Often, a turn of events brings opportunities that we cannot see during the chaos. Nothing happens without the Lord allowing it. I recently received an email from an excited parent about the changes in America due to the “pandemic” who was responding to my mentioning that the Lord’s will for us had changed our lives during the last few months. They responded that this whole thing was Satanic, which I do not doubt that the enemy has his hand in all of this. However, I know that nothing can happen to us without the Lord’s approval, and He never does anything that is ultimately bad for us. In fact, all His thoughts towards us are “thoughts of peace” or are planned for our well-being and happiness (Jeremiah 29:11…this doesn’t mean that our life is easy or without trials. If life is without challenges, then life would be bland and we would never experience the joy and fulness of the Lord’s work in and through our life).
Paul was almost done with the seven-day purification ceremony along with the four other men when he was recognized by some Jews from Asia. It was almost Pentecost, and many visitors were in Jerusalem for the festivities. Some Jews from Asia (some scholars believe probably from Ephesus because of the reference to Trophimus, the Ephesian in verse 29) decided to take matters into their own hands and grabbed Paul yelling out that he had defiled the temple by bringing Greeks into the holy place. The Asian Jews had previously seen Paul with Trophimus in the city and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple, and the punishment for bringing in a non-Jew was death. A mob formed and they drug Paul out of the temple and immediately the doors of the temple were shut. As the angry mob was about to make an example of Paul to kill him, the commander of a thousand soldiers by the name of Claudius Lysias (his name is given in Acts 23:26) ordered soldiers and centurions to get control of the situation and grab Paul to bind him up in front of the people. This saved Paul from an even worse beating as the zealous mob was trying to kill him. When Claudius Lysias asked the people of Paul’s crime, the crowd became so enraged with yelling that the commander couldn’t understand their accusations and the soldiers had to lift him up to protect him from the enraged crowds who settled into yelling, “Away with him.”
As Paul was being led to the castle, he asked Claudius Lysias if he could speak to the people. The commander assumed that Paul was the “prophet” who was an Egyptian who attempted to attack Jerusalem with 4,000 men (the prophet’s name is unknown and the events are recorded by the ancient historian Josephus). Paul explained that he was a Jew from Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, which was a prominent city known for their education and excellent citizens. Then he humbly and respectfully asks Claudius Lysias if he could address the crowd (this is seen in the words “beseech” and “suffer” in the KJV.) The commander gives him permission to speak and the crowd becomes silent.
The Lord can change the likely outcome of events in just a moment. We do not see the huge picture. We cannot, we are just finite beings. However, we do have an amazing God that wants us to trust Him with all our heart, so He can work His good in our lives. We see in this situation that Paul is given what he truly desired, a chance to talk to the Jews about Jesus. It is so ironic that God uses an angry mob and a commander of the Roman army to give him this opportunity. God brings situations in your live that will surprise you. How do you respond? Do you submit to God and pray as you watch His hand work in and through you? Or do you try to fix it yourself, impatient for God to lead? Of course, there is always that “whatever will be, will be” attitude where a person just floats through the situation (those people are usually delusional, because even in their “floating” they are trying to control the situation.) Trust God! His will is for your own well-being and happiness!
Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives with her husband Colin in Morrison, CO. They have 4 children, Joshua, Amelia, Victoria, and Julia.
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