Paul has another audience today. He stands before King Agrippa now. Festus is ready to honor Paul’s request to stand before Caesar but what charges should he put down? He asks King Agrippa for his opinion.
Paul’s is a complicated case. When the Jews approached Festus in Jerusalem they set out charges against him and wanted him delivered to them for judgement. After being refused, they tried to charge him again in Caesarea. But even those charges weren’t worthy of what they were asking; death for Paul.
Festus is at a loss as to what he should do. Paul has made an appeal to Caesar because the Jews refuse to drop the matter. It has been more than two years since Paul was put in chains and there is still no clear path for his captors. Festus is hoping King Agrippa will advise him on how to proceed. “It seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him” (verse 27).
I find it interesting that such fanfare was put in place for this meeting with Paul. There was a great audience present to hear Paul’s defense. God set the stage for Paul to have a great impact on this province.
Festus had already made his ruling in his mind concerning Paul’s guilt or innocence. He was not ready to simply turn him lose against the Jews’ wishes but he KNEW he didn’t deserve a death sentence. Would that Pilot had been so bold. But then, Jesus wasn’t a Roman citizen and couldn’t appeal to Caesar. More to the point though is that was not part of God’s plan where this lengthy appeal was.
NOTHING can be done to derail God’s plans. Not the Jews seeking a death sentence, nor the authorities not knowing how to handle the situation. God directs the paths of His people. He uses the just and the unjust to do so. We have already seen His hand at work in this scenario. Now we get to watch as He moves Paul one step closer to the place He called him to go.
I wish everything was as clear for me as to where I am to go and what I am to do. I wonder if Paul felt like he was “winging it” at times. Did he KNOW each step of the path he was to take or did God reveal it to him one step at a time?
In order for God to reveal the next step he, and we, have to be willing to take the one right in front of us first. God is patient as He waits for us to take that step but He also encourages us with a little “prodding” from behind. He has a way of making us uncomfortable where we are until we realize that it would be easier to step out than to remain where we are. He gives us “incentives” to move on. And once we do make the first step, and recognize His faithfulness in it, we are more willing to take the next one on His path.
I wonder if appealing to Caesar was Paul’s “giant” step of faith. He took the step of sending his nephew for help and reaped the “benefit” of relaxed confinement and an audience with Felix on multiple occasions but it’s not safe to remain in Caesarea any more. Festus isn’t willing to leave it status quo and Paul is NOT safe going backwards. How appropriate that God brought someone else along to hear Paul’s appeal. We will look at that appeal tomorrow.
Father God, thank You that You do have a plan for my life. I certainly don’t see all of it. I seldom see beyond today and maybe tomorrow. Thank You that I can trust You with my tomorrows! That assurance is all that keeps me going sometimes. Thank You also that You “help” me take the next step instead of letting me stagnate. I don’t enjoy the thorns in my nest but I do appreciate them after I move on with You. Keep showing me the path YOU have prepared. Help me walk in it always. Bring me back when I go off on a tangent.