Scripture reading for July 5th: Acts 23:11-35
As Paul brought division in the Sanhedrin by his statement in favor of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees and Sadducees got into a violent argument that caused the commander to order Paul taken away to the barracks. They used force to remove him from their midst!
“The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot.” (Acts 23:12-13) Evidently the command “Thou shall not murder” did not mean anything to these religious Jews. Forty men set out to kill Paul and plotted with the elders of the Sanhedrin to deceive the commander and put their plan into action. But a relative of Paul heard about the plot and warned Paul, who then had him talk to the commander privately. The commander ordered four hundred seventy soldiers to take Paul to Caesarea that night. Paul was sent to Governor Felix with a letter explaining Paul’s citizenship and the Jews accusations.
This plot of murder was stopped by God’s chosen authorities! I often wonder when I read this if this group of forty men starved to death or died of thirst because of the vow they took! God tells us not to make a vow unless we are serious about keeping it. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7) He also tells Christians not to swear by anything or make an oath. (James 5:12) God also places authorities in power to punish the wicked and protect the righteous. (Romans 13:1-7) In this case, the Roman soldiers and authorities were used to protect Paul from the church authorities plotting his murder!
Deception is a favorite tool of the devil. He is a liar, the father of all lies, and a murderer! (John 8:44) Jesus Himself was nearly stoned by a crowd of Jews when He pointed this out and called them to repentance and belief in the truth! (John 8:59) Jesus had warned the disciples that they would face this kind of persecution and stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. (Matthew 10:18-19) They were not to worry, because the Holy Spirit would speak through them! Jesus was certainly a prophet and His words were fulfilled! They are true today for all His followers!