Dear Student of the Word,
I am off to Kenya in a few hours, but thought I would get this latest Acts study out to you before I go. This week we continue to walk with Paul as he confronted his Jewish accusers before Roman officials. This week I wrote in part seven of this seven-part study:
Study Thirty, Part Seven
6 After spending eight or ten days with them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7 When Paul appeared, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. 8 Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar."
25:6 – Festus spent some time in Jerusalem getting to know the Jews. Notice again that he went “down” from Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the pinnacle and everything else was below it. This developed a superiority complex among those who lived there, especially the leaders, who felt they were exempt from right behavior. Jeremiah confronted this same attitude:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!" If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless (Jeremiah 7:3-8).
The people believed in Jeremiah’s day that the Temple of the Lord would protect them no matter what they did. They believed in the sanctity of a place and a building, when God wanted the holiness of His people.
25:7 – Festus wasted no time convening a hearing and the Jews brought many serious charges against Paul. It is safe to assume that since the charges from their first hearing two years prior didn’t get results, they intensified their case with new, more serious charges. They probably had attorneys and had gathered some testimony from other parts of the world. But still they could not prove their accusations and charges.
25:8 – Paul stood alone, as far as we can tell. He had no legal representation, choosing rather to represent himself. He was confident that his God would stand with him and help him make his case. At the same time, Paul had lived in the truth of what God had spoken to him for the last two years
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11).
Do you have any promises or directives that God has given you? If so, are you living in them? Have you put your faith in them? The Bible teaches:
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Jesus Himself quoted this verse when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Are you living according to the word that comes from God’s mouth for you? God is a great communicator. He speaks every language, He speaks through circumstances, He speaks through His word, He speaks through other people, both believers and non-believers. He can even speak through a donkey as we saw in the story of Balaam in Numbers 22. God is actively communicating with His people and with you. What is He saying? What has He said? Listen more carefully, in faith write down what you think God is saying, and build your life around that, just like Paul did.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, "Glory!" (Psalm 29:3-9).
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.
KENYA UPDATE: I am still $5,000 short of my goal of $25,000 for Kenya. There is still time to help. You can give through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. If you send a check, just let me know so I can front the money while I am in Kenya until April 4.