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A Routine Process In God's Hand

Acts 23:31-35
So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, he said, 'I will hear your case when your accusers get here.' Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod's palace. (NIVUK)

Apparently, there is nothing remarkable about this narrative. Paul was being moved from the Fortress in Jerusalem to another in Caesarea. It was an emergency evacuation to get Paul away from a third plot to kill him; but well within the capacity of the Roman army to assemble and escort of 470 militia and horses with six hours' notice. Then the commander's plans were followed through by the two centurions and the company moved off into the night, three hours after sunset to outwit the plotters (Acts 23:23-30).

After travelling for some 35 miles they reached Antipatris, another Roman stronghold. To complete that journey by dawn the next day, the 200 foot soldiers would have marched that distance; so they would have arrived in the late evening on the second day, although Paul rode with the mounted platoons. The third day saw Paul's horse accompanied by the detachment of 200 cavalry, completing the journey to Caeserea in daylight. It all went according to plan.

The letter from commander Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:27-30) declared that he found no offence worthy of death or imprisonment under Roman law. When Governor Felix in Caesarea read the letter he realised that although Paul's accusers wanted him dead, there was nothing to warrant sending him back to his home city of Tarsus for trial. Felix knew he must decide the case, but Paul's accusers must be present to state their case. It was all controlled by the Roman legal process: or was it? Yes, and no. The Lord used that process and ensured that it functioned perfectly to keep His servant safe. Paul had a job to do; it was not his time to die (Acts 23:11).

Sometimes we may think that God is not answering our prayers; there is no miracle to salvage a desperate situation and the world seems to be in control. That is not right. The Lord is always in command; and He uses whatever means He chooses to make sure His plans succeed. He knows what He is doing. The ordinary processes of home life, education and the workplace are all tools in God’s hand. Nothing outwits God and He will use humanly devised processes if they suit His purpose; and He will upset them if they are working against His plan. The routine, as well as the miraculous, are equally powerful in God's hand.

Lord God Almighty. Thank You for the amazing way in which You use earthly processes and extraordinary miracles equally to fulfil Your purpose. Forgive me for the times in which I have grumbled or despaired because I have thought that the world is in control, when all the time Your command is powerful – even through people who think that they are just doing their job. Please help me to realise that You always know what You are doing and only allow whatever will bring glory to Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams