Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Sapphira

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
Source: jtbarts.com via Margot on Pinterest


Galatians 6:
Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

God is not mocked
The story of Sapphira shakes our view of a warm fuzzy Jesus. Instant judgement at the hands of God. Yikes. We are told in the 3rd commandment to not take the Lord's name in vain. That verse is not about cussing but about being true to your own word. Swearing an oath before God and in his name is serious. For more on your "Yes and No" click those words for a good message by Rob Bryceson

Sapphira's story is found in the book of Acts 5. We can't really talk about Sapphira with out talking also about her husband Ananias. The two must have noticed the attention that others particularly a guy named Barnabas was getting. You need to flip back in your bibles to the end of Acts chapter 4. The believers where sharing everything. They sold what they had and used it to help support the whole group. They were living in true community. In Acts 4: 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet."

I'm sure he was commended for his willingness to share and to give such a big gift to the community. We don't know a lot about Ananias and Sapphira except that they had land, decided to sell it, held back some of the proceeds for them selves and yet claimed to lay the whole amount at the apostles feet.

Some important things to remember. No one forced them to sell their land, no one forced them to give the whole amount or any amount. Theres is an act of greed and deceit not one of sacrificial giving. They wanted the attention that other givers were getting, they wanted to look like they were great givers but still have the security of their own funds. 

Acts 5:But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 

So this story caused great fear back in the day and it should make each of us shake ourselves to ask what the heck happened to bring about instant death at the hand of God. Lest you think it was just a natural thing like a heart attack the story goes on and the same thing happens to Sapphira a few hours later.


Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

We struggle in sin all the time and yet God is merciful, allowing us time to change, heal and be set free. God is generally very patient and long suffering with each of us. So what is it about the actions of these two people brings on His instant response? 

God was moving among the people in pretty powerful ways. There were miracles, healings an people getting set free from demonic oppression. I don't think Ananias and Sapphira were new believers. I think they were among those who were drawing close to God who was moving very powerfully among the people. I think their willing and planned out sin simply removed them from God's protection. In that instant there was nothing insulating them from Gods power and they got zapped. I don't think it is so much that God suddenly judged them or poured out his wrath but more they stepped away from his protection and life giving presence in a place that was pretty highly charged up with God's power.

I think we need to go back and look at other instances of instant death found in the Bible. I will give you verses to the stories rather than re-tell them in this post. They are worth further study and consideration.

Nadab and Abihu Aaron's son's are careless with the holy things of God.
They don't burn the right mix of prescribed incense before the Lord. God's fire comes down from heaven and burns them up as well. (Lev 10:1-7; 22:9) Aaron their father is not even allowed to leave the tabernacle because he has the holy anointing oil on him. He is warned if he leaves to morn them he alos will be struck dead. Yikes - right. This is what God says about the incident.  
‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”



Korah's rebellion - Numbers 16

Summary of Various Incidents - Psalm 106

I thought we would take a look at some things that provoke God.

Disobedience 
Uzza and the Arc -  2 Samuel 6:3-8  The arc was to be carried on poles not a cart. It was not to be touched. Although Uzzah was simply trying to steady the arc and keeping it from falling but it cost him his life.

When reject his chosen leaders. 

Numbers 12:1(NKJV)
Dissension of Aaron and Miriam
12 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. It lead to her instantly becoming white with with a skin desease. Moses prayed for her but she still had to remain outside of the camp for seven days.
2 Chronicles 36:15-16 (NKJV)
The Fall of Jerusalem
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.

God is Provoked by Injustice 
God is Provoked by Complaining 
God is provoked by Idolatry

Ezekiel 16:26 (NKJV)
26 You also committed harlotry with the Egyptians, your very fleshly neighbors, and increased your acts of harlotry to provoke Me to anger.

2 Chronicles 33:6 (NKJV)
Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.

Jeremiah 25:6-7(NKJV)
6 Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.’ 7 Yet you have not listened to Me,” says the Lord, “that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.
Jesus paid the punishment for our sin but when we continue in deliberate sin, or take part in rebellion, complaining, injustice towards others God withdraws from us. "The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) When we choose sin, we are choosing to suffer the consequences of death. When we reject and push away God, who is the giver of life, we harm ourselves. “All who fail to find me harm themselves; those who hate me love death,” the Lord says in Proverbs (Prov. 8:36).

Well this is not a warm fuzzy message and I doubt it will be particularly popular.
We need to be careful about how we walk and live before a Holy God.
We have a tendency to forget His holiness in favor of his friendship, yet one is not separated from the other. Yes, Jesus is a friend of sinners but he is still holy. One does not carelessly play with electricity. If you stick your finger in a light socket and you are going to get electrocuted and could end up dead. Touch a hot burner on the stove you will burn your hand. Water is great fun to swim and play it but one can also easily drown in that same water. We are made right with a Holy God, because of Jesus paying the penalty for our sins. Judgement for those sins did have to be served by someone. That someone was Jesus.
 
                                                             Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
 









3 comments:

  1. Hi, I am your newest follower from the challenge. That was quite an interesting an eye opening post. Awesome picture.

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  2. A great perspective, even if it turns out to be, as you anticipate, less than popular. Keep it up.

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  3. Such a beautiful picture, along with your intense and thoughtful perspective on each Biblical passage and verse. There is much to consider when reading this post.

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