Sermon: The Hope of Israel Acts 28:17-31

The Hope of Israel

Acts 28:17-31

Introduction

Last time we noted what an accomplishment it was for Paul to arrive in the City of Rome. When I say accomplishment, I don’t mean that it was something great that Paul did because there was no way he could have ever arrived in Rome apart from the plan and power of God. We noted also how amazed Luke was that he records twice in just a couple of verses that they arrived in Rome.
What is so significant about Rome?
If you remember back when we began the Book of Acts, I said that Acts follows the Great Commission. What I mean is that the Book begin in Jerusalem then extends to Judea and then Samaria and then to the uttermost parts of the world. Rome represents the uttermost parts of the world.
Geographically, it of course is not the farthest place away from Jerusalem but what it is, is the farthest place from Jerusalem that had a significant population of Jews. We’ll see today, the Apostle’s last dialogue with his Jewish kinsmen in the Book of Acts.

Many theologians find it problematic that Luke ends the Book in a way that may seem abrupt but we must again remember the purpose of the Book. Luke’s goal is to trace the expanse of the Gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Since Rome represents that far away place then we can understand why it should end here in this city.

TT- Jesus Christ is the Hope of Israel.

Acts 28:17-31 (ESV)
17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case.
19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation.
20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”
21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you.
22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,
31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
1. Jesus is the Hope of Israel

17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case.
19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation.
20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”
21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you.
22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
We should note that the Apostle wastes no time in calling his kinsmen to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is no doubt in keeping with Paul’s consistent evangelistic strategy…
Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Next, Paul begins telling the facts behind his arrest and incarceration. His desire is not so much to clear his name but to show that many Jews have reacted poorly when shown the realities concerning the Old Testament and their traditions. They were set in their ways and refused to see the truth. By doing this, he is challenging these Jews in Rome assembled before him not to jump to conclusions before they consider the facts.

The reason he is in prison is not because he is a murderer, like those in Malts assumed nor was he guilty of any crime. So, his point in sharing his story is that he did not want the Jewish leadership to jump to wrong conclusions about his imprisonment nor about the Gospel. For them, both were hard prejudices to overcome.

I’m in prison, but I have done no wrong…
Jesus is the promised Messiah, even though it may not look like it.
This message is titled, The Hope of Israel, because that is what Paul declares to be the reason he is behind bars. What is the hope of Israel?
Better stated, Who is the Hope of Israel? To answer this question, we simply turn to the Book of Jeremiah and there in two places this title is used.
Jeremiah 14:8 (ESV)
8 O you hope of Israel, its savior in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?
In this verse, Israel likens God to a traveler or a stranger in the land. In other words, their access to God is fleeting, He will not listen or heal their land do to their sin.
Jeremiah 17:13 (ESV)
13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.
Again, it is easy to see Who Jeremiah is referring to when he uses the title LORD. God is the Hope of Israel, He is her Savior and/or her Judge.
Then Paul explains to us and to the Jews in whom they should hope. It is also clear in the context that his continual message is the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. So, he tells everyone present that day that they must believe and place their trust in Jesus the Messiah.

Acts 24:15 (ESV)
15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
Acts 26:6-8 (ESV)
6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers,
7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!
8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Once the Apostle explains the events surrounding his imprisonment, the Jews in Rome respond and tell him, they’ve not heard any of the bad reports he has brought up. They have, however, heard many bad reports about Christians.
22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
They desire to hear what Paul has to say. He is given an opportunity to explain the theology of Christianity and how Christ is the fulfillment of all the Jews had been waiting for.

  1. Jesus Reveals the Kingdom of God

23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
What Luke reports is that Paul expounded the Scriptures of the OT trying to persuade them that Jesus is the Messiah.
Paul and Luke connect the Kingdom of God and the Gospel very closely, almost to the point of being the same thing. Notice in other verses what is said concerning the Kingdom of God…
Acts 19:8-10 (ESV)
8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.
10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Acts 20:24-25 (ESV)
24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.

We can see the connection that is made between the two.
Likewise when John the Baptist and Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, they were calling people to repent and believe that Jesus is the One sent from God…the Messiah.
Upon hearing Paul’s message that the promised Messiah in the OT is Jesus Himself, he was met with opposition. Some understood and agreed and others disagreed with the Apostle’s interpretation of OT prophecy.
Notice, then what Paul announces:
The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
We must not overlook the fact that Paul attributes the writing of Isaiah as being of Holy Spirit origin. In other words, God authored what Isaiah wrote. The same can be said of all the Bible. Men wrote it but God is the originator or author of it.
Here is what God tells those who choose not to believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of OT and is the Hope of Israel, being her Messiah:

26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
These are words of judgment.
The Jews who rejected Paul’s OT interpretation and failed to believe that Jesus is the Messiah are, with these words, experiencing the judgment of God. Here, judgment is pronounced on the unbelievers.
Notice also what Paul does with this Isaiah passage. We remember this as coming from Isaiah 6…the prophet’s commission. God was sending Isaiah to pronounce judgment upon unrepentant Israel.
These Jews would have got the point. Just as Israel refused to hear and obey God so too these Jews in Rome refuse to hear and obey God.
We also should note that Jesus also applied the Isaiah 6 text to the Pharisees in His day.
Luke 8:9-10 (ESV)
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant,
10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’

In Jesus’ time, the Jews had seen miracle after miracle, and still did not believe. Here, in Paul’s case, he had taught them very completely from the Scriptures and still they did not believe.
Here is the result…
3. Jesus is Preached to the Gentiles
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
So, the Book of Acts ends with the Apostles words, Because you rejected the Hope of Israel, I will now take it to the Gentiles. He adds, that Gentiles will listen and the Hope of Israel will become the Hope of the Gentiles.
Here is an important point. God is longsuffering. He had time and time again offered salvation to Israel and time and time again they rejected the truth for a lie. God is now offering the Gospel to Gentiles and we must be extremely careful because we too can ignore the good news like Israel did. Do not assume that the Gospel will always be there for you to accept on your terms. When it is offered we must run to Christ and never harden our hearts to the message of the cross.
Romans 11:17-24 (ESV)
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,
18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Notice how Luke ends the Book…

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,
31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
The Book of Acts is not a biography on Paul. It is a report of the Gospel and how it advanced from Jerusalem to Judea, and to Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world. The message of the cross and of salvation has reached the Jews living in Rome, the uttermost part of the world. Paul was in prison but the Gospel was not…
In fact while Paul was in prison (literally, house arrest) he was free to receive visitors and to write. Because of his Roman imprisonment we are blessed to have:

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and 2 Timothy. God works in mysterious ways.
2 Timothy 4:18 (ESV)
18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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