With Job’s companions offering an unsatisfactory understanding of human suffering, Job 28 marks a turning point in the book with a poem about the elusiveness of wisdom which climaxes with the conclusion that man must look to God for He is the source of wisdom.
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’
The persecution of the infant church outlined in Acts 6-9 set in train a chain of events that ensured not just its survival but rapid expansion. With breaking of a mindset that had been in place for hundreds of years in Acts10, the door is open for outsiders to enter in.
Acts 11:19-30 is another milestone in the life of the early church. Persecution had scattered the believers geographically but not religiously as we are told in verse 19 – travelling as “far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews.”
But there were those who were from Cyprus and Cyrene who were prepared to preach to the Hellenists (Greeks) who had come to Antioch and their cross-cultural ministry was blessed with “a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”
As the exciting news of these new converts filtered back to the church in Jerusalem, Barnabas (a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith v 24) was sent to Antioch to water the seed that had been sown there. As the church grew, Barnabas was led to enlist Saul’s help in teaching and pastoring the new believers.
No longer a Jewish sect that had recognised the coming of the Messiah; a greater distinction is made and the new disciples are for the first time identified as Christians.
The church in Jerusalem continued to keep a close eye on the spread of the gospel in Antioch and dispatched prophets to minister to the church there. One of these, Agabus was given insight that a famine would soon devastate the country which prompted the compassion of the new believers in Antioch wanting to give back by sending “relief to the brothers living in Judea”.
In these verses we see how God’s blessing was upon the ministry of church in Antioch as it sought to live out what it meant to be – Faithful, Adventurous and Compassionate.