We are continuing to follow Paul’s life as he returns to Jerusalem and is welcomed by the “brothers”. As was Paul’s custom, he heads to the center of spiritual activity, whether a synagogue or the temple in Jerusalem. That is where he has the opportunity to engage in conversation with those who would have the greatest influence if their hearts were open to the gospel and God’s truth. What he expected to happen did. “Jews from Asia, seeing him [Paul] in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him” and then accused him of “teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place” (Acts 21:27-28). Paul is not at all surprised.
If the false accusation and dragging Paul out of the temple were not enough, they began beating him, “seeking to kill him” (21:31). Does all this mistreatment stop or even dampen the passion of Paul’s heart? NOT FOR A MOMENT! After the tribune and soldiers step in to prevent the crowd from carrying out their plan, he sees an opportunity to speak to the crowd under the military protection. With his multi-national background and fluency in Greek and Hebrew, Paul tells the soldiers, “I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia…I beg you, permit me to speak to the people” (21:39). Up to this point it seems that God’s plan in using Paul to proclaim the gospel in Jerusalem was aborted. He is granted permission.
I have been guilty on so many occasions of making excuses for not taking a bold step in proclaiming Christ. I have taken little indicators as signals that I shouldn’t proclaim Jesus when in my heart I knew God’s prompting – I silenced my voice. Not Paul! “Paul, standing on the steps…addressed them in the Hebrew language” (21:40).
God is looking for a few who will take a stand for Him in the most difficult places. God opens doors, not us. Jesus told the church at Philadelphia, “the words of the Holy One, the true One, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” (Revelation 3:7).
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