The Church had just been established and confirmed by an undeniable
manifestation of divine power. Hundreds had been converted, and God showed
His great power by allowing the newly converted to speak in other tongues
and to prophesy.
many who were converted, there were two disciples by the name of Ananias and
Sapphira. They sold their possessions and brought some of the
proceeds to the apostles making all believe that they were giving all they
had. Peter decreed that, because they had been lying to the Holy Spirit they
were to die publicly. The result of their public death was that “great fear
came upon all the church, and upon all who heard these things” (Acts 5:11).
But what if God
had forgiven Ananias and Sapphira? What if He had shown mercy to them and
had not allowed the church to experience such a shocking and traumatic
event, immediately after having experienced unspeakable joy?
Before He rose to
Heaven, Jesus had asked his disciples to go to Jerusalem and promised them
that there they would have received a very special gift: the Holy Spirit
(Acts 1:8). Christ kept His promise and, on the day of Pentecost, “there
came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty win, and it all the house
where they were sitting. And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as
of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the
Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them
utterance” (Acts 2: 2-4).
was excitement and great bonding. Many sold their possessions and gave the
proceeds to the apostles, so that the needs of the brethren would be looked
after (Acts 4:34-35).
astonishing power must have totally awed the disciples. They were clearly
the chosen ones, and God was making it evident to all in Jerusalem with
undeniable signs. Feeling favored could have now led to a spiritually
superior and, perhaps, even a slack attitude. Some, probably, did not yet
understand that being chosen also meant carrying the great responsibility of
being God’s righteous representatives. They had not been chosen to simply
enjoy the spiritual benefits of their calling, but to shine on God’s behalf.
Sapphira rejected righteousness and adopted deceit. Because of this, God
decreed that they receive a most stern punishment: death. Their death was
also to be a warning to all that the new way was not to be taken lightly.
Thus, God allowed fear to fall upon the whole group. To make sure the
message would remain for all Christians to remember, the story was included
in the Holy Scriptures.
was an ideal opportunity to sober up the Church and to make them remain
conscious of the fact that, though God gives much, He demands much as well.
Consequently, God was going to watch the actions and attitudes of each and
every one of them. The message was to be loud and clear for all to hear and
not forget, that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living
God” (Hebrews 10:41).
The Church began
with great signs and wonders. The first Christians were the recipients of
great gifts and great accompanying joy. God saw fit to allow the death of
Ananias and Sapphira to sober up the Church and to remind the
newly-converted Christians that, though the great God gives great gifts, He
also demands total submission. That lesson is as valid today as it was in
IS GOD CRUEL?
Michael Caputo, 2013
All rights reserved. This
article may be quoted, but it may not be reproduced in full in any form.