“LOOK YOU SCOFFERS, BE ASTOUNDED AND PERISH”
The Missionary journeys of Paul now commence and today’s reading in Acts 13 is full of drama about his initial experiences. There are a lessons for us today from the varied reactions of people then, they are so similar to today – although today there are even more scoffers.
Paul and Barnabas came to Antioch in Pisidia (southern Turkey) and went into the synagogue and were invited to speak (v.15). Paul started by giving them a history lesson of God’s actions in bringing Israel through the wilderness to the promised land; then giving them kings, in particular David who God said is, “a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” [v.22] His message then jumps forward to the role of John the Baptist – and then to Jesus and how the Jews “fulfilled them (the message of the prophets) by condemning him” [v.27].
Paul knew many of the Jews in Antioch would do the same by becoming jealous of the Gentiles when they accepted the message that “everyone who believes (in Jesus) is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses.” [v.38,39]. The warning is made, “Beware therefore, lest what is said in the prophets should come about.” [v.40] – that is, God’s judgement on those who were wilfully blind to this new work of God.
Tragically that’s what happened! Now the same can be said of people today and the reaction of so many to any teaching there is even a God at all! Paul quoted the words God inspired the prophet Habakkuk to write, “Look you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’” [v.41, Hab. 1 v.5]
Today we have scoffers who deride the Bible, apparently learned men who scoff at the very thought that there is a God. One day soon, they will “be astounded and perish.” Then God’s laws will come into action, no longer will the permissive laws exist that allow many kinds of ungodliness. Let us prepare ourselves for that time by taking the words of Jesus, the Apostles and the prophets fully to heart.