The Lord Orchestrates The Details of Our Lives
Topic: Sovereignty of God Passage: Acts 25:1–25:12
As we saw last week with the words of the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:8), we as believers must trust the Lord with our lives. We must trust God’s sovereign, providential hand with every detail of our lives. If God sovereignly wills that we get to point A or point B, it cannot not happen. But we don’t know God’s sovereign will before it happens. So Paul too is in the dark about how he will get to Rome. What we see with Paul is also true for every believer - we must trust in the Lord. If we only see from the temporal human perspective, we will easily grow frustrated and bitter; but if we see God’s sovereign, loving, providential hand in the midst of our circumstances, we can rest in His good purposes (Rom. 8:28).
Paul has now been in prison for two years without a conviction. Felix is finally replaced by Festus, but not before Felix decides to leave Paul in jail. The Jewish historian Josephus lets us know that Festus was a much more upright and competent ruler than Felix was. Festus is now governor of Judea, and the first thing he does is go to Jerusalem and get to know the Jewish leadership (Acts 25:1). We see that even after two years, the Jews still want Paul dead (Acts 25:2-3). But Festus doesn’t grant the Jews’ request to have Paul brought to Jerusalem (Acts 25:4-5). Paul now stands again before his accusers. This has got to cause him anger, doubt, confusion, and frustration. Paul defends himself from the three main charges they brought against him concerning the Law of Moses, the temple, and Caesar (Acts 25:8). But Festus sees this as an opportunity to do the Jews a favor and to cater to them (Acts 25:9). Paul then plays his trump card and appeals to Caesar (Acts 25:11).
We know that God has been at work in all of these details of Paul’s life. You have to read this in light of Acts 9:15 and 23:11. Paul preaches before the Jews, the Gentiles, and the king of Judea (Herod Agrippa), fulfilling all of Acts 9:15. And Paul will testify in Rome, because the Lord was at work in the midst of all of these frustrating circumstances. God was Paul’s protection through it all. Here the Jewish opposition is a picture of a culture arraying itself against the Holy God. Throughout the centuries, religious churchly hierarchies have been used as forces against the gospel. When cultures at large refuse to submit to God’s truth, they will seek to eliminate that truth. This is because the light exposes their evil deeds (John 3:19-21). Paul was a dark, evil, wrath-deserving person, who by no power of his own had the light of the gospel shine on him.
Throughout history and today, Christians will face opposition by those who despise a God-centered worldview. The world around us doesn’t really care about justice. More and more our culture today will not tolerate Christian, biblical faithfulness. So more and more we need to be prepared to stand for truth. We must prayerfully grasp and know that God is at work behind the scenes in all of it. During Paul’s two years in prison, he must have contemplated the story of Joseph (especially Gen. 50:20). God’s providential hand protected Paul from death for now, but eight years later God wills Paul’s death. God orchestrated all of Paul’s circumstances to bring him to this point. These two years in prison for Paul were likely crucial for Luke’s research for his gospel and the book of Acts. A Christian who is trusting in God’s sovereign providence sees all these things as from the hand of God. From a godless worldview, all of this is just a bunch of purposelessness. The reality of walking in the hope of 1 Peter 1:8 and knowing that God is sovereign is what brings the calm and the courage to boldly speak the truth.