Surprised By God
Take a moment to look back on some of the ways that God has worked in your life. Then thank him.
Read Acts 23:12-35
 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.”  The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”  He said: “Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him.  Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”  The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”  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: Greetings.  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. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow was Paul protected from the plot to kill him?
God often works in ways and through people that we might not expect. He works through a Roman commander, Lysias, who is quite happy to alter the facts to present himself in a good light. He works through Paul’s nephew, a young man, possibly in his twenties, who had no status and who took a considerable risk. God’s ways of working are unlimited. How ready are we to be surprised by God? How willing to accept that he may use some unlikely people? The fact that the Jewish leaders were prepared to go on a hunger strike until Paul was dead shows their intense hatred. All Christians experience some opposition, ranging from ridicule and misunderstanding to the sort of outright attack that Paul faced. This is because we are in a spiritual battle against forces of evil that constantly oppose the work of God in many ways. At this stage Paul is kept safe; later he will die for his faith. God’s purpose is that Paul will go to Rome and God’s purpose is guaranteed. His ultimate victory is sure. Whatever our situation, we can trust that God is in control and that we need not fear the powers of evil.
What struggles do you face? Where does opposition come from? Bring it to God, asking him to give you his strength.
Lord, I thank You that You are in control of all things and will certainly accomplish Your purposes.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.