We are reading the dramatic account of how the Apostle Paul loses his freedom. Those who possessed the Holy Spirit gift of prophecy in the places he visited were moved by the Spirit to say that if he went to Jerusalem he would be arrested and bound and imprisoned. This is particularly predicted in today’s reading of Acts 21. This made his audience very emotional in trying to persuade Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.
Paul’s response is to say, “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.” [v.13] Luke, the author of the book of Acts who was travelling with Paul at this time says, “since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, ‘Let the will of the Lord be done.’”
This illustrates for us that there can be times in our lives when we have to make a decision as to whether we will think in terms of ‘safety first’ – or it might be ‘comfort first’ in doing or not doing something. If we really believe in Jesus and his involvement in our lives and we are persuaded not to do something in serving him because it involves some risks as some aspects of a coming venture are potentially dangerous – we must make sure that the motives behind our decision are right in the sight of God.
This is especially the case if some valuable service is left undone as a result of our decision. Let us try to see the bigger picture, those who do will say, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” As we read more in Acts, let us look at the bigger picture of unfolding events in the life of Paul.
Hosea was distraught, as we also read today, because, as the chapter (5) starts, they did not heed his words from God, “Hear this, O priests! Pay attention …” The time was to come when “they shall go to seek the LORD but they shall not find him; he has withdrawn from them.” [v.6]. Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying, “now is the favourable time; behold now is the day of salvation … as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way by great endurance” [2 Cor. 6 v.2,4] What times of endurance face us? Let us face them in faith – What a great example Paul is! And, to some extent, there are modern day examples.