Alvin York WWII memorial.
Monday, 31 January 2022
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, Acts 4:29
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
The prayer of the disciples continues. They had just noted the gathering of various groups in order to “do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” This gathering of disciples clearly saw the hand and purpose of God in the events that had taken place. Understanding that they too have a continued role in God’s unfolding plan (see Matthew 28:18-20, for example), they desire to do what God wills, both effectively and with boldness. As such, they continue with “Now, Lord, look on their threats.”
In verse 4:24, the address was made to Theos, God. At the same time, they used the title Despotés, or Sovereign Lord. They now say Kurios, signifying a master, sir, or lord, but which is used in the Greek Old Testament when referring to Yehovah. This is certainly what is on their mind as they speak forth to God. In citing the 2nd Psalm, they had said that the rulers were gathered together “Against the Lord [Yehovah] and His Christ.”
As such, they are acknowledging that God who is the Sovereign over all things has, along with His Christ, been attacked. It is therefore incumbent upon His followers to defend His name, title, and position – along with that of His Christ – as they continue on in the charge they had been given. Therefore, their petition is clearly made with the thought of defending the name of the Lord Yehovah and of the Lord Jesus. Because of this, they continue with, “and grant to Your servants.”
This clearly sets the disciples in contrast to ruling council. If the disciples are followers of the Lord, Yehovah, it means that those in the establishment are not. But Jesus had already said as much to the leaders during His ministry –
“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’” John 8:42-44
This is not simply an earthly spat between two rival factions, but a spiritual war between the followers of the true God and followers of the devil. This is clearly understood by them. Therefore, the disciples’ petition is “that with all boldness they may speak Your word.”
In saying, “Your word,” they are clearly referring to the message of Christ, inclusive of the gospel itself. They are not referring to the Old Testament Scriptures, except as they point to Christ. In other words, they are not asking to boldly proclaim the Law of Moses, meaning the Old Covenant. That is clearly understood to be completed through Jesus’ work. He initiated a New Covenant in His blood (Luke 22:20), and – as the author of Hebrews says –
“In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Hebrews 8:13
In coming to Christ, the Mosaic Covenant is made obsolete. It was ineffectual to save, and it had served its intended purpose until the coming of the Messiah who would fulfill it and set it aside. As noted, this is a spiritual war. It pits man and his works against Christ and His works. But the problem with man’s self-righteousness is that it is already stained with sin. Christ’s perfection is what is needed to be pleasing to God. This is what the disciples are asking for boldness to proclaim.
Life application: It may seem almost contradictory to note in one sentence that God has purposed and determined before that certain things be accomplished, and then to ask for boldness to speak on behalf of God in the next. If God has purposed all things, why would people need to act at all?
In such things, we must always consider God’s sovereignty, something already considered by the disciples. Therefore, their prayers (and ours) should factor this in. “Lord, we are Your servants. Direct our steps according to Your will. May our actions be in accord with that.” The apostles have been given a specific charge to speak forth God’s word, so such an appeal is implied in their prayer.
If what we are doing is in accord with God’s will, it will happen. If it is not, it will not. This does not negate the need for prayer. Rather, it highlights it. We are demonstrating a reliance on God’s sovereignty when we lift our prayers to Him in such a manner.
In all things, let us remember that God is God. We are His subjects. What He determines is right, it is good, and it is what is best. Even if we do not understand that, we should take it as an axiom that it is true. From there, we simply need to get out and live our lives according to the manner which He has shown us is right, meaning as is recorded in His word.
Heavenly Father, Your word is written, and it provides guidance for our lives. Help us to live out our lives in accord with that word, and to glorify You as we do. May our lives be proper examples to others of how to live in a manner which pleases You. Amen.