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Constrained By Faith

Acts 26:30-32
The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. After they left the room, they began saying to one another, 'This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.' Agrippa said to Festus, 'This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.' (NIVUK)

When King Herod Agrippa had heard all Paul had to say, he stood up to leave the great hall of the fortress-palace in Caesarea Maritima. It was a ceremonial departure accompanied by Bernice, his incestuous sister-queen-wife, Governor Festus and the senior military and civic officials. Those left in the hall would have wondered if Paul's fate had been decided. It had been, but not by Agrippa or Festus.

In private, the king and governor agreed that, whatever accusations had been made against him by jealous religionists, there was no charge to answer. Agrippa, who had clearly been made to feel quite uncomfortable by Paul personal questions (Acts 26:26-28), now wanted to have nothing further to do with him. It put the responsibility for the prisoner back into Festus' hands. Agrippa was not going to give the governor any letter to accompany Paul to Rome (Acts 25:26-27). Instead, Agrippa allowed Festus' previous decision to stand: Paul should stand trial in Rome because he requested it and Festus announced it. The governor would have to give Caesar a good reason for sending the prisoner, but Agrippa would not get involved.

Who decided that Paul should go to Rome? Interestingly, it was in Caesarea that Agabus prophesied Paul would be handed over to the Gentiles (Acts 21:10-14). Before that Paul said that the Holy Spirit had warned him of prison hardships ahead but that he was resolute in continuing to testify to the gospel of God's grace (Acts 20:22-24). Earlier still, at Paul's commissioning in Damascus, the Lord was clear that Paul would take His Name in front of the kings of the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). So, although Paul was detained for two years in Roman protective custody (Acts 24:27), he was constrained by his faith - believing that the Lord had called him to take the gospel to Caesar in Rome.

There are times when the world (or even the church) cannot understand why we take a course of action, which seems so much to our disadvantage. Whatever sacrifice it is: our money, lifestyle, relationship, service or ministry; if we know that it is the Lord's will, and it is supported by Scripture, then we must do it. We have listened to God's Word and we are constrained by faith. The decision is God's but the agreement is ours, sustained by the Holy Spirit, as we trust the Lord to work out all the circumstances. Let the Lord work out His will in your life.

Lord of all. Thank You for choosing to involve me in Your plans. Forgive me for those times when I have not taken Your Word seriously, or have refused to cooperate with You because I thought the sacrifice was too great. Please help me draw closer to You in Your Word so that I will be eager to respond to Your Spirit, and make the sacrifices You have asked of me for the sake of Your gospel. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams