Do you feel like you are often waiting for the next big thing in your life to happen? You know there is something coming; you don’t doubt God’s faithfulness or his promises … but they’re not here yet – not obvious what is exactly going to happen or when. The reason you often feel that was is because, well, that is the way it really is a lot of the time in the Christian life.
In our passage today we see the 11 remaining Disciples (capital “D”), and a group of other disciples that together numbered about 120 people, waiting for the next thing to happen. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, these were his basic commands to them: “Wait here in Jerusalem … in a few days … the gift of the Spirit will come … you will be my witnesses.”
Then he was gone, and they had two angels appear and tell them he would someday come again. Pretty amazing stuff! Even better than the average worship service at Tri-State Fellowship … yep, that good!
So they went into waiting mode, returning to an upper room (perhaps the same one from Holy Week). And what does it say they did? Eat Pringles and dip? Call in pizza? Play board games? No, seriously – They all joined together constantly in prayer. In the confusion of it all, their first IMPULSE was to pray. They were looking to God for direction. Surely they were confessing the confusion of it all, their apprehensions … and certainly as well their worship in amazement for all they had experienced.
In the context of all of this, Peter is led to take a primary role to speak out … yes, Peter – the one who had most failed. He is clearly led by the Spirit in this prayer-enriched environment to understand that two passages from the Old Testament (Psalms 69:25 & 109:8) were referencing the failure of Judas and speaking to the need of a replacement being established for him. Guided by that same Spirit, certain criteria are established – yielding but two possible names. Knowing they should move forward, they chose an unusual method by our senses – the casting of lots – to place it fully in God’s hands as to whom should be the one to take this place. Matthias becomes the choice and he joins the company of the apostles.
The point for today is not to evaluate the odd method used here. It is a long explanation about the casting of lots in that culture and in regard to OT Scriptures … but the point to take away today is that God answered their prayers for guidance with direction and solutions. It will not likely be through the casting of lots or dice or some “eenie meenie miney mo” that we settle upon his guidance. But this same God will honor our requests and petitions by providing over time an ample amount of conviction about his Word, a culmination of circumstances and opportunities, and a fueling of passions and desires that come together in a perfect way at a perfect point in time.
We can always see these things far better when we look back upon them than we can in the midst of the situation – where it may seem that we are waiting and waiting. But while we wait, our IMPULSE should be to pray. God will answer … eventually.
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas – Acts 1:12-26
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.