FACING TOUGH QUESTIONS
Lord, my life is completely in Your hands.
Read ACTS 23:12–22
The Plot to Kill Paul
12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 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. 15 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.”
16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” 18 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.”
19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”
20 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. 21 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.”
22 The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
Luke is a superb storyteller. In this account, we are really drawn into the action as he vividly recounts the attempted assassination of Paul and how the plans are frustrated by Paul’s alert nephew.
But for all the details, however, there is a lot that Luke does not tell us. We are not told if the Jewish authorities acquiesced to the conspirators’ plan, or what happened to the men when it became clear that their plot was foiled. How did they extricate themselves from an oath which was binding until the action to which they had committed was completed? Additionally, although we are given some information about Paul’s family, some unknowns still abound. For example, were they followers of Jesus? What did Paul’s family think of his high-profile activities? Luke does not tell us, precisely because as interesting as those points might be to us, his focus is on how God is fulfilling his word that Paul would be his witness in Rome (11).
As readers, we know what God’s intentions are and why Paul escapes. We also know that for every Christian in the early church who was rescued, another was not (e.g., Acts 12, which recounts James’s death and Peter’s rescue). Sadly, that is still the case. The reasons why are frequently not revealed to us. We have to acknowledge that we do not always find God’s ways easy to accept or to understand. On occasion our faith gets stretched as we question what God is doing. Amazingly, God actually allows us to ask those hard questions and sometimes he graciously explains. Perhaps more frequently he asks us to trust him even when he does not explain himself. The question is: do we and will we?
Bring your hard questions to God and ask him to help you to trust him if he chooses not to explain.
Lord, give me insight as I try to understand the purpose behind events in my life.