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Acts 1:15-26 – Very different inheritances

During the ten day wait between the ascension of Jesus and Pentecost, Peter raises the issue of how the Twelve have become eleven due to Judas’ apostasy.

Jesus had specifically chosen twelve disciples because they were to become the beginning of the renewed people of God. Eleven will not do. Hence Matthias is chosen as Judas’ replacement. He meets the requirement of having been with the disciples from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up. This qualifies him to become part of the twelve.

We are told how Judas met his end. It was the fulfillment of Scripture. As his “reward/inheritance” Judas acquired a field and having hung himself at some stage his body fell and burst open with his bowels being poured out. The field of his inheritance being called “the Field of Blood”. A miserable end indeed for one who had been an apostle. A warning for us all that we be careful to walk in Jesus’ ways and not become unfaithful.

By contrast, Matthias is chosen by the Lord Jesus, to take Judas’ place among the Twelve thereby gaining a much better inheritance. Judas’ bowels were poured out, but Matthias will have the Spirit poured out on him.

What about the casting of lots? In this account the casting of lots is what allowed for Mathias to be chosen be Jesus rather than simply ‘voted in’. It was important that Matthias be chosen by the Lord as the others had been. Can we cast lots today to determine God’s will? Generally, no and is more likely to be us ‘testing’ God and therefore sinful.

It is interesting that there are two main occurrences of casting lots in the Old Testament. The first is in Numbers/Joshua where the casting of lots assigned inheritances among the twelve tribes. The second is in Chronicles where priests, singers, and musicians were assigned cultic duties by lot. These are two very significant moments in salvation history, as is the choosing of Matthias. Extraordinary moments are often not intended to be typical.

I think one can also note that the casting of lots for Matthias is inheritance language – in his case of inheriting a spiritual duty – and contrasts with Judas’ very unsatisfying inheritance.

We are told in Scripture that our inheritance is to be in heaven and in serving the Lord. Let’s make sure that it is so for we too have been chosen by the Lord Jesus – and the alternative is very terrible.