“But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.’”
Webster defines a trial as, “A test of faith through subjection to suffering or temptation.” Paul’s current situation may be the text book case of a trial. He came to Jerusalem with the goal of sharing Christ with his friends and countrymen, spent his time preparing to share with them, but before he ever spoke a word, he found himself under attack. After his unjust arrest, he had two opportunities to share the Gospel; both times he was cut short, as the people become enraged with him. To make matters worse, his Christian friends had warned him not to go to Jerusalem in the first place. They said he would be beaten, arrested and perhaps killed. Paul believed the trip was the Lord and ignored their warnings. Now, incarcerated and facing the threat of death, it would be natural to feel as though he had failed the Lord and his situation was hopeless.
I love the fact that while facing this great trial, the Lord spoke to Him. The voices surrounding him said he was a blasphemer and he was going to die, and perhaps a voice within, saying he had failed. However, one voice cried out louder than all the rest. It was the voice of Jesus, providing Paul with a promise that would carry him through all the trials of the next few years. Prison in Rome, the threat of death, a late night escape, forgotten in Caesarea, ship wrecked on an island, and being bitten by a poisonous viper, could not shatter the strength given from these few simple words uttered by Christ. No matter how bad things became, he was promised safe passage and opportunity in Rome.
The Word of God is like that. A timely promise from God is able to sustain us though whatever difficulties we are facing. I have had times that seemed hopeless, and all I had to sustain me was a simple truth from the Word of God. As time continued, I found that no force on earth could shake the foundation given by the promise of God. No matter what you are facing, get in the Word and allow Jesus to whisper His great and precious promises, and strengthen you from within.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
Questions in Acts 23
- Who made up the council that Paul was speaking too?
- Ananias commanded those who stood by to strike Paul. What was Paul’s response?
- Whitewashed walls-In those days, under the Law, a Jew could not touch a dead body. Over the countryside there were rock-hewn sepulchers. Through the years some became half hidden or buried. If a Jew touched any of these areas, they would have to go through purification rites before they could enter the temple because they were considered unclean. They had touched something that was touching a dead body, so to protect the people; the Jews would paint these tombs with whitewash so they would stand out. Read Matthew 23:27. Paul picked up on a term that Jesus used. What do we have in our life that looks good on the outside, but is full of dead bones on the inside? Is there something you need to confess it to the Lord? Let His blood cleanse you and make you new!
- The Lord gives Paul new direction and encouragement then the trouble begins. What happens to Paul next? How does the Lord get Paul to Rome?