Thursday, December 19, 2013

Three Men, Same Name

Stitched Panorama
There were three men named Ananias mentioned in the Bible. All three in the book of Acts, all religious men, each one so different from the others!

The first was a church member who lied, and died. It appears he wanted to be part of the church, but not really. A double minded man (see James 1:8 and 4:8)

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 5:1-2 KJV)

Perhaps he wanted other members to think highly of him, while not living what he said he believed. Peter was immediately aware of what happened, and that Ananias had sinned against God:

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. (Acts 5:4 KJV)

He did not get to keep that which he sat back:

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (Acts 5:5 KJV)

The third Ananias was high priest. Also not living what scripture had taught him to do:

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. (Acts 23:1-2 KJV)

Chapter 22 is a wonderful sermon. Paul gave his testimony of how he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. For the council to believe him meant believing in the Resurrection. Sadducees could not admit that as they did not believe there was anything after death and Pharisees could not admit they had a part in killing the Messiah.

The rest of chapter 23 makes a great conspiracy story, and would have ended in Paul’s death – with Ananias compliant – if not for a Roman soldier who wrote:

This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. Acts 23:27 KJV)

The story of the middle Ananias is different. A Christian living in Damascus, called of God, answering as so many others:

And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. (Acts 9:10 KJV)

Ready to serve his Lord – until he learned his calling:

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, (Acts 9:11 KJV)

Ananias had heard about Paul. He knew what havoc was being done to those who believed and served a risen savior. He feared what might happen to him if he went to see this man. He told God of his fears, and God responded:

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:15-16 KJV)

Which Ananias are we? The one who looked upon religion as something to show others but not to be lived? One who in anger does not listen to a man witnessing to God’s presence in his life? One who fears the outcome but trusts God’s plan enough to act and help a man understand God’s plan?

All of these men said they were God’s men. Which example will we be?

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