We are with Paul on his final approach to Jerusalem. Everywhere he goes everyone is telling him the same thing; PLEASE DON’T GO!
Paul has had his face set towards Jerusalem for since the riot in Ephesus. It was a long and somewhat winding journey but it was always with Jerusalem as the final destination. Paul knew he was in for trouble when he got there but he went anyway. He didn’t know exactly what was going to happen once he got there. He was even prepared to die there. He would do whatever it was that the Lord had for him there.
On this leg of his journey we read about him being warned by several people. I am intrigued by Luke’s use of the phrase that “through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem” (verse 4). This wasn’t once but twice in our reading today. He was also warned in previous stops along this journey. My question is, if he was being led by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem why was the Spirit also telling him not to go through others? Was God testing his resolve? Was he preparing him for what lay ahead? The last warning comes with a physical demonstration. “Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Pauls’ belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles”’” (verses 10b-11).
Paul is not swayed from his conviction, even though he is touched by their efforts. He KNOWS where he is to go and is ready to do whatever he needs to do for the Lord Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less. His friends finally stop trying to persuade him after he tells them how it is hurting his heart. He is not a cold or unfeeling man. He is a man who has shed tears over the souls of those he ministers to. He was a man who personally ministered to the hurting. He was a man who gave freely of himself to anyone in need. He was a man after Jesus own heart.
Was he perfect like Jesus? No. Not even close. But once he turned his life over to Jesus he became an awesome tool for Him. Now he was ready to be used by the Master once again.
How was Paul so certain of what he was supposed to do? Other than being certain that my children were ready to be born while in labor and that Jesus loves me, I have never been certain of anything else. Is it because I don’t have to be? My walk with Him has never demanded the sacrifice Paul’s did. God hasn’t used me in the way He used Paul. I’ve had times when I look back and am certain God has done something amazing in my life but the things I believe He calls me to do in the future I’m always questioning if I’m hearing Him right.
I want to ask why I don’t have the kind of certainty that Paul had but I’m pretty sure I know the answer. Paul, after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road dedicated ALL of his time to doing God’s work. He fasted and prayed that first time for three days. I’m astounded if I don’t fall asleep when I try and pray for more than one hour! He dedicated his whole life to talking and walking with Jesus. Even when he was a tent maker he was still witnessing to those he came in contact with. He was available to the Holy Spirit 24/7. I seem to keep Him in a confined time frame in my day; during my bible study times. I do talk with God and sing praises to Him in other parts of my day but my focus is most generally divided.
Father God, I don’t want to be another Paul but I do want to be more in tune with what You have for me to do for You in my life. I honestly believe that You speak to me during our bible study time but is that all You have for me? Do I have a Jerusalem I’m supposed to set my face to? Did I live my Jerusalem already in the raising of my kids? If so, I don’t think I did the best job in that area.
Paul had many “setbacks” and obstacles in his journey but he faced them anyway and overcame (or endured) them. I’ve plowed through many obstacles on my journey also but too many of them were from my own making. Forgive me for throwing up roadblocks along the way. Forgive me for dragging my feet. Help me know with certainty where You would have me go and what You want me to do. Help me KNOW and accept my Jerusalem, no matter what it holds.