. Jesus was their Messiah.
I’ve heard from Muslims friends, the most tantalizing message the prophet Muhammad brought to the Arab world, was this new revelation about the God of Abraham being for everyone. What good news that would be, to the long time neighbors of Israel. Those who knew about the Exodus and the legendary power of YHWH to save, would be thrilled to know He wanted them too.
This was always supposed to be the purpose to Israel. The LORD specifically chose “the promised land” to be the intersection of the nations. Megiddo was where trade routes from Asia, Africa and Europe met. The divine purpose was for the world to hear of a people whose God was more powerful than any other and full of love.
Unfortunately, it is human nature to keep good things to ourselves, especially when we dislike or distrust those around us. Israel wanted to be the sole survivors. Their vindication would come, hand in hand with the condemnation of others.
The book of Acts chronicles this Holy Spirit push beyond the boarders of Israel, taking the Good News of the Loving Salvation of God to the ends of the earth. The Sprit of God Himself, now active within His people, proclaimed the Good News of inclusion 500 years before Muhammad.
Although hesitant and skeptical at first, it is inspiring to see how the LORD moved the hearts of His people to share His Spirit with Gentiles too.
What does this look like for us? Of course, we can be thankful (since we and most of our readers are not Jewish) that the Spirit of God is desiring to reside in us too. But how can we “pay it forward”? All blessings are meant to be used to bless others. Is there something the LORD has given you that you would like to keep for yourself? Is He asking you to share that thing? Are you bothered by the LORD’s blessing on someone you don’t think deserves it? Ask Him today what good fortune He might be choosing to bestow on your neighbors. It’s time to get on board with The Plan.