God’s word of salvation always went to Jews in the Old Testament, and even in the New Testament (Acts 3:12,26). God had a plan to save the Gentiles, but it involved saving Israel “first” (Acts 3:26), then using them to save the Gentiles. The Jews were supposed to rise to the occasion by receiving the Lord, and the Gentiles were supposed to be drawn to the brightness of the rising of the entire nation (Isa. 60:1-3). When they fell instead, God introduced His secret plan to reach the Gentiles directly (Acts 113:26) through Israel’s fall, a plan He called the mystery (Rom.11:11,25).
At Pentecost, Peter blamed the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem for not receiving Christ, using the pronoun “ye” a lot (Acts 2:22,23; 3:13,14). But Paul told the Jews in Antioch it wasn’t their fault that their rulers rejected Him, using “they” a lot (Acts 13:27,28). The nation may have rejected Christ, but God was reaching out to individual Jews through Paul.
Those Jews fulfilled Scripture in condemning Him (Acts 13:27), but that doesn’t mean they had to condemn Him. God planned for them to receive Christ and sacrifice Him for their sins instead of animals (Ps.118:26cf.Mt.21:9).
But either way He died, God’s plan also involved raising Christ from the dead (Acts 13:29-33). The word “begotten” (v.33) is usually associated with giving life to a son by fathering him (Gen.5:4), but God begat His Son by giving Him life after He died, making him the “first begotten of the dead” (Rev.1:5). Others in the Bible rose from the dead, but just got their old lives back and died again. Christ was the first to rise with new life, resurrection life (Rom.6:9).
But why did the Father have to tell His Son, “Thou art My Son,” the day He raised Him from the dead? When people rise from the dead, they don’t rise with amnesia, to where they need to be told who they are. But this was the day of the Lord’s bar mitzvah. When He was 12, his earthly bar mitzvah made Him Joseph’s adult son, when his father recognized He was old enough to go into the family carpentry business, which we know He did (Mark 6:3). But He reminded His parents He had another Father and another family business to go into (Lu.2:42-49). That Father was in the quickening business (Jo.5:17-21), and someday the Lord will raise our dead loved ones, and later kingdom believers.
David spoke of his soul being confined in the comfort side of hell while his body was in the grave (Ps.16:810 cf. Lu.16:19-31). He was comforted by the knowledge that God wouldn’t “leave” his soul there, that God would raise him from the dead before his body began to “see corruption” on the fourth day (cf. Jo.11:38,39). But as Peter pointed out, God didn’t raise him. He explained that David was a prophet who was talking about Christ’s resurrection on the third day (Acts 2:25-29). That’s why Paul quotes God as telling His Son, “I will give You the sure mercies of David” (13:34). Paul explained the same thing (13:35-37).
We know that “the law of Moses” that Paul says cannot justify us (13:38,39) was the ten commandments, for James quotes a few of those commandments, and says if you break one, you’ve broken them all (James 2:10,11). And we’ve all broken more than one! But Christ didn’t, and He died a sacrificial death for us. Paul says if we “believe” that He died for us, we can be justified from all things from which we cannot be justified by trying to keep the ten commandments.
Finally, whatever hell you’re going through in life, you can learn to say, as David said in Psalm 16, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.” You just have to remember that God doesn’t intend to leave you in whatever hellish situation you are in, but will deliver you from it at the Rapture. If that doesn’t make you want to “bless the Lord” as David did, you need to study the Scriptures more to learn what a “goodly heritage” you have waiting for you in heaven!
A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: “Things Didn’t Go As Planned” Acts 13:26-39