“Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him.” Acts 25:1-3 NKJV
Secret to being a successful Christian? Know God, and know the enemy. You will need to know the difference between their voices, their strategy, their promises, and everything else. We must also remember we battle NOT against flesh and blood – something Paul wrote and obviously understood. The high priest and chief men of the Jews are still under the influence of the enemy, believing they are diligently doing the Lord’s work – when we pick up in today’s reading. While we think about our relationship with God, ensuring we are on track.
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 25 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
Paul Appeals to Caesar
25 Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 Then the [a]high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him, 3 asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. 4 But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly. 5 “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.”
6 And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought. 7 When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, 8 while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?”
10 So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. 11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”
Paul Before Agrippa
13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. 14 When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, 15 about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. 16 To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man [b]to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ 17 Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I [c]supposed, 19 but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.”
22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.”
“Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”
23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great [d]pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him. 26 I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”
- Acts 25:2 NU chief priests
- Acts 25:16 NU omits to destruction, although it is implied
- Acts 25:18 suspected
- Acts 25:23 pageantry
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
The high priest and the chief men of the Jews just aren’t giving up! Paul is out of sight but not out of mind.
They do not know the voice of their God – because they aren’t spreading the gospel and pushing Paul to Rome with the gospel. Contrary, Paul knows what God said – he knows this will lead to his end, he knows he will arrive in Rome safely. These are promises we read that God made to Him. God is not a man or demon that he would lie.
We must be careful – Paul was deceived in following the wrong voice at first and we are no better. We must spend time with God listening for Him and getting to know the Bible. His voice is always confirmed with scripture and never contradicts scripture.
Let’s think of it this way. God is our Father, right? (For those of us with absent fathers, substitute mother or other parental figure you spoke with daily growing up.) If a stranger called you on the phone and said they were your father (or substitute parental figure) but it wasn’t their voice – you would know. Immediately. You would not even hesitate and doubt. We need to know God that way – if he is our Father (parental figure) we should be speaking with him daily as a child speaks daily with the parent(s) they live with.
Once we know God’s voice we will know His strategy – He is clear about His promise. He told Paul that he will make it to Rome. Paul has not heard otherwise and won’t, God doesn’t contradict.
As for the enemies’ strategy –
The enemies’ strategy is always to lie, steal, kill and destroy (John 8:44 and John 10:10) – so here we find these Jews with the same old strategy of an ambush along the road. That is it. That is really the entire strategy of the enemy.
Jesus said “Go ye therefore into all the world” and while we go the enemy tries to get us to believe a lie and go someplace else (like in today’s reading to go to Jerusalem instead of Rome) and / or the enemy lies in wait to kill, steal, and destroy. That is really all he has.
Now Fetus is a new ruler and wasn’t as interested in people pleasing as he was in NOT letting people tell him what to do. So he will go figure it out, he thinks and probably do them a favor while maintaining a sense of control.
So on his terms fetus set up the hearing.
Paul said: “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.” Verse 8
Fetus asks Paul if he will willingly go to Jerusalem to resolve this. Fetus knows they plan to kill Paul along the way, Fetus knows Paul is a Roman and not charged with a crime, Fetus knows the magnitude of this mess… but letting Paul die on the side of a road would make this all go away.
If Paul says yes, he will go, then Paul will die and this disappears.
If Paul says no then Fetus would just chain him up and make him go.
Paul in all wisdom had only one option – appeal to Caesar. Paul knew the voice of the Lord which said he must go to Rome. If Paul didn’t know, he might have been deceived into agreeing to go back to Jerusalem.
We must learn to be as wise as Paul. We must learn to stand against all odd for what God has told us.
There is an old joke about a man in a flood, standing on his house top. He is praying for God to supernaturally save him. An inflatable toy floats by and the man doesn’t grab it and swim to safety because God is going to save him. A raft with people comes by and tells the man to join them and the mane says – no, God is going to save me. The waters keep rising and a rescue helicopter comes and tries to rescue the man and he says no, God is coming for me. The man ends up in heaven shortly after and asks God why He did not save him and God said He send 3 things to rescue him.
Obviously, we do not want to be like that man. But that man did not have a promise from God about how his rescue would look. Paul was told he was going to Rome. Anything else is not God.
Let’s talk about Festus, who inherited this controversy and has a Roman citizen locked up and NOT charged for a few years. And to make this situation a little more awkward, King Agrippa stops by to make a social call. It’s like having a new job, learning something big is wrong and you inherited it – and at that worst possible moment, the boss pops in to say “HI, welcome!” You can’t help but feel a little bad for Festus. Festus confesses the mess that he has on his hands and lucky for him Agrippa isn’t mad about it – instead he is curious.
Tomorrow we will read about the hearing before Agrippa.
Meanwhile, we should spend time seeking God, his voice and wisdom. We are in this same life and death battle. It is real. And if we aren’t winning, then we are losing – because nothing stands still in the Spirit. Many times Christian want to play down the war part of our lives and not tell people to repent daily and stay humble. But we are running out of time for playing games. Either you are for God or against Him. You do not need to be perfect, you can stumble along as long as you repent and have your heart turned to God. Like King David. David made a lot of mistakes – but constantly repented, stayed humble and continued to serve the Lord.
Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!