Prophesy comes true!

Scripture reading for July 2nd: Acts 21:18-36

Just as God had allowed Paul to know what awaited him in Jerusalem, events in our reading today unfolded to bring God’s word to pass.  Religious people hold strong opinions and often the truth interferes with their ability to hold those opinions.  They must eliminate those who hold other views that threaten their opinions.  Often they actually believe that they are doing God a favor even though they are openly breaking His law!  This is real deception!

Paul arrived in Jerusalem and went to see James and the elders there and report what God had done among the Gentiles that he had visited.  They rejoiced at what God had done but saw a problem coming there in Jerusalem.  Many Jews knew Paul’s reputation and how he had been teaching among the Gentiles that they did not need to keep the law of Moses or circumcise their bodies.  They knew that there was a potential conflict and possible trouble and devised a plan for Paul to purify himself according to the Law.  This process would take seven days and an offering and Paul went and made notice in the temple of this process.

When the seven days were nearly over, Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple and stirred up the crowd.  People came running from everywhere and they seized Paul and dragged him from the temple trying to kill him and beating him savagely.  The commander of Roman troops took some soldiers and ran into the crowd and they stopped beating him.  Paul was arrested and put in chains and then asked what he had done.  There was another uproar and Paul had to be physically carried out by the soldiers as the crowd shouted, “Away with him!” (Acts 21:36)

It is interesting to note that these were Jews attending the temple in order to worship God and offer sacrifice according to God’s law.  One of God’s laws was “Do not commit murder” (Exodus 20:13) and they were ready to kill Paul before even going through a trial or hearing witnesses.  They had judged him guilty of sin against God because they heard that he had broken their concept of God’s law.  Any judgment that condemns someone belongs to God alone.  We must check our hearts and make sure our zeal is properly directed.  Religion can be violent and dangerous!

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