Acts 23:12-22 Forty Hungry Jews
Paul is back in protective custody as we rejoin him. God spoke to him in this place and told him that he was not done testifying for Him. When day breaks though, another group of men hatch a different plan.
As soon as I started reading and saw the “oath” this group made I smiled. Their promise was to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Were these men the Asian Jews? They absolutely did NOT like Paul. If they were serious about their oath they would die of hunger and thirst! The group went so far as to make their oath known to the chief priests. Did it make their oath more binding or were there ways to get out of it because circumstances changed?
When presenting the plan to the chief priests, one would hope that those in authority wouldn’t go along with a murder plot. We aren’t specifically told that they “agreed” to this plan but Paul’s nephew makes it clear they did. Not surprising as they hatched a plot themselves to kill Jesus and any of His new followers. The counsel that is supposed to be the religious and moral compass of the Jews is instead a colluding band of murders. Sorry if that comes out a bit strong but that is how I read their actions.
I’m curious how Paul’s nephew came to overhear this plot. Paul’s father was a Pharisee so was his grandson training in that same field? If so, his allegiance wasn’t with them but with Paul instead. I’m also wondering how he got in to see Paul. Did he have to sneak into the barracks or did he simply ask to see Paul?
This young man didn’t seek out the soldiers to stop the plot. He didn’t take his information straight to the top. He went directly to his uncle. Paul had no control over his fate at this time. He had no freedom. He had no way to act on this news to protect himself. He had to trust, once again, that God would work it all out. He took the only steps he could; he told someone he needed help.
How long did it take for the tribune to hear the news from the young man? Was Paul kept abreast of the progress or process? Or did he have to sit quietly by and wait. I’m betting he was praying during the whole process, whichever way it went. We don’t even know if Paul’s nephew came back and reported what had happened to Paul.
Paul knew his life was in God’s hands and that God had told him He was not finished with him yet. This must have been GREAT comfort for Paul during the wait. He KNEW he could take God at His word.
Father God, thank You that ALL Your words are true. You never make a promise in Your word or even individually to one of Your children that You don’t carry out. I can stand as assured as Paul did that night in his cell that You have my life in Your hands. I haven’t received any future engagement promises like You made to Paul the night before but I have an eternal promise that I’m clinging to with my WHOLE heart. The promise of being with You in eternity. Nothing man can do to me, or to Paul for that matter, can stop that promise from being fulfilled.
Another promise that I cling to daily is that You will never leave or forsake me. So even in the darkest nights You are still by my side. Wherever the road may take me, You are always there. Even when I turn around and get myself in trouble through my sin, You don’t leave me. You stay right there waiting for me to turn back to You so we can continue on together. THANK YOU that I am NEVER alone.