Today we reached the end of the book of ACTS: but first we read Ezra ch. 8 and Hosea ch. 9 – and, as so often happens, we perceived related thoughts in all of today’s chapters. Hosea in his 9th chapter portrays the attitude of the people before they were taken away into captivity. He was caused to write (and no doubt tell them) “The days of punishment have come… he (God) will remember their iniquity; he will punish their sins.” [v.7,9]
In contrast, Ezra recounts how the faithful journey with him – back from captivity. They were inspired by the example of a man of faith, for Ezra said, ” I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him….” [v.22]
If God inspired a prophet in today’s world what kind of message would he be given to convey? But of course, God’s word is available in all languages throughout the world – and how remarkable are the prophecies that those who have a mind to read – can read! The last words in our chapter in Hosea warned, ” My God will reject them because they have not listened to him; they shall be wanderers among the nations.” And so it happened, particularly because they would not listen to his Son.
The book of Acts concludes with an account of Paul reaching Rome and Jews coming to him at his lodging. “From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus…” [v.23] The result was, they were “disagreeing among themselves” [v.25] causing Paul to reflect on what the Holy Spirit had caused Isaiah to write.
“‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand … For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed …” [v.26,27]
This is true more than ever today. The Bible is available in every language – but “eyes … (are) closed” so there is no chance, or very little, that “this people” today, “hear” what God is saying in his word – may our Lord help us to resist these attitudes – which are all around us. Our dedicated daily reading of his word lays the foundation for this resistance, so that the “hand” of God is on us “for good.”