Paul’s life had purpose and direction. He was reminded in every city he went to that chains were ahead of him (20:23). He knew that he would suffer even from the moment of his conversion (Acts 9:16) and yet he pressed on. There were even those along the way who tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem because of the chains that awaited him there (21:11-14). (Side Note: This reminds me of Psalm 11 that we just studied a few weeks ago on a Wednesday at Little Escambia and Matthew 16:21-23, when Peter thought that he was offering Jesus sound advice, but Jesus told him, “Get behind me Satan.“) Yet Paul pressed on.
Two things stick out to me here:
One is that Paul knew what he was called to do and he would not be deterred. Even when his friends pleaded with him not to go, he was more concerned with following God’s will than saving his own neck. We should strive to follow God that closely that we understand our purpose in life may culminate in losing our life.
[Theogical Note: The prophecy offered by Agabus (21:11) must have been restricted to the fact that Paul would be bound if he went to Jerusalem. The pleading of his friends (21:12) seems to be the misinterpretation by way of poor application of the prophecy that was offered. Otherwise they would be counseling him to go against God’s will! This is where New Testament Prophecy is different that O.T. Prophecy. There is some ambiguity, and just like a bible teacher may miss the meaning of a particular passage, individuals may miss the application of a particular N.T. prophecy. When someone says, “The Lord told me” and offer application rather than simple, specific revelation it may be an error. It is always important to exercise discernment. Sometimes people lie (I Kings 13:18) and sometimes people mean well, but get it wrong (21:12)]
The second thing is that those we love and respect the most don’t always offer the best advice. Sometimes they are more interested in our safety that God’s purpose being fulfilled in our lives. It is always better to follow the Lord’s will than those who are clouded by there care and concern for us.
For example: It would be easy as parents to want our kids to live close to us as they marry and move out. We would want to be close to our grand kids and help them. We might offer great advice about getting connected with jobs in our area, etc… but what if God call’s our children to minister in a different part of the country? Or what if he calls them to go to the other side of the world to be a missionary? We wouldn’t want to hold them back from God’s will. This is where discernment and prayer are necessary.
FATHER, We trust you. We trust you to lead us and guide us. We ask for your protection and provision for our brothers and sisters around the world who are facing persecution for their faith in you. We ask for grace to follow you no matter what lies ahead on the path before us. We ask for discernment to understand and do your will. Thank you for the grace to lead your people today. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.
What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.