Paul Goes to Jerusalem
1After saying goodbye, we sailed straight to Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and from there sailed on to Patara. 2We found a ship going to Phoenicia, so we got on board and sailed off.
3We came within sight of Cyprus and then sailed south of it on to the port of Tyre in Syria, where the ship was going to unload its cargo. 4We found the Lord's followers and stayed with them for a week. The Holy Spirit had told them to warn Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5But when the week was over, we started on our way again. All the men, together with their wives and children, walked with us from the town to the seashore. We knelt on the beach and prayed. 6Then after saying goodbye to each other, we got into the ship, and they went back home.
7We sailed from Tyre to Ptolemais, where we greeted the followers and stayed with them for a day. 8 The next day we went to Caesarea and stayed with Philip, the preacher. He was one of the seven men who helped the apostles, 9and he had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
10 We had been in Caesarea for several days, when the prophet Agabus came to us from Judea. 11He took Paul's belt, and with it he tied up his own hands and feet. Then he told us, “The Holy Spirit says that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will tie up the man who owns this belt. They will also hand him over to the Gentiles.” 12After Agabus said this, we and the followers living there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
13But Paul answered, “Why are you crying and breaking my heart? I am not only willing to be put in jail for the Lord Jesus, but I am even willing to die for him in Jerusalem!”
14Since we could not get Paul to change his mind, we gave up and prayed, “Lord, please make us willing to do what you want.”
15Then we got ready to go to Jerusalem. 16Some of the followers from Caesarea went with us and took us to stay in the home of Mnason. He was from Cyprus and had been a follower from the beginning.
As Paul journeys to Jerusalem there seems to be a discrepancy about the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul declares that he is being led by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem. But the believers along the way strongly warn Paul by the Holy Spirit that he will face many dangers. They try to dissuade him from going. So who, then, actually knows the true leading and will of God?
The believers, influenced by their love and affection for Paul, could not help but interpret the warnings of the Holy Spirit as a clear, emphatic word not to go! Their natural, human reaction was to protect Paul from harm.
Paul knew that the Holy Spirit would never contradict himself. He also knew that if he were to listen to those around him, he would end up disobeying God. But he was determined to accomplish the will of God and absolutely nothing could dissuade him from that objective.
As a believer, I definitely want to know God’s will. Yet, when he reveals to me something about the direction for my life, I often find myself experiencing fear and a whole gamut of emotions that shuts me down and hinders me from advancing spiritually.
God will always offer me the choice of obeying or of disobeying. Instinctively, I always want to know beforehand what will be involved, yet seldom does God disclose any of the details in advance.
This makes me think of a short-sighted person looking at a mural painting. He has to get very close to the painting in order to see the details, but in so doing, he automatically forfeits seeing the overall view of the picture. I have to ask: “Am I able to trust God and have confidence that he will shed light on my pathway as I go, even if I cannot see ‘the big picture’ or for that matter, the details”?
Lord, I want to serve you wholeheartedly. Help me not to succumb to the fear of an uncertain future. May nothing stop me from going in the direction that you have shown me. I personally want to apply Psalm 46:1,2 to my life, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear . . . .” I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.