A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF ACTS – Acts 9:32-43; 1 Kings 17:9-24
QUOTE: “Joy is a Journey Experience. We have it, but every so often, we feel we suddenly need it.” By John Slythe
The Book of Acts is full of miraculous healings and the JOY that comes with them.
We read that Peter has been traveling around Israel for a time when we pick up the story. Perhaps he is on an evangelism tour spreading the GOOD NEWS from place to place.
We now join him in Chapter 9 in Lydda where he is visiting the saints of the city.
In the name of Jesus Christ, a man is healed that had been bed-ridden for 8 years. “GET UP AND GET YOUR MATT” (make your bed). [9:34]
When reading about these accounts of healing it leaves me wondering at times when it seems like God doesn’t do them as much today like we read in Acts. I know we’ve all heard about people like Bennie Han or Earnest Angley. People go them to receive a BLESSING, they want HEALING, HOLINESS and I hope that some are really touched by God through people like these. BUT if they are fakes…if they are in it for the money, then I can assure they have received their just reward in full. And I wonder what case they may face at the day of judgment if they are misrepresenting God…if they are fake teachers…then God is going to deal with them.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that God can and does HEAL people today.
I further believe that God can and will use anyone to move and encourage. But it is always God who does the healing!
The “healers” we know and read about today, pretty much let people come to them. They set up shop in a church or auditorium and advertise that they are in town.
Notice that Peter is visiting groups of new believers where he picks a man that we can guess was a beggar lying by the street and HEALS him there.
Peter goes to him–Peter sees and goes to his need.
Verse 34: And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [now] makes you whole. Get up and make your bed! And immediately [Aeneas] stood up. (Amplified Bible)
People see the change in Aeneas.
Perhaps it was a busy time of the day with lots of people in the streets. I could almost imagine the reaction of this man as he reacts; like a person on a TV Game Show like “The Price is Right.” The jumping and shouting because they have won the big prize.
So, the people who respond know what they have seen and BELIEVE!
Verse 35: All those who lived in Lydda and the plain of Sharon saw him and turned to the LORD. (NIV Bible)
A pretty simple transaction: HEAL a known cripple and people join the church.
A Lot of Questions May Arise, Like…
Wouldn’t that fill-up churches? Wouldn’t it make the whole FAITH thing so much easier? Why is it that God doesn’t seem to work that way? If He did pretty much everyone would BELIEVE, right?
If God worked like that what would be missing? Would there be any need for FAITH?
If the church grew because of ‘miraculous healings’ all the time then would there be any MYSTERY left?
Our Story Continues with Tabitha or If You Prefer, Dorcas (v. 36-37):
Our story continues with TABITHA or if you prefer, DORCAS (vs. 36).
TABITHA is Hebrew and DORCAS is Greek and it translates to us as “gazelle.” This is not said to be some sort of nickname meaning her parents gave her, a name that was full of promise and description. Maybe something to live up too.
She is a BELIEVER that has heard the GOOD NEWS from someone. Maybe Philip came through town.
Tabitha’s Character –
Evidently, she loved to sew and probably very good at it. She also seems to have had means to purchase the materials because the people she was making them for probably couldn’t afford it.
Tabitha becomes sick and dies! (v. 37)
THAT SOUNDS FAST! As sickness and death so often are.
Her body is then washed (prepared for burial) and placed in an upstairs room.
Some followers of Jesus (disciples) heard about Peter traveling nearby, perhaps spreading stories of miraculous HEALING.
I am left with many questions at this point in my reading that I don’t have all the answers:
Do you send messengers to Lydda when Tabitha is very sick or when she dies? Nine miles take a while to cross on foot so the men sent to get Peter would have to do 18 or more miles by the time they found Peter.
Now if she was DEAD when they left we’re talking about a pretty impressive MIRACLE and not a resuscitation.
PETER went with them (vs. 30).
The Amplified bible reads, “So Peter [immediately] rose and accompanied them…” He didn’t have to think about going or pray about the situation until he got an answer, he got up and went!
When he finally arrives he is taken upstairs to the room.
All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. I don’t think this was “show and tell” by the ladies. More than likely, they were wearing Dorcas’ workmanship, clothes she had painstakingly made.
Tabitha was being mourned and cried for by the widows, a strong indication that she too was a widow herself.
This lady was such a gift to the community. She was busy and generous. She made the lives around her better.
We don’t know what the circle of women said or asked Peter to do.
But, I know the kind of things we say today in similar circumstances:
- WHY her or him?
- She was the best cook, ever!
- She worked on all the committees.
- There are plenty of bad people in the world…why would a loving God take her?
SCRIPTURE TELLS US WHAT PETER DOES NEXT (Vs. 40):
[40 a.] “Peter sent them all out of the room and got down on his knees and prayed”
I asked myself several questions at this point of the story, like why didn’t Peter ask the widows to all hold hands and pray for a miracle? Or try to comfort the women by saying Tabitha is in a better place with Jesus with no more sickness. Why did he send Tabitha’s close friends out of the room?
The bible account here in Acts reminded me of a similar story in the OT; in a place called Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon:
And the word of the Lord came to Elijah to go to a widow who he found gathering sticks (1 Kings 17:9-10).
The First Miracle: The widow and her son were broke with an all but empty pantry except for a handful of meal and a little jar of oil. (Vs. 13-15)
VERSE 13-15: Elijah said to her, FEAR NOT…For thus says the Lord…She did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days.
VERSE 17: After these things…
There always seems to be an “after these things” moments in one’s life. The widow’s son became sick, and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. HE DIED!
 And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?
Elijah sees the lack of faith in the mother as he says to her “Give me your son. And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed…”
The Second Miracle…AND HE PRAYED! (Vss. 20-24)
AND THE RESULTS OF ELIJAH’S PRAYER, WORD, AND TOUCH…
 And the woman said to Elijah, “By this [“the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived”- vs. 22], I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
A Seed Is Planted In The Upper Room (Acts 9:40-43):
Back to our story in Acts 9, we don’t know if the gathered believers had accepted Dorcas’ DEATH, or if they actually asked for a MIRACLE. It also doesn’t look like Peter knows the woman lying there except through the witnessing of the ladies.
PETER sent them out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed.
I don’t believe Peter’s PRAYER was the kind of prayer we are most familiar with in a group setting or even in the privacy of our home. Maybe that’s why he sent them out of the room. I think it was the type of prayer that James refers to as “earnest”, “fervent” PRAYER (James 5:16,17). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary describes fervently–“to be hot, to boil”; to “strive,” laboring fervently.” James refers to “fervent” or “earnest” prayer as…
“The earnest (heartfelt, continued, fervent) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]” James 5:16 (AMP).
After Peter’s ‘fervent’ prayer, turning to the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up.
I don’t know about you, but if I am going through some stuff, whether spiritual or physical and in need of a MIRACLE, I want to choose people who I know are going pray for me fervently and has no hesitating, no doubting in their FAITH! (James 1:5-7).
And the SEED Grows…
Peter then called the believers and the widows back into the room where he presents Tabitha to them ALIVE. Not only did the Miracle get their attention and strengthen their faith, the SEED OF FAITH was spread throughout the area:
 And this became known throughout all Joppa, and many came to believe on the Lord [to adhere to and trust in and rely on Him as the Christ and as their Savior].
Tabitha’s resurrection BLESSED the people of the community because a gifted worker was given back to them that loved her and were benefited from her presence. More people became born-again believers because of the event.
MIRACLES ARE A WONDERFUL THING, BUT…
But Miracles are secondary to the message; the message about the greatest miracle of all, that the ultimate healing is the ETERNAL LIFE that Jesus offers us through faith in Him. The MESSAGE that Jesus died on the Cross and paid for our sins and that if we trust in what He did to save us we can be so free from both sin’s penalty and sin’s bondage.
At their best, MIRACLES draws a crowd to hear the MESSAGE or serves to demonstrate the AUTHORITY of the Message.
I truly believe that God didn’t stop doing Healing Miracles in the Book of Acts. We are living out our lives of Acts 29. The God of the Bible hasn’t changed, he still works Miracles–He works them for the same reasons he always has!
- TO INCREASE OUR FAITH.
- TO SHOW HIS COMPASSION and…
- TO DRAW THE LOST TO FAITH IN CHRIST.
CREDITS FOR THIS BLOG:
All Photos: Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.
Bible Translations: Amplified Bible (AMP) except where noted.
Commentary: Getting Results In Prayer– [Fervent Prayer]: https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/getting-results-in-prayer-iii/