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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.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Acts 23:11-23 – Promises and Providence

Those who knew Paul well must have known that he lived an unusual life. The tribune must have begun to ask himself what kind of man his prisoner was because of the intensity of the opposition against him. Paul himself was strengthened for providence by the promises that God gave to him.

When we look at the promise mentioned in verse 11, we can see that it was delivered personally by the Lord. Exactly how this was done we are not told. Yet what we can see is that the Lord’s actions were an expression of love for his devoted servant. We may not experience such a particular means of expressing a divine promise, nevertheless the promises we have in the Bible are always expressions of love from God to us.

While the promise was personal, it was not very detailed, nor was it connected to an immediate fulfilment. Of course, Paul did not know when he would get to Rome or how he would get there. All he was told was that he would get there and when he did, he would bear witness to Jesus there. This particular detail about Rome would strengthen Paul as he went through other experiences before he reached there. In a similar way, the fulfilment of many of God’s promises to us are located at some stage in the future, but like Paul we have to use them as incentives to keep going in the present.

Paul often experienced the providence of God in a special way, and here he did so when his nephew became aware of the plot of the Jews to kill his uncle. This discovery enabled Paul to escape from this murderous scheme when the tribune sent him under guard to the protection of the governor Felix in Caesarea. We can see how this act in providence was in line with God’s promise to Paul that he would get to Rome. Paul would not have known at that time what the connection would be, yet he would see that God was protecting him. Sometimes we can see how divine providence is connected precisely to his promises, but even when we cannot we should believe that they are.

We might like to know more about Paul’s family and why his nephew was in Jerusalem at that time. No doubt, his family had their reasons, but from Luke’s point of view the nephew was there at that precise time in order to help his uncle fulfil his divinely ordained mission. Providence can involve many people, but they are always there at the right moment in order to do what is necessary by them in fulfilling God’s plan. So the tribune serving Rome and the nephew showing family affection shared the reality of being players in a far higher plan than they could have begun to imagine.

That is where we are at any give time if we are Christians. God’s providence is at work to bring to fruition his promises concerning us.

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