Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Acts 9:19-31 - Saul’s First Steps as a Christian (2)

Saul had become an effective witness for Jesus in Damascus.  Eventually the opposition from the Jews to him became so strong that he was forced to leave. Escape by the normal routes was impossible, so an unusual method had to be adopted. I think it is worth noting that Saul did not interpret providence in a manner that avoided common sense. He could have deduced that God wanted him to stay in Damascus because all the gates were watched by his enemies. Yet he did not. Instead he escaped when a suitable moment arose.
Luke indicates here that Saul had converts from his preaching in the synagogues – it was his disciples that helped him escape by means of the lowering of the basket. No doubt it was a hard separation for them, but these new disciples were also learning an important detail, which is that Christians are not dependant on any man.
 Yet there are important lessons that young believers can learn, and no doubt Saul observed them as well. One lesson is that opposition is inevitable if we are serving the Lord and witnessing for him. This was the first of many such times in Saul’s life. We know that he was persecuted in many places because of his faith. It is a good sign when opposition comes because that means that the enemy is annoyed.
A second lesson is that we should not be surprised at how God sometimes deals with us in providence. Saul would have anticipated many possible ways of escape from the city, but I doubt if using a basket was one of them. Yet the Lord sometimes provides unusual things for his people. Saul would have remembered this aspect in after days. We should remember this when we find ourselves facing difficulty. The Lord knows how to preserve his people and provide a way of escape, be it from physical opposition or from more subtle forms of Satanic temptation.

Sometimes we can be surprised by opposition. Perhaps things are going well with one’s Christian witness. Then suddenly things change and everything seems to go wrong. The one deduction that we cannot make is that somehow God has lost control of events. Saul was in danger, but God knew about it.

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