Relevant Text: Acts 23:11
Full Text: Neh. 13; Acts 23

Obituaries | “The cause of death, of course, is always life,” writes Pete Hamill in his forward to The Obits: The New York Times Annual 2010. “We humans all die, a fact so unremarkable that in these tightly rendered portraits of the recently dead, the technical reason for death is almost always covered in a single sentence. What matters is the life, and how it was lived” [1].

Prophecy | Paul met a prophet named Agabus at the end of his last missionary journey. Agabus bound his own feet and hands with Paul’s belt and prophesied, “This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” [2]. In response, Paul’s co-travelers were distraught, but Paul told them, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” [3]. Indeed, when Paul arrived in Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders arrested him and conspired to kill him. But they failed. Several improbable events foiled their plan – Paul’s nephew overheard their plot, he had the courage to go to Paul’s Roman cell, Paul had the courage to tell his Roman guard, his Roman guard took his nephew’s intel seriously, the Tribune believed them and got “two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night” [4] to take Paul to safety.

Promise | What did the conspirators miss? They didn’t know that the Lord appeared to Paul in prison on the night before their ambush was supposed to take place and told him, Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome[5]. It was not time to write Paul’s obituary; God had plans for his life in Rome. Until he got there, Paul was untouchable. No plot can stand against the promises of God.

Prayer | Lord, When you said that Paul was going to Rome, that was that. Your will cannot be thwarted and your word does not return empty without accomplishing its purposes [6]. Therefore, although death is inevitable, we rejoice that Jesus conquered death in fulfillment of your promises. Thus, as we live today, root us in your sovereign ability to full all your promises. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Pete Hamill, Forward – The Obits: The New York Times Annual 2010 (11/1/11, Workman Publishing), p. xiii.  |  [2] Acts 21:11 ESV  |  [3] Acts 21:13 ESV  |  [4] Acts 23:23 ESV  |  [5] Acts 23:11 ESV  |  [6] See Job 42:2 and Isaiah 55:11.


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