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September 24, 2020 8:00 am
Not many of us inspire enough hatred and other people to become the target of an assassination plot. The apostle Paul was one who did in Jerusalem. 40 men vowed not to eat or drink until they killed him. Keep listening as Dr. James Boyce talks about the plot what it meant for Paul's life and what it means for us even if we don't see people plotting against us. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Paul's time in Jerusalem was nothing if not dramatic and X 23.
The drama continues with the murder plot.
The surprise intervention of Paul's nephew in a 35 mile trip into the dark of night to flee the city. Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce some years ago I heard a sermon on Christian marriage in which the minister began by saying this sermon is for everybody who is married and for those who hope to be about when I heard it. That included just about everybody and so was a good attention getter and yet it's possible that there are people who don't hope to be married and what I want to begin by saying tonight is that this sermon is for even those people about hardships and what I want to say is that it is for those who are going through hardships or for those who will be going through them you may think that that time, especially if things are going well for you that there are not going to be any difficulties in your life.
But there are going to bay if you cannot have them already. The book of Job, says man.
I think that includes women as well is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
It's a way of saying that it is just a fact of life that we have hardships. As Christians, even as non-Christians and what were going to say is how the apostle Paul went through such times and how God undertook for him. I've already seen me come now, Max. 23. We've already seen how Paul has begun to enter in to these dark days are days of imprisonment, days of restriction on his movements as an ambassador for Christ and even days of suffering Stroh that when he was free and going about from city to city that they often experience uncomfortable circumstances and did suffer. He certainly was unpopular. He was the victim of mob action on more than one occasion he was beaten stone. Later he's going to be shipwrecked and other such things, but we might say during those days at least. He had his freedom bow he enters in the days when he does not have his freedom. How long imprisonment at in the chapter that were going to study we find him taken from the city of Jerusalem, which he had gone where he had been arrested to Caesarea, where as we learn later in the story.
He spent too long years make the matter even more serious. We observe if we read this section carefully. The name of God the name of Jesus is not mentioned once God does not speak up all he has no special revelation, no direct word of comfort during the incident and events that are recorded in this chapter Harry Ironside, in his study of the book of acts when he gets to this point that out makes this great point of introduction to what he wants to say because he says send we know that by experience that there are times in our lives when not only are things dark but God doesn't seem to be speaking to us.
Ironside says God is never closer than when we can't see his face. That is true but nevertheless there are those times when we can't see his face when it seems that we are just plodding along in this weary path from day to day and we were somehow we could break out of it and God is an answer even when we pray, God doesn't seem to intervene out there was something like this in the case of Paul is true, however, that in the verse that immediately precedes the section God had spoken to him were told there in verse 11 of the chapter that that night that is before these long days and years of discouragement that the Lord stood near Paul and said to him, take courageous you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome reminds me when we think of it that great Paul of the Old Testament, Abraham, the father of the faith and know that appearance of God to hamlets recorded in the beginning of the 15th chapter of Genesis, Abraham was in a similar situation, his nephew Lot had been attacked in his city of Sodom by a coalition of cadence from the state carried him off Abraham and retaliated by pursuing them falling upon them suddenly by night recapturing his nephew, his family, all those who had been taken in all the goods. It was a military stroke of genius, as we would sign. Nevertheless, Abraham was vulnerable.
He had only a small force's success was due to surprise, and he certainly was in danger of retaliation. In addition to that he had met with Melchizedek on the way back and return the Melchizedek attempts of all he had received and then you disperse the spoils to those who had gone with them.
Keep in nothing for himself. Must've been a grim time for dark days as we would say similar these dark days that were now being entered into by the apostle Paul, but it was on medication, but the Lord appeared to him and said you're not Abraham I am my shield and not exceeding great reward. I we know there were many days after that that God didn't speak to Abraham so far as we know here we have days that the apostle Paul is entering into the wearer so far as we know God did not speak to him again in a special way. And yet those words that are there at the beginning. Fear not Abraham. I am my shield and my exceeding great reward, take courage, Paul, as you will testified about me in Jerusalem, so you will bear witness in Rome. Those words were meant to stay with these men and strengthen them to live and trust God even in the dark times. I'm sure by now you have the drift of where I'm heading those words are spoken to you and if you are going through dark times as many more. Or if you are anticipating them or when you do your nevertheless, to live by these things and trust in God. The circumstances of the story are straightforward.
Paul had been almost lynched by the Jerusalem mob and yet had to escape from their hands because of the intervention of the Romans was the Romans job to keep peace in Jerusalem, especially in volatile times like this and they were doing a very good job. Paul was taken into their custody, and it would seem to all in Jerusalem that in the hands of the Romans with their large military force. He was certainly very safe. There were men in the city zealots as they were called hole were determined that the apostle Paul should not escape their hands.
These men got together about 40 of them. I took a solemn oath to this effect, they would not eat or drink until he had killed Paul and then they went to the Sanhedrin, the rulers of the people they said what they had done and they made a suggestion.
They said why don't you contact the Romans the Romans will listen to you and you say you want to interrogate Paul investigate this a bit further asked that the Romans bring Paul once more to the Sanhedrin to the court and while they're doing that we 40 taken the oath will fall upon the company of soldiers won't be real large and where willing to risk our lives in the attempt will scatter the soldiers and will kill Paul and so the Sanhedrin agreed on. The zealots were an interesting party there in the Jerusalem of that day.
They were the ancient equivalent of what we call terrorists. They proceeded in exactly the same way in secret. Apart from the law and they were quite willing to do anything that was necessary particularly assassinate people to accomplish their political objectives. Here we find them setting about to kill Paul and on other occasions. Not only did they set about to do it, but they accomplish that in trying to advance their goals switch for an essence of sovereignty over the Jewish state. Without the Romans we know something about them. It has been suggested that Judas who was a member of Christ band of disciples was in his earlier days. One of the zealots because his last name Iscariot very well may be a reference to this body using a name that was used for them. That meant assassin balance questionable. That word could also be a place name and it may simply mean that Judas was from a place that had a name like that. And yet it seems more likely that in his early days, it is before he met with Christ. He was something of a solid. It might explain.
By the way his later betrayal of Christ. Because if in his early discipleship. He was thinking of Jesus as being the Messiah who would accomplish his political goals and if along the way he discovered that this is not what Jesus Christ intended to do than he might well have been disaffected and betrayed him. At any rate, that would be the kind of character. These people had someone is raised the question whether these zealots of the day could actually have operated in collusion with the Sanhedrin as they seem to about in the story because they were very supportive of the Sanhedrin. Matter fact there were times in Jewish history where they were quite opposed to ruling forces because after all, the Sanhedrin was cooperating with the Romans and their objective was to drive the Romans out Ananias the high priests exemplified this spirit of cooperation and at the time of the rebellion.
Here's later when the zealots actually managed to take over the city and the. When the Romans were gone. They had Ananias murdered because they were so opposed to the Sanhedrin's policy people is that well could men like this lease. Terrorists of the day have cooperated even for such a limited objective with those who were their actual enemies. The answer is yes, of course, they could've just as terrorists cooperate with various governments of the world today that terrorists are a threat to the government's as well as to those without that they opposed but there's a certain amicable tension simply because in some ways the terrorists are useful to governments so they shield them and allow them to operate under the blanket of their own political authority of any rate, what we had here in Jerusalem is exactly what we have in our own time and that is how it operates.
Now these were Paul's enemies. These men were setting out to kill him. We can't say of course that we have anything like that in our own experience, I would be very surprised if anybody had a band of people united against them in precisely that way today but it's certainly worthwhile reminding ourselves that although we may not have a band of 40 zealots are terrorists opposed to us, we nevertheless have a far greater enemy of the matter and that is Satan who the Bible says like a roaring lion goes about seeking whom he may devour these all the more dangerous because C is a spiritual being and because we can't see him. Moreover, invite me pointed out. Although Satan is for himself and not even for the world of unbelievers wants to use the world but is not going to serve the world.
He nevertheless has a certain comical kind of tension with the world so that he uses it in the world uses salmon. Those two were allied against us in much the same way that these terrorists were allied along with the Sanhedrin against the apostle Paul. Matter of fact, it is even worse in our case because Satan in the world have a certain beachhead in us which has always been spoken of in Christian theology is the inclination of the flesh is why temptation is said to come to us from these three sources the world the flesh and the devil. Together, they are a formidable opposition of the Christian life and yet you see in the story God protected and cared for Paul and in the same way he protects and cares for us. We did.
It is interesting we read here in the story that Paul had a nephew, the son of his sister living in Jerusalem.
It's interesting that should be mentioned up to this point in the story and in all we read from the pen of Paul himself. We have no information whatsoever of Paul's family. All we know is that Paul received his Roman citizenship from his father was a Roman citizen before him and that's all we know now there are places in Paul's writings where we might read into it some kind of experience that he had with his family. They were Jewish holiday react to his conversion to Christianity, particularly when he been so prominent as we would say I had invested so much of his education had sent this boy to the best universities given the best religious training. He was a distinguished rabbi. He was on his way up among the people that suddenly goes over to the other side holiday react. We might suppose.
Even if we didn't know it that they simply disinherited them may be that Paul refers to that in one place in his writings where he said I count all things but loss for the sake of knowing Christ, my Lord. Generally I take a nap as a spiritual loss. He gave over any claims for himself before God. But it may be that it also includes this loss of inheritance possessions and perhaps even the fact that his family no longer even acknowledged him as a relative. We certainly don't find references to them anywhere.
Before this suddenly here in the midst of the story. There's this boy was nephew and not only is there this young boy present in Jerusalem, perhaps having been sent by the family to Jerusalem to study the same way Paul had only is he there but somehow he is present to the things that are going on in the Sanhedrin slowly over. Here's what these zealots are plotting and what the Sanhedrin wants to do. It may indicate. Incidentally, though this is certainly a parenthesis that Paul's family was rich and a very high station because if they had now set this boy to Jerusalem to study the same way years before they have sent Paul to Jerusalem to study and if he seems to have had an entrée to the highest levels of the leadership of the people.
Well, that it may have been a very distinguished family. Indeed, any rate, here is this boy over the years the account in the story tells us that he went to the barracks he told Paul.
Paul told soldier who was guarding him a soldier who was guarding him, went to the commander and the commander operated immediately to remove Paul from danger, worth pausing to think about that just a little bit because here you have another of those startling biblical cases where God who is able to use the grade as well. As the little uses small things to accomplish his own purposes. I wonder if you ever thought about that in terms of Scripture, certainly God does not hesitate to stoop to use small things small objects for its purposes when he made the first man in the garden of Eden he stooped to use the dust made it might suppose a far more noble substances, but in order that he might be reminded later dust you are and under dust you shall return. God chose the dust.
When he appeared to Moses to reveal himself and call Moses to go would be the deliverer for the people to go back to Egypt, he appeared in a burning bush hillside in the remote barren area of the world. The wilderness, when he said David forced to kill the Philistine giant Goliath, the Senate with a sling and five small stones Sampson guild of the listings with the jawbone of an ass. Many, many of the great people of the Bible were at least in the early days before God began to work with them. Hardly great people at all. Abraham father of the faith was simply an idolater who lived in the Chaldees like everybody else worshiping idols, until God called them Moses was the son of slave parents.
He miscalculated when he tried to take his destiny into his own hands. He had to flee.
He spent 40 years in the desert as a shepherd. Nobody, and yet God called Moses to be the great deliverer. King David was the youngest of the sons of an obscure family in an obscure town in Judah and yet God called David to be the greatest king of all and when God was ready to send his own son Lord Jesus Christ of this earth. He chose a poor virgin of Nazareth, Mary to be Jesus mother so that's the way God operates and is worth reflecting on it. Why, because if that's the way God operates. If God delights to use the little things that it means that God can use us apostle Paul states the principal in first Corinthians in the first chapter where he says you see your calling brother and how many wise, not many noble, not many mighty have been chosen, but God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the things that are weak to bring down the things that are strong in the things that are not to confound the things that are and he does in order that no flesh might glory in his presence, so that means there's hope for us. Here's God using the boy God using Paul God, using all sorts of people and simply because they were his because he was delighted to do it. Don't ever say I know were tempted to. Don't ever say especially when you go through dark.
All things are really bad for me I am not accomplishing anything.
God certainly can't use somebody like me, and especially not in the situation or circumstances in which I find myself now because what we often find is that it is usually people like that to Arden circumstances like that that God most uses, only in the story we find God using little things that is this boy. We also find God using circumstances only say was a boy there, but the boy happened to be the right place at the right time in order to hear the plot so he could take the message to Paul and be the vehicle by which God used the deliverance ever to think of circumstances as being something that is set against you, something that God can't control. Have you ever found yourself thinking well if the circumstances of my life were different perhaps that I could've been somebody or then I could have triumphed in the particular difficulty in which I am never think that because circumstances are not independent of God, but rather, God is the God of all circumstances.
I think the greatest illustration of that in the entire Bible is the story of Joseph from the latter half of the book of Genesis. Think of the amazing circumstances in Joseph's life that God used to raise him from the pit of slavery. Indeed, the pit of an imprisoned slave to become the Prime Minister of Egypt circumstances or as small as the fancy coaches father gave him the provoked his brothers jealousy. The fact that the cistern in Shechem was dry. That season of the year so that when he was thrown into it.
He didn't drown to his life was preserved. Circumstances that involve the passing of the Midianite caravan at precisely that moment, so his brothers said here's a caravan on its way to Egypt.
Let's not tell him that's what they had thought they wanted to do. Originally, let's sell them to these traders instead at least we can profit on the deal. They'll think about Egypt and will never have to look at them again. Circumstances as small as is being purchased bought by somebody of no consequence in Egypt but by part of her captain of Pharaoh's guards circumstances of the attachments that Mrs. Potiphar had for him. The accusation that he was thrown into prison, but I just any prison. The prison where the political prisoners were kept circumstances so small as the chief cupbearer and the chief baker being imprisoned along with them in their dreams and the fact that he interpreted their dreams and then one was raised to position in Pharaoh's court once again in the years past two dark years for Joseph and then Pharaoh has a dream and this man whose dream had been interpreted when he was in the prison with the Hebrew slave remembered and said all yes I remember now. Several years ago when Pharaoh was unhappy with me. I was in prison and there was a man there who was able to interpret dreams and so they sent for Joseph and he was elevated and became what we would call the Prime Minister, the second in power in the entire land small circumstances. US circumstances that are in the hands of God. Don't ever say, oh God, can't deal with my circumstances because it is probably in those precise circumstances that God is most working with you. Well, we see what happened. The commander received word of what was up. And so he did what he could. It was his job to keep Paul safe and so he prepared an escort for them. We read about it becomes almost amusing.
Get ready. Verse 23 and attachment of 200 soldiers that is foot soldiers 70 Horsemen and is cavalry and 200 spirits going to go to Caesarea at 9 o'clock tonight.
470 of the crack troops of the Roman army foot soldiers spears run and even then mounted on horseback to bear Paul safely out of town and that's what they did this great troop took him about 35 miles downhill by night away from Jerusalem to a staging area for troops that had been built by Herod called Antipater there men on foot, left him and returned to Jerusalem to the garrison there and those were on horseback. Now that the danger was passed by them on Caesarea is an interesting letter here from this governor's name. As I pointed out in an earlier study is Claudius Lucius Macias being a Greek name Claudius, a Roman name, probably a Greek who had been freed by purchase, under the reign of the Emperor Claudius. Interesting letter. I say because while it is mostly accurate, it is nevertheless the same time rather self-serving. He says this man was seized by the Jews. They were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him thus far, of course, that was absolutely accurate but malodorous, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. Well, it's true, he learned that he was a Roman citizen but it wasn't before and was afterwards and it's a matter of fact, he very carefully leaves out the fact that he was about to have him flogged in order to discover the truth and only let off having Paul Beaton. When Paul himself revealed that he was a Roman citizen but nevertheless attached is generally accurate and as I say acted in a very responsible way and had Paul delivered so we passed to Caesarea, where we find the first time so far as we know in all Paul's life where that promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. To him 20 years before the time of his conversion began to be fulfilled because our Lord had said to him on that occasion. I'm going to send you is my ambassador and apostle to the Gentiles, and you will testify he said even before kings far as we know Paul not to this point testified before the king, but now you say Paul, the prisoner man as we would say who was the circumstances this very Paul testifies in chapter 24 before Felix.
In chapter 25 before Festus and eventually before Agrippa all before he passes on to Rome. I can't tell you what God is doing in your circumstances. Of course I can see the future anymore than you can. But God is doing something in your circumstances that if you're going through dark times. As Paul was your discouraged with the way seems dark.
If you are weary with the struggle message of this chapter is to continue to trust in God and serve him, regardless because his purpose will be accomplished. The day will brighten and the will of God will be done. You know that great hymn written by WH Burley. We don't know it well. I think because it's not in our inbox but it was in the old inter-varsity hymnbook which is where I learned it. I want to read you two verses of that him in closing, Burley wrote this still will we trust low Earth seem dark and dreary on the heart sinks beneath his chastening rod, though rough and steep.
Our pathway worn and weary still.
Will we trust in God, let us press on patient self-denial except the hardships shrink mock from the loss. Our portion lies beyond the hour of trial are crown beyond the cross of the spray her father.
We don't know why it is that we get the idea that we should where the crowns here are why we should enter into paradise on earth. When we are told so plainly in the Scripture that this life is only a pilgrimage, and that these are days of battle before we enter in the glory. So we need to be reminded of last and to see your hand in the lives of others who have tried that path before us here. We have studied this episode in the life of the great apostle Paul. In which he fell into imprisonment with loss of liberty, and in which, so far as we can tell you didn't speak to him in any special way that he trusted you lived on the witness and is now in your presence in glory. Having heard the commendation of Jesus.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Father, we have that be our pathway and are commendation to it was grace to press on worn and weary necessary but nevertheless pressing on and trusting you. We pray in Jesus name. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.
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