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 and report what God had done among the Gentiles that he had visited. They rejoiced at his report but saw a looming problem. 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 be circumcised. They knew that there was a potential conflict and devised a plan for Paul to purify himself according to the Law. This process would take Paul seven days and an offering.
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 without going through a proper trial or hearing witnesses! They had judged him as guilty because they assumed 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!