Strange bedfellows. Thursday October 17th, 2002
Can you imagine being rescued from death by someone that hates Christians? There is a Jew mentioned in the Bible twice, his name is Gamaliel, he was a Pharisee, a doctor of the law, a member of the Sanhedrin. Yet this man, a Pharisee, a member of the gang that was behind the crucifixion of the Lord, the Sanhedrin, saved Peter and John from what would have been certain death.
First we will look at what Peter and John had gotten themselves into this time, then the rescue and then we will look a little closer at our strange bedfellow Gamaliel.
First, Peter and John, the ever troublesome pair.
Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles (Peter and John), and put them in the common prison.
But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught.
But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, saying, "The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within."
Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, "Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people."
Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, "Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this Name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's Blood upon us."
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, "We ought to obey God rather than men.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him."
When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. (Acts 5:17-33)
You gotta hand it to Peter, he sure calls a spade a spade and has no trouble pointing fingers at those who he accuses of murdering Jesus. But, in doing so, he sure got the Sanhedrin mad at him, so mad that they were on the verge of taking him and John and hanging them on a tree or from one at least.
And then along comes our buddy, our strange bedfellow, Gamaliel. You might want to hum the theme song from the Lone Ranger as you read these next few verses, how I wish I knew how to add music.
Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them,
"Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."
And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:34-42)
Don't you just love these two, God, uses Gamaliel to save these two from death, they only get beaten half to death, they go out thanking God and the next morning are back preaching the gospel of Jesus.
But, who is this Gamaliel guy anyhow, how is it that God choose him to rescue Peter and John? Well, let's look and see, maybe this isn't the first time the Lord has used Gamaliel to help an Apostle.
Once upon a time there was another Apostle that seemed to thrive on getting himself in trouble, you and I know him as Paul, but Gamaliel knew him as Saul. One time Paul had managed to get himself in trouble with the local Jews, just as they were about to stone him or worse, a Roman Legionnaire came along and rescued him. We will start were Paul is explaining:
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me,
Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And He said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, "Brother Saul, receive thy sight." And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:1-16)
So, first God used Gamaliel to teach Saul the law and what we would refer to as the entire old testament plus commentaries. Then God used Gamaliel again to save two more of His hand picked men, Peter and John.
So, will we see Gamaliel in heaven? Not unless Gamaliel got saved. The Word of God does not mention him again, we won't know till we get there wether or not Gamaliel was a brother in the Lord or just a strange bedfellow.
Thank You Lord for giving us Your Word, so that we have every opportunity to find Yo, Your truth and salvation through You.
God blessed America when she feared Him, now it appears, she may face His wrath.
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