From a Biblical perspective, some are chosen, hand-picked by God to carry out a sequence of events and circumstances purposed by God. Does this really happen to normal people? ◊
Does God intervene in the affairs of man? Absolutely. Though beyond some people’s perspective, God has intervened in every human life throughout human history.
From the mere conception of one’s life in their own mother’s womb to their dying day pre known by their Creator, man is not random. We are created in the image of God and are so designated as special and at the top of all creation.
Are some more special than others?
From a Biblical perspective, some are chosen, hand-picked by God to carry out a sequence of events and circumstances purposed by God and appreciated by God-fearing believers who note observed and written history.
Think Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Saul, David, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Peter, John the Apostle, and Paul. There were all mortal men who were plucked by God and given a choice of obedience or non-response or even rebellion.
But we are all special. All of us now, post-Pentecost, actually have the same opportunity to respond to God’s call or nudge or voice, or really, the Word of God, which call us all to full surrender and obedience to a life devoted and subserviant to our Creater.
We all have a mission, if we only choose to accept it and step into it.
And so Paul, in ACTS 23, a man clearly chosen by God, gifted in status, credentials, skills, talents, and knowledge, is in a very difficult plight. He’s caught in Jerusalem among orthodox Jews who cannot handle this new message about Jesus. He is put into jail in ACTS 22 and now has a chance to speak in his own defense to the Sanhedren, the Jewish leadership team.
Paul Gets a Chance to Defend Himself Again
At the end of ACTS 22, Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin to speak after initially defending himself before the angry crowd. At the beginning of ACTS 23 Paul speaks and makes his case before the Jewish leaders. It does not start off well, but Paul shifts gears and plays off the dual factions in the court:
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’ ”
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:1-11)
The Plot to Kill Paul
Even so, 40 evil men who are contemporaries of Paul, plot to kill him. Based on nothing but religious and ideological disagreement, these men hate him with a passion:
The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot. They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.”
But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.
Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” So he took him to the commander.
The centurion said, “Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.” ( Acts 23:12-18)
Through circumstances and even non-aligned people, God prepares hearts, minds, and ways to achieve his purposes. Some will call this coincidence and circumstantial. I’ve learned that God is the architect of all things:
Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”
He wrote a letter as follows:
Claudius Lysias,To His Excellency, Governor Felix:
This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.
So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace. (Acts 23:23-35)
Paul is once again saved and protected from death. God is not through with this vessel yet.
And that’s how Paul looked at it too.
God’s Plan is Not Our Plan
Given Paul’s background and pedrigree, since his conversion on the road to Demascus his life did not make common sense. Yet God led, protected, and determined his path. God even used people who were not in his camp.
Why? We don’t know for sure. We do know now that he still had more of the New Testament to write.
Think about it. God still wants to accomplish things though obedient people. Why are we any different?
Are you willing to step into the fulness of a fully utilized life?
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” – Acts 23:11