Paul is still in custody. Felix left him there when he was succeeded by Festus. Now the Jews have another shot at convicting Paul. AND trying out their original ambush plan to kill him.
Paul has spent two years under Felix in prison. It was a fairly comfortable and relaxed prison but prison none the less. Felix called on Paul to speak with him many times during those two years but we are never told if he ever heard from the Jews again with their litany of charges.
Festus is now left to deal with Felix’s unfinished business; namely the prisoner Paul. The Jews see this as another opportunity to have their charges heard and to do away with Paul.
If you remember, Paul was taken to Felix in the first place because of a group of 40 Jews who took an oath to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. They planned to do so in an ambush as he was being brought to the council chambers to answer their charges. Now they are planning another ambush. I wonder if they had another group take an oath for this ambush. The original group, if they kept their word, would be dead by now. Two years without food or drink would see to that. Were they men of their word?
At the first opportunity the Jews laid their case out to Festus. They didn’t even wait until Paul was present to give their list of charges. I’m glad Festus wasn’t sucked into the Jews’ plans. He left Paul right where he was and told them that if they wanted a trial they would have to go where Paul was. He could have easily ordered it either way but he did it God’s way. I wonder what would have happened if Festus knew of the Jew’s plot to ambush Paul.
The Jews lobbed one charge after another at Paul as he stood before Festus but none of them stuck. They were all without merit. Paul defended himself well.
Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor but he couldn’t simply turn Paul over to them. He was a Roman citizen so he had the right to refuse the change of venue. Paul knew he would not have a fair hearing, or even survive the trip, if he were brought to Jerusalem.
Paul was being accused of breaking the Jewish law. This group, by that same law, should have received the punishment they were seeking for Paul. That was what the law required of those who falsified their testimony.
Paul was willing to accept any rightly deserved punishment, including death. But he was not willing to surrender to the plans of the Jews. He knew their motives. He also knew that God had told him that he would have to stand before Caesar. This was the perfect opportunity to get that ball rolling. Paul’s Roman citizenship was paving that way.
God is so good at playing the LOOOOONG game. Could Paul’s Roman citizenship at birth have been one piece that was orchestrated by God? Did Paul’s citizenship play into God’s choice to use him? I love seeing how His finger can be seen all through a life, even before that life was turned over to Him. But that should come as no surprise because we know how God uses even evil rulers for His purposes. I still love seeing God’s hand at work though. It is certainly easier to see in retrospect than it is in the future.
Father God, thank You for showing us You are always in control, even when we don’t see it. I wonder if Paul had any inkling of how he was going to get before Caesar the night You told him of his future. Did he wonder how You were going to arrange it? I’m certain he didn’t doubt Your words, but did he wonder?
I love seeing Your hand at work in my life too. It is amazing when I look back and see what You put in place even before I knew of the need that would require it. Seeing all You have done helps me hold onto the promises You have made for my future. Seeing Your faithfulness reminds me that You ARE faithful and gives me confidence/faith for all my tomorrows. Whether Paul did or not, I still wonder how You are going to accomplish what You have for me, but I NEVER wonder IF You will do _____. You said it, that seals it!