UPPER ROOM MEETING
Acts of the Apostles 1:13-26
Throughout the history of the primitive church, the manifestation of Jesus in the lives of the apostles declared the power and the glory of experiencing the kingdom of God. Again and again, the signs and the wonders of the Spirit filled life were made apparent for all to see. This greatest story ever told is a powerful proclamation of the working of God in the human experience. It is the resurrected Christ living in and through His people.

The Acts of the Apostles, however, also contains the weakness and the shame of man attempting to experience life apart from the divine influence. This second treatise of Luke also proclaims the grimmest story ever told. It records the dismal destruction of Judas, one of the original apostles.

The saga of Judas, sadly, is a tale that is too often told in the Scripture. It is the story of Lucifer (Ezekiel 28:11-19), Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-19), and the Children of Israel (Deuteronomy 1:19-46). Paul warned the believers in Rome (Romans 1:18-32), in Corinth (1 Corinthians 10:1-10), and in Ephesus (Ephesians 4:17-19) of the deadly destruction that can befall all men as it did Judas. James, also, wrote of the certain death that comes when one fails to live by the divine influence of the soul (James 1:13-16).

Perhaps, the writer of Proverbs best described what actually happened to Judas as he ignorantly moved toward his own destruction. One of the proverbs (Proverb 7) tells the story of a young man being seduced by a woman. The Proverb narrative, however, is more than just the story of a young man being deceived. It is the saga of every individual who goes down the wrong road "and knoweth not that it [is] for his life" (7:23). It is also the story of Judas who never understood that his actions would eventually cost him his life.

The writer of the Proverbs reveals the process that moved Judas from being ". . . numbered with [the apostles]" (Acts of the Apostles 1:17) to being numbered among the outcast. He wrote,

Say unto wisdom, thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding. Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: Let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman of the house is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. (7:4-27)

It was not choice nor chance that cause the young man, or Judas, to travel the downward path of destruction. Although they both desired, as all men do, to experience the glory of the heavenly life, they soon found themselves on the road to the hell of the earthly life.

The writer of Proverbs described how the deception occurs that begins the deadly road of destruction. He wrote,

Say unto wisdom, thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words. For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding. (7:4-7)

The "young man void of understanding" is about to be deceived into thinking that the "strange woman . . . the stranger which flattereth with her words" can give him life.

The choice of words the writer used in telling the story illustrates the vanity of those who will be deceived. The word strange in the phrase the strange woman means "to turn aside (especially for lodging.)" The temptation will begin with the enticement to change residence. As it was said of Judas, "from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place" (Acts of the Apostles 1:25). The deceived always get moved out of something into something else.

Instead of residing in wisdom and understanding that would have kept the young man from the "stranger which flattereth with her words," he is about to be moved to the "fair speech" (7:21) of the flattering women. The young man eventually will find himself moved to the "chambers of death" (7:27), as was Judas.

The word stranger in the phrase the stranger which flattereth with her words is the normal word for strange. It implies that the young man is about to hear things that are strange to him. Things that he would not have heard if wisdom and understanding had been allowed to hedge him about, to guard him (the literal meaning of the word keep in verse five, "keep thee from the strange woman").

However, the smooth words (flattereth) of the stranger was what he wanted to hear, since wisdom and understanding was not the essence of his thinking. If Judas, also, could have heard Jesus, heard Him with his heart "as the Lord Jesus went in and out among the apostles" (Acts of the Apostles 1:21), he would not have yielded to the words of iniquity (Acts of the Apostles 1:18) that brought him to his death. It is only when wisdom and understanding, the divine influence, is removed that deception can occur.

In addition, the writer of Proverbs stated that the young man was void of understanding. He was lacking (void) in the essence of what it took to not be tempted by the strange woman. For the temptation of the strange woman does not occur until he "passing through the street near her corner . . . went the way to her house" (7:6). If the young man had not been void of understanding, he never would have gone down her road. If Judas could have stayed under the divine influence, he would have never found himself in the habitation of desolation (Acts of the Apostles 1:20).

The use of the word understanding illustrates this truth. The original word translated understanding actually means "heart." The youth was void of heart. When the heart is right, there can be no temptation to commit acts of sin.

This does not mean that the right-heart cannot be tempted. However, it is never tempted to commit acts of sin. It will be tempted to commit an act of righteousness from within its own power before any temptations to commit acts of sin can occur. The heart of man will try to produce life from within its own self, which is self-righteousness, before any overt acts of sin will occur. Once self-righteousness has been committed, however, the door is open and the path to destruction will be taken. Believing that he could live of his own understanding, the young man moved away from wisdom and understanding.

Likewise, the failure of Judas was not the guiding of the mob to Jesus or the kiss of betrayal. They were the product of a wrong street already taken. By using the reward of iniquity to purchase a field, the implication is that Judas followed Jesus from the beginning only for what he thought would be for his personal gain.

Judas, as with all who has ever failed, did not understand the mystery of experiencing life, the mystery of the life of dying. Conversely, he never understood the mystery of the death of living. In attempting to try to produce life in himself by using Jesus, Judas opened himself to death by his own attempt to live.

For example, the writer of Proverbs in his story called the young man a simple one. With simple meaning ("silly, i.e. seducible," coming from a root word meaning "to open"), the young man in his ignorance opened himself to the deception of the woman because he had turned from the divine influence. He was void of understanding.

The young man did not let wisdom and understanding keep him from the strange woman. Likewise, once Judas fail to the scheming of his own mind to enhance himself, he, too, became void of understanding. When understanding is lacking, deception will always follow.

The road to hell begins with such innocent steps that the individual "knoweth not that it is for his life" (7:23). The simple young man just went down the wrong road. The simple beginning, however, soon turned into a catastrophic end.

The experiences of the downward road kept getting progressively more destructive. They eventually led the young man to hell. They brought him to the chambers of death.

The young man (as with Judas), who had been deceived into taking the wrong road, soon found himself doing that which normally he would not have done:

Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner. (7:7-11)

Little did the young man know, as he started down the street, what exactly was waiting for him at every corner of the street.

Once started down the road, he was soon to be met by "a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart." Once in the street, the young man was not going to escape the woman: "She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner." Once in the street, he could not be kept from the "strange woman" and her consequences.

Once the downward way had begun, the entangling web of the temptation tightened its hold upon the young man. He had not only started down the strange women’s street, he would soon be trapped by her:

So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: Let us solace ourselves with loves. For the goodman of the house is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed. (7:13-20)

After kissing him, she proceeded to tell him what she could do for him, the perceived advantages of walking this road. As with Judas, the thirty pieces of silver would bring him the prestige and the power of owning his own piece land (Acts of the Apostles 1:18), he believed that this was the path to his enhancement.

The second step of the downward road had been taken. He had not only gone down the wrong street, now he was giving the woman permission to persuade him. Her flattering words soon caused him to attempt to fine life in the dream world created in his mind, as he listened to her fantasies. The chambers of death wrapped their tentacles ever tighter around him.

The young man became snared in her trap because he gave the strange women the privilege to dialogue with him. The more he listened to her flattering words the more she would eventually control him. He soon became trapped in the fantasies of his mind, which were generated by the enticing words of the "strange woman."

The young man has been caught in the deadly trap and he still did not know it:

With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life. (7:21-23)

At this point of the temptation, he does not have the power to resist. She "caused him to yield . . . she forced him." He had surrendered his life into her power. She forced him and straightway he went to his destruction.

Little did he realize at the beginning of his journey down her street that it would cost him his life. He now had no control over the "happenings" of his life. He had become a slave to his passion.

Being at the point of no return, the end of the downward road, death and hell, would follow:

Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death. (7:24-27)

The experiences of Judas also brought him to his end. It was an end that Peter understood to be predicted by David: "For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate [Psalms 69:25], and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take" (Acts of the Apostles 1:20). Once numbered among those whom "the Lord Jesus went in and out" (Acts of the Apostles 1:20), the life of Judas ended in degradation and shame.

Using the money he received for his betrayal, he bought a plot of land. Little did Judas realize that the land would become a memorial to his dismal deed. For it would be on this land that Judas choking to death (Matthew 27:5), perhaps from grief and horror, "falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out" (Acts of the Apostles 1:18). His land would become known as "the field of blood" and no man would dwell therein (Acts of the Apostles 1:19,20). The life and death of Judas became "known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem" (Acts of the Apostles 1:19).

The contrast of the lives of Jesus and Judas is both remarkable and revealing. Jesus was seen "alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). Judas was found dead after his "passion." His death spoke of the things that pertain to the kingdom of man.

The tale of these two men reveals the possibilities that face all men in their journey of life. They can experience the power of the kingdom of God. Or, they can experience the weakness of the kingdom of man. They can encounter the glory of the life of God, or the shame of life apart from the divine influence. The possibility of heaven or hell is always set before man.

As it was stated in the story of the young man in Proverbs 7, the path to death and hell can be averted. The divine influence of wisdom and understanding can keep every man "from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words" (Proverbs 7:5). Being moved away from the divine influence, however, death and hell will always follow.

All men must come to know the reality of the resurrected Christ. Thus, Peter stood up in the midst of those gathered in the upper room to select another to replace Judas. The group needed to choose one "to be a witness with us of his resurrection" (Acts of the Apostles 1:22). The world must know that Jesus was not dead, but alive.

The historian recorded, "the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles" (Acts of the Apostles 1:26). The remaining chapters of the Acts of the Apostles reveal that Jesus was alive. He continually manifested Himself in and through the twelve apostles.

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