Acts 2:46-47(NKJV) 46So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
This week we have been looking at the concept of favor as a force to benefit the people of God and help them build the Kingdom of God. We began by looking at the children of Israel during their deliverance from Egypt. The bible tells us that the Lord gave the Israelite women favor with the Egyptian women so that when they asked them for gold, silver and clothing, the Egyptian women simply gave them what they asked for. They did not do this because they were afraid of the Israelites. They did it because God had moved on them in such a way that they had deep goodwill towards Israel. God gave Israel favor with the Egyptian women.
I believe we need this same force at work for the church today. I also believe that it has always been part of what God has done for the church. In today’s scripture we see that the first church began with favor. The bible tells us they had favor with both God and man. The result was that the Lord added daily to the church those who were being saved. I believe we can and should expect the same in our day.
There is something we need to understand about the kind of favor I am talking about. It is not necessarily favor with leadership. In Egypt, the children of Israel did not have favor with the government or the Pharaoh. They had favor with the women who were approached by the Israelite women. The government was completely antagonistic toward Israel. We find that this is often the case when we are talking about God given favor.
We can see many examples of this in the bible. One of my favorite stories is the account of the prophet Elijah and his encounter with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. When we read the story, we see that Elijah had favor with the people. They listened to him and followed him. Yet he had no favor at all with the King and even less with Queen Jezebel. She made a vow to kill him.
In the life of David we see the people crying, “Saul killed his thousands and David his ten thousands.” The people loved and favored David. In the end, they would make him their king. Saul, who was king, hated David and sought to kill him. The favor of God was so strong in David’s life that Saul’s own son Jonathan loved David and made a blood covenant with him. He protected David at his and his father’s expense.
The point I am making is that we need to understand that God given favor does not always mean things will be easy. Usually it involves the disfavor of those who may be in charge. It is with people that God will give us favor. Sometimes it is with many people and sometimes it may be with one key person. Earlier in the week, I mentioned Rahab the harlot. The whole city of Jericho was at war with the Israelites, but God gave them favor with one woman who had a house in a key place. Because of her, the two Israelite spies were able to escape back to their lines with information that helped defeat Jericho.
We see this in an even greater measure in the New Testament. In the life of Jesus, we see that the political and especially the religious leaders were constantly coming against Jesus. They were always plotting and often attempting to kill him. At the same time, we read that multitudes followed him, were healed by him and taught by him. He had favor with people but strong opposition from established institutions.
A question might be asked about the crowd in Jerusalem who cried out “Crucify him, crucify him.”, when he was offered to them for release. Was not this the “people” who were opposing him? No, that was the crowd that was opposing him. There is a difference between a crowd and people in general. The established authorities controlled the crowd. In addition, a crowd has a different mentality than people individually. The multitudes that followed Jesus were people not just a crowd. Some were there simply for what they could get from him and some were there because they believed in him, but they were people joined together to follow him. God gave Jesus favor with these people.
In today’s verse, we see this pattern repeated with the church. The believers in Acts 2 were hiding in the upper room because the authorities had just crucified their leader. They were not a “favored” group in Jerusalem. However, once the Holy Spirit fell on them and empowered them the bible tells us that they had favor with both God and man. With what men did they have favor?
They did not have favor with the Jewish counsel because they were repeatedly arrested, beaten and threatened by them. They did not have favor with Rome since we know that they were ultimately persecuted by Rome. May suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Empire. With whom did they have favor? They had favor with the everyday people. They had favor with those to whom they preached. How do we know this? We know these were the people because God was adding them to the church on a daily basis.
I believe we need to realize that God wants to give us favor in 2013. I believe he wants to give us favor in our personal lives so that we can prosper. I believe that the Lord wants to give us the favor that the early church had so that people can be added to the church in great numbers. I also believe we need to understand that favor often accompanies persecution.
This is a bit of a strange thing to consider but it is the pattern we see throughout the bible. Why is it important for us to understand this? I believe if we do not realize that this is the scriptural pattern we may be deceived by what we see happening around us. We may see an increase in opposition by the governmental and religious authorities against biblical Christianity. We will certainly continue to see cultural rejection of biblical truth in favor of increasingly sinful activity. I do not believe righteousness is going to become the “in thing” in our society.
We could interpret this to mean that the church is in retreat or worse that God is not involved in helping us. The truth as highlighted by bible history is very different. The kinds of opposition we see today have always been accompanied by a wave of favor with common people. In times of great opposition, we see God giving favor with multitudes as in the ministry of Jesus and with key individuals as in the case of Rahab and the battle of Jericho.
I believe this is a day when we will see the same pattern released in the earth. In the early days of Christ’s church, we see that there was persecution and opposition from the established powers. At the same time, there was great favor with the people that resulted in a great revival. Throughout the New Testament, we read of those who gave favor to Jesus, the apostles, and especially to Paul. Given where we started this study, I find it interesting that we often read how wealthy women favored the people of God.
I am not saying we should believe for persecution or opposition from the government or religious establishment. On the contrary, I believe we should believe for favor there as well when we need it. I am saying that the historical pattern suggests that this will not often be what we see. I am saying that we must not be discouraged if we see the opposite of favor from those places. God will give us favor with whom and when we need it. God will give us favor so that we will “not go out empty handed” and so that we can “add to the church daily” those who are coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
I believe 2017 is to be a year of great favor to those who will trust God for it.