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Friday, December 30 2011

Introduction

God's plan cannot be hindered! Truth always prevails! How true! Having been working with the Lord and walking in Him for some time now, you and I know these to be true. We learnt some important lessons along these lines last week as Apostle Paul continues his defence against the barrage of false accusations levelled against him by the high chief and the chief men of Jews. The importance of knowledge was also re-iterated last week. We must know who we are and the basis for our faith and take our stand no matter what. Over two years have passed, and it looks (to the physical eyes) that Paul has been going around the same mountain and not making any progress. Paul will still stand to defend himself again before Governor Festus. What do you do when it seems you are not in any way near the end of the tunnel? This is what we will be looking at today.

 

THE ENEMY'S VENDATTA RENEWED - Vs 1-5

"Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take up his duties as governor, he went up to Jerusalem. The high priests and top leaders renewed their vendetta against Paul. They asked Festus if he wouldn't please do them a favor by sending Paul to Jerusalem to respond to their charges. A lie, of course?they had revived their old plot to set an ambush and kill him along the way.  Festus answered that Caesarea was the proper jurisdiction for Paul, and that he himself was going back there in a few days. "You're perfectly welcome," he said, "to go back with me then and accuse him of whatever you think he's done wrong.""

  • Paul must have heaved a sigh of relief at the news of the replacement of Governor Felix with Festus. Having waited for over 2 years hoping he will be vindicated and let go. Festus's firm rule began with efficiency and wisdom in that, just three days after setting foot in the province, he proceeded to his territory's true capital, Jerusalem, to meet the Jewish leaders.
  • The high priest and top leaders probably indicated that more than the Sanhedrin was involved.
  • The accusers renewed effort to assassinate Paul indicates the persistence and deceit associated with the enemy of our soul (the devil). The Jews would use treachery to be rid of Paul as they had with his Lord. We must anticipate all eventualities and be well prepared in advance against all odds in whatever we are going through.
  • Note also that Festus reply is a reasoned denial. He makes a decision simply for his own convenience, but again, God is providentially directing human affairs so that the might of Rome will continue to protect His messenger. All who obey God's call and commit themselves to fulfill his purposes can have the confidence that the same providence protects them until their mission is done.

 

SHREWD AS SNAKES, INNOCENT AS DOVES - Vs 6-12

"About eight or ten days later, Festus returned to Caesarea. The next morning he took his place in the courtroom and had Paul brought in. The minute he walked in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem were all over him, hurling the most extreme accusations, none of which they could prove. Then Paul took the stand and said simply, "I've done nothing wrong against the Jewish religion, or the Temple, or Caesar. Period."  Festus, though, wanted to get on the good side of the Jews and so said, "How would you like to go up to Jerusalem, and let me conduct your trial there?"  Paul answered, "I'm standing at this moment before Caesar's bar of justice, where I have a perfect right to stand. And I'm going to keep standing here. I've done nothing wrong to the Jews, and you know it as well as I do. If I've committed a crime and deserve death, name the day. I can face it. But if there's nothing to their accusations?and you know there isn't?nobody can force me to go along with their nonsense. We've fooled around here long enough. I appeal to Caesar." Festus huddled with his advisors briefly and then gave his verdict: "You've appealed to Caesar; you'll go to Caesar!""

·         Oh! Not again, Paul must have mustered at the sight of the accusers. God's plan for Paul to testify in Rome was in no doubt to him, but I am very positive he had not anticipated another trial with the accusers.

·         Paul was resolute in his defense. Note that at this time, his response was precise and brief. We (as Christians) must always be sure we suffer for the right reasons and that there is no case against us (1 Pet4:14-16)

·         With unsubstantiated charges and a solid defense from Paul, the next step should be acquittal. However, we see another miscarriage of justice in the making as Festus's next question (instead of acquitting Paul) is motivated by a desire to get on the good side of the Jews.

·         Paul displays his sound knowledge of scriptures in his response (Matt. 10:16). He displays shrewdness (astute or sharp in practical matters) and appealed instead to Caesar. This is in other words, taking proceedings out of the hands of this lower court and appealing directly for a trial before the imperial court, which was the right of every Roman citizen!

·         Paul's shrewdness allows him to overcome the governor's moral failings and the fatal results that they would likely produce. It also enables Paul to retain the initiative of the divine "must" that has ultimate control of his personal destiny

GOD'S GIVES A MEAN MAN AN OPPORTUNITY - Vs. 17-22

·         King Agrippa is the son of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12) who killed James and the great-grandson of Herod the great who sought to kill baby Jesus (Matthew 2). He was the last of the Herodian line.

·         Bernice is Agrippa's sister who is a year younger than he. At the death of her husband, she returned to live with her brother Agrippa and engaged in incestuous relationship with him. This is the man, whose opinion, Festus was seeking. Unlike Felix, Festus has no good knowledge of The Way.

·         I believe that King Agrippa and Bernice visit at this time was divinely orchestrated for his salvation. To hear a messenger with the word of God is the first step on the path to saving faith (Lk 8:8, 15, 18; Acts 4:4; 10:22). Agrippa and Festus at this point unwittingly appear to model two essential prerequisites for receiving the gospel: a teachable spirit and a desire to hear the message.

CRÈME DE LA CRÈME IN CAESAREA HEAR THE WORD OF GOD- Vs 23-27

"The next day everybody who was anybody in Caesarea found his way to the Great Hall, along with the top military brass. Agrippa and Bernice made a flourishing grand entrance and took their places. Festus then ordered Paul brought in. Festus said, "King Agrippa and distinguished guests take a good look at this man. A bunch of Jews petitioned me first in Jerusalem, and later here, to do away with him. They have been most vehement in demanding his execution. I looked into it and decided that he had committed no crime. He requested a trial before Caesar and I agreed to send him to Rome. But what am I going to write to my master, Caesar? All the charges made by the Jews were fabrications, and I've uncovered nothing else. "That's why I've brought him before this company, and especially you, King Agrippa: so we can come up with something in the nature of a charge that will hold water. For it seems to me silly to send a prisoner all that way for a trial and not be able to document what he did wrong."

·         Finally, Paul gets a great opportunity to preach the word to the prominent men of Caesarea just like Peter did and thousands were converted!

·         Festus also confirmed the innocence of Paul here and yet would not let him free - Because Paul must of necessity get to Rome which is God's ultimate goal for his life

CONCLUSION

It's been a very trying time for Paul indeed. We will all agree that he has stood the test of time indeed and fight the fight of faith. Paul has been unshaken and he models what our stand should be when facing trials or having to suffer for the sake of Christ. We must be able to hold our head high and say with all clear conscience that I have not done any wrong! I hold a clear conscience before God and Man!

 

Contributor: Leye Olayiwola

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:48 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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