The Holy Spirit warns


The Holy Spirit warns

Acts 21

 

I will like to take you on a journey; close your eyes and try to imagine just what Apostle Paul encountered as he sailed from here to there and through the passages I’m sharing with you below.

Cos is a Greek island; a narrow gulf of the Aegean Sea. Rhodes is an island in Greece; located in the eastern Aegean Sea. Patara which is now known as Arsinoe; was a flourishing maritime and commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey near the modern small town of Gelemiş, in Antalya Province. Phoenicia was an ancient Semitic civilization situated on the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent and centered on the coastline of modern Lebanon and Tartus Governorate in Syria. Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean and a member state of the European Union. It is located east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel and north of Egypt. Syria officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. Its capital Damascus is among the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, it is home to diverse ethnic groupsArmenians, Assyrians, Druze, Kurds, and Turks. And religious groups, including ChristianArabs, Alawite, [Islam] and Sunni Arabs [Islam] make up the largest population group in Syria. Tzor aka Tyre is a kibbutz; which is a collective community in central Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Located about 12mi from Jerusalem, near the city of Beit Shemesh. Ptolemais a city in the northern coastal plain region of northernIsrael at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay; is a bay along the Mediterranean coast of Northern Israel. Haifa Bay is Israel’s only natural harbor on the Mediterranean.

 In Caesarea, where some of the brethren who accompanied Paul to the home of Philip the evangelist who shares with the lost the Good News of JESUS CHRIST it’s with him they stay. Evangelist Philip had four virgin daughters with the gift of prophecy. While staying there, a prophet named Agav came down from Judahto visit us. Agav took Paul’s belt, tied up his own hands and feet and said, “Here is what the Holy Spirit says: “the man who owns this belt — the Judeans in Jerusalem will tie him up just like this and hand him over to the Gentiles.” After the brothers and those that were near heard this prophecy they begged Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Now this is the part that I get excited about; we must understand just how far Paul has traveled.  This is why all the locals were given in the scripture and I took it just a bit further explaining about these locations. Paul knew what he must do regarding the work of the LORD.  And after hearing the warning by the Holy Spirit; Paul did not flinch; however, those who were near him apparently did not hear what Paul heard. The Holy Spirit was warning him what was to happen to him once he got into Jerusalem.  Paul’s companions became filled with fear I believe; none of us desire to see anyone that we love be harmed in any fashion. I think that the brethren saw death for Paul and not imprisonment. Our emotions will always take us further than we desire to go and it is impossible for us to see clearly when we are led by our emotions. For example; had Paul’s companions not been overtaken with emotions they would have not paid attention to what may happen but to what JESUS was going to do through Paul’s obedience to go regardless of the outcome.  Paul responded; What are you doing, crying and trying to weaken my resolve?  In other words Paul was asking why they are trying to make him change his mind from what he has to do. I am prepared not only to be tied up, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the LORD JESUS.” What a testament of faith and determination; Paul understood that he would be bound by the Jews there in Jerusalem but he took it further by saying that he was ready to die if it be GOD’s will in the name of JESUS. Take the time to think about what Paul said and in your thinking be brutally honest with yourself as you ask the question. Do I have that type of faith? Am I really in a place at this moment to have that kind of determination to go forward regardless of the outcome for JESUS? If I were in countries that exist today; right now, that torture anyone who speaks the name of JESUS; am I willing to be tortured; or would I crack under the pressure? You must be honest with yourself which means that you will have to take self inventory; because as quiet as its kept; most of us can’t even be obedient to the Word that we know let alone continue with the task given us to do the work set before us. Now Paul and some of the disciples from Caesarea was taken to the home of an earlier disciple name Mnason; how many of us have read this chapter and simply glazed over the fact that there was a disciple from way back whose name is not published as widely as the better known disciples? Mnason a native of Cyprus, like Barnabas (11:19-20), and was well known to the Christians of Caesarea (4:36). He was an “old disciple”; he had become a Christian in the beginning of the formation of the Church in Jerusalem.  While in Jerusalem we will begin to see where everything gets shaken to bits. There were disciples there who were glad to welcome Paul and his companions who were traveling with him; they all received a warm and loving welcome. The next day the brethren and Paul went to visit James who was in the company of the elders. Paul, I’m sure just as I am was eager to share what GOD had done through him and the ministry given to him. Most people are not eager to share or to hear because they know that they are not willing to depend of GOD as those who have that eagerness to share what GOD is doing. It does not take a special or educated person to be used by GOD; all it takes is faith and a will to be used. However, even though we share what we expect and hope will be well received by our Christian family members; this is not always the case. Though everyone praised GOD for what HE has done; the moment was ruined by a big fat bothersome “but”. Now in Jerusalem; tens of thousands had become believers in CHRIST JESUS; however, they were still lovers of the law. And so are some of you who are reading this blog. Are you still locked into the Ten Commandments; what is to be eaten and what is not to be eaten? How many of you are ready to take revenge or is hateful towards others? How about un-forgiveness? Oh these are just a tiny bit of the laws there are over six hundred more. Now James and the elders began to speak speculations about what Paul is teaching. How believing Jews who live around non believing Jews are to dismiss the teaching of the Law of Moses. Teaching about circumcision no longer being a requirement. To deny Jewish traditions. Here again; Paul is being faced with believers who is wrapped in emotions and to go a bit further the census of how what he teaches is to be accepted or not. Before I go any further allow me to remind what is written in the Word of GOD. Circumcision is no longer a requirement of the flesh on a male’s genitalia as an outward showing of who we are in the body as being Jewish. However, circumcision of the flesh of the heart is [Romans 2:28-29]. Besides, was Abraham circumcised before he believed in the blessed hope? Nope! And it is with Abraham’s example that Gentiles have the same access to GOD as Jews. Those that have their heart circumcised because of their faith in JESUS; is Jew. The letter of the law has never profited anyone but the Spirit does profit us and our praise is given from GOD. “So do what we tell you”; says the elders. We have four men who are under a vow for ritual purification; however they did not have any money. It is suggested that Paul take them for purification and pay their expenses; this was to prove to everyone that Paul is still in observance of the Law of Moses. Maybe yes, maybe no; I don’t know what was going on in Paul’s mind at that time. However; knowing that Paul was a man of peace and this is where we can take his example. If believers believe that traditions are not sinful and if they are not doing anything sinful then we don’t need to persuade them with anything differently. For example; there are many Christians who drink; smoke marijuana just to name a couple. They are just as much in love with JESUS as one who is not; they know that they are forgiven for getting drunk at times and for surrendering their mind to drugs but for whatever reason they don’t walk in their freedom not to drink and drug. Or here is a more popular stumbling block; some Christians believe that it’s a sin to eat port and will not eat it; then there are others who know and understand that everything that GOD has made is clean and is not to be called unclean. As long as we pray asking GOD to bless the food we are not being held prisoner to eating food with cloven hoofs.  It’s all about freedom and as loving brothers and sisters in CHRIST JESUS we are not to condemn others for what is a sin to them but when in their presence though we know freedom and live in freedom; we would not do anything that would cause our brothers and sisters to fall. However, when the close of the seven days of purification was coming to a close; Jews from Asia who did not believe in JESUS saw Paul in the Temple and assumed that because they witnessed Paul in the company of a gentile that he had taken the non-believer in JESUS or non-observer of the law into the Temple. Gentiles or non-observers of the Law of Moses were considered an abomination coming into the Temple. Seems to me that if a person is a non-believer the Temple or the Church building is the first place you would want that person to be. Go figure! I don’t know if things have change at all or much when it comes to the Synagogues another name for Temple. The Jews who heard these accusations became inflamed; laid hold of Paul; threw him out of the Temple; shut the doors and were trying to kill him. Along came a Roman commander with his officers and soldiers; once the rioters saw those who were in authority; they ceased beating Paul. Now it does not make any sense to me as to why Paul was arrested when he was clearly the victim and the Roman commander could not make head or tales out of what the commotion was all about. However, it is made clear that the Roman commander mistook Paul for being an Egyptian who is known for leading riots among the Jews in Jerusalem. Did anyone notice in their reading  that just as the Holy Spirit had warned; Paul’s hands and feet were bound; not by one chain but two? And as Paul was being led away to the jail; the soldiers had to actually carry Paul because the crowd was so irate that the air was filled with hatred for him and they wanted him dead.