Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. For they said, ‘Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’”Acts 13:41
It is clear, this closing statement of Paul’s HAS disturbed some of you. More responses have come in following Gem 1623 when I gave you time to look at the statement for yourselves. In looking for the source for the quote Tony found Habakkuk 1:5 which he noticed was cross referenced to Isaiah 29:8 and 9. Which to Tony, “actually seemed to illustrate Paul’s point a lot better. Hab 1:5 seems an odd choice given the context.”
Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told.Habakkuk 1:5
Paul’s quote reads: Look, you mockers, be amazed and die! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.’”
“A hungry person dreams of eating but wakes up still hungry. A thirsty person dreams of drinking but is still faint from thirst when morning comes. So it will be with your enemies, with those who attack Mount Zion. Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor! For the LORD has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries. All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.” When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.” And so the Lord says, “These people say they are Mine. They honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. And their worship of Me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!”Isaiah 29:8-15
Our question to answer: is Paul referring just to this prophecy of Habakkuk’s or is he referring to prophecies down through the history of Israel? The context that Paul has set before this closing statement suggests there have been many prophecies not just this one statement in Habakkuk. If you pay attention to the detail of the text before us you will see the little clue – “don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you”. It is not “don’t let the prophet’s words apply to you”; rather it’s “don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you”. Yes these two statements are different simply in the positioning of the apostrophe. The reading from Paul is actually plural prophets’ words, not simply Habakkuk’s words. In fact it would have not been amazing at all, not to the point of being “utterly amazing” if we only had Habakkuk’s words. What makes Habakkuk’s words more amazing is that they are backed up by the words of all the prophets who preceded him. That is the point. How many times must God tell you? He had been telling the Israelites over and over for centuries but they still don’t get it. That is the point of verses 17-41 where Paul lays out the track record of Israel’s indifference or rebellion. Thus he says I (God) am going to do something in your day that you wouldn’t believe even if you were told. The point is you have been told and all of Israel’s historical record points you to the same conclusion. If you don’t heed the Words of the Lord spoken through His prophets then you will face judgment. The coming amazing thing in Habakkuk’s time was the Babylonian invasion. As you have seen in Gems 1621 and 1622 Paul is showing this people gathered in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia that God had been speaking to the nation of Israel down through the ages but they had not heeded His voice. Now Paul switches the focus to those in synagogue at the time he was speaking. Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you. You are in the same position your ancestors were but you stand on this side of the coming of the Messiah.
Paul has lifted this statement out of Habakkuk dealing with the Babylonian captivity to warn the people they too will die if they mock the words of all the prophets of Israel and do nothing about them. Hence Paul makes the quote from Habakkuk even more pointed by adding the words “and die” to the quote from Habakkuk. Yes it is forceful. So too are the words from Isaiah 29 which caught Tony’s eye by way of the cross reference. It is fair to say the words in Isaiah are linked over a wider spread to coming judgment and the LORD through Isaiah makes it clear it was a heart problem not a hearing problem. They could even repeat the words but they did not come from the heart. However in the Isaiah passage the focus was more the religious leaders. In Habakkuk it is the people and the passage in Habakkuk in more directly linked to the coming Babylonian invasion. The quote from Hab 1:5 is very clear and Paul makes it clearer still by adding the words “and die”.
What is interesting is that as with all Biblical prophecies there are multiple fulfillments. So too in this case. There is a time coming (AD 70) when judgement will fall on Israel again and many will die but actually it is more the matter of the second death which is in focus. Not physical death but spiritual death. You had better pay attention to the bigger message than to be simply worrying about the fact you are going to die physically some day. Be more concerned about your eternal salvation – the reason the Messiah came. The Messiah has come, you are not still waiting for Him. Jesus is Messiah and we are His witnesses.
That is why Paul follows his comments about the message of Jewish history with these words:
“Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us! The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the One the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned Him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath. They found no legal reason to execute Him, but they asked Pilate to have Him killed anyway. “When they had done all that the prophecies said about Him, they took Him down from the cross and placed Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead! And over a period of many days He appeared to those who had gone with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now His witnesses to the people of Israel. “And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors, and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus. This is what the second psalm says about Jesus: ‘You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father. ‘ For God had promised to raise Him from the dead, not leaving Him to rot in the grave. He said, ‘I will give You the sacred blessings I promised to David.’ Another psalm explains it more fully: ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to rot in the grave.’ This is not a reference to David, for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, and his body decayed. No, it was a reference to someone else—someone whom God raised and whose body did not decay. “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this Man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in Him is declared right with God—something the law of Moses could never do.”Acts 13:26-39
It is makes me think of the words from the Book of Hebrews:
So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus Himself and then delivered to us by those who heard Him speak?Hebrews 2:1-3
That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried My patience, even though they saw My miracles for forty years.Hebrews 3:7-9
Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!Hebrews 12:25
I personally think this was an on going message of Paul’s whenever he went, first to the synagogue to speak to both Jews and Gentiles (Greeks).
Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking to you now today.Ian Vail
For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses and the prophets, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!Hebrews 12:25
Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you.Ian Vail
Now check out their reaction to Paul’s words and test yours to see which side you are on. Ian (Read Acts 13:42-52)
As Paul and Barnabas left the synagogue that day, the people begged them to speak about these things again the next week. Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God. The following week almost the entire city turned out to hear them preach the word of the Lord. But when some of the Jews saw the crowds, they were jealous; so they slandered Paul and argued against whatever he said.
Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, “It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made You a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers. So the Lord’s message spread throughout that region.
Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium.
And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.Acts 13:42-52