THE BOOK OF ACTS – TRIAL BY FIRE

TRIAL BY FIRE                                                                                        

“That night the Master appeared to Paul. ‘It’s going to be alright. Everything is going to turn out for the best. You’ve been a good witness for me here in Jerusalem. Now you’re going to be my witness in Rome.'” Acts 23:11 (The Message).

How desperately Paul needed reassurance at that moment! Things looked pretty bad for him. He was not involved in any criminal activity and at least the Pharisee part of the Sanhedrin had given their verdict — in their row with the Sadducees — not guilty, but not in an official trial. He could not be released and even if he were, he was still in danger of being torn apart by the angry mob if he so much as stuck his nose out of doors.

Paul must have felt very alone in his circumstances, between a rock and a hard place and not knowing what would happen to him next. Things seemed to have gone horribly wrong. There seemed no way out and he must have been wondering whether God’s plan for him had been derailed.

Just when he needed it, the word came from the Master Himself. ‘It’s okay, Paul, everything is still on track. I’ll get you to Rome, just as I said I would.’ It’s just like Jesus to affirm Paul even in these sticky circumstances. He spoke words of encouragement and approval like a good father and Paul must have breathed easy again, knowing that, crazy as things seemed to be God was still there orchestrating the situation for His own purposes.

Paul was in custody in the barracks, and now the Roman captain was sitting with a problem on his hands — what to do with him. He had no authority to release him or to try him. It was the Jews’ fight. Somehow he had to get Paul a trial by the proper authorities.

“Next day the Jews worked up a plot against Paul. They took a solemn oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him. Over forty of them ritually bound themselves to this murder and presented themselves to the high priests and religious leaders. ‘We’ve bound ourselves by an oath to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. But we need your help. Send a request from the council to the captain to bring Paul back so that you can investigate the charges in more detail. We’ll do the rest. Before he gets anywhere near you, we’ll have killed him. You won’t be involved.'” Acts 23:12-15 (The Message).

Now what! Paul’s Jewish antagonists had hatched a seemingly fool proof plot to kill him. No one knew about it, so they thought, and now they had Paul in the bag! This reminds me of the words of an old hymn:

“Though the cause of evil prosper,

Yet ’tis truth alone is strong;

Though her portion be the scaffold,

And upon the throne be wrong;

Yet that scaffold sways the future,

And, behind the dim unknown,

Standeth God within the shadows,

Keeping watch above His own

(“Once to every man and nation” – James Russell Lowell)

The reassurance Jesus had given Paul was enough for him to know that, no matter what the current circumstances, God would turn it to His own advantage.

Categories: Bible Study Tags: , ,

Luella Campbell


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