“The Will of the Lord Be Done” – Acts 21:1-14
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In chapter 21, Dr. Luke records the next part of the Apostle Paul's journey "to Jerusalem" and eventually to "Rome."
When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."
The Holy Spirit's purpose was clear:
But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome."
And Paul would not be dissuaded regardless of warnings:
And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
In spite of the tears and sorrow of his friends and loved ones (Acts 20:37-38), and the threats to his life and health, nothing would stop Paul from his call to Christ.
For he knew that this physical life is just temporary:
"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself."
For the ultimate prize was only won by:
"...finishing the race with joy and the ministry... from the Lord Jesus, to testify of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24b)
May we learn from the apostle this great truth:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
As he applied it in his life, may we live it in ours.
"...to Cos (Kos)..."
* Kos - An island on the "straight course" to Patara.
* Another island on the normal sea route.
* The city of Rhodes had an excellent harbor that faced Patara, still in use today.
* An important port in southern Asia Minor.
* A stopover for the grain trade from Alexandria (Egypt). The grain ships, due to Mediterranean wind conditions, stopped over in Patara before turning west to Rome.
"...finding a ship...to Phoenicia..."
* Paul and his ministry companions needed a ship that could navigate through open water, rather than a smaller ship that stayed close to land.
* Tyre in Phoenicia (their destination en route to Jerusalem) was 350 miles away, 4-5 days sailing from Patara.
"...sailed to Syria..."
* Phoenicia (Tyre) and Judea (Jerusalem) belonged to the Roman province of Syria.
* Christians, believers in the Lord Jesus.
"...we stayed there seven days..."
* It was hospitality rather than haste that moved Paul's group to stay. The walk from Tyre to Ptolemais (their next stop) was only two days away.
"...they told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem."
* The first group to warn Paul on this segment of his journey were Christians, "disciples" in Tyre.
* "Through the Spirit" - Everywhere Paul goes he is warned what will happen in Jerusalem (Vs. 20:22-23).
* "They told Paul...not to go up to Jerusalem." - Notice "they," not the Holy Spirit.
Their ("they") prophetic knowledge was incomplete (2 Kings 2:3, 5, 16; 1 Cor. 13:9), and Paul had a fuller knowledge of what God had planned for him: "Paul purposed in the Spirit...to go to Jerusalem...I must also see Rome." (Vs. 19:21).
"...and we knelt down on the shore and prayed."
* Kneeling while praying is acceptable before God during supplication and seeking guidance (Acts. 9:40).
* It is a form of homage and is pleasing to Him (Gen. 18:2).
* "The shore" - Modern day Tsor, Lebanon. 12 miles north of Israel today, an area of beautiful beaches.
"...we boarded the ship, they returned home."
* Another "bon voyage" (Vs. 20:36-21:1).
* Named for the Greek General Ptolemy.
* A short boat ride from Tyre.
"On the next day we...came to Caesarea..."
* The city of the Centurion Cornelius (Acts 10:1).
*"Caesarea" Maritima - Built by Herod the Great. Not to be confused with Caesarea Philippi (Panias) north of Galilee in Ituraea.
"...and entered the house of Philip the Evangelist..."
*"Philip the Evangelist" - He was the first to leave Judea and to go into Samaria (Acts 1:8) preaching the Gospel of Christ (Acts 8:5-8).
* Philip was told by an angel of the Lord to go to Gaza, preach the Gospel and baptize the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40).
* By this, Philip fulfilled the God given mission of his call (Eph. 4:11), and the Gospel went to Ethiopia.
"...one of the seven..."
* Seven deacons in the early Jerusalem Church (Acts 6:1-6).
"Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied."
* Fulfilling prophecy:
'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.'
Philip, who was of "good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom" was obedient to his first call -- to deacon, and from that obedience, God used him to evangelize Samaria and ultimately Ethiopia!
Obedience led to blessing his:
"Four virgin daughters prophesied."
And God was pleased!
"...a...prophet...Agabus came down from Judea."
* Agabus had previously prophesied of a great famine in the land of Judea, which led to the relief offering from the Gentile churches to their Jerusalem brethren (Acts 11:27-30).
* Paul and his companions (representative of these churches, Acts 20:4, 1 Cor. 16:1-4) were still engaged in this relief effort.
"...bound his own hands and feet..."
* Prophets were known to take dramatic action.
"Thus says the Holy Spirit..."
* Because of Agabus' previous prophecy coming to pass, they believed this prophecy.
And it came to pass (Acts 21:33, 22:25).
"...so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles."
* "Jews at Jerusalem" - The religious Jews, not the Jewish believers.
* "And deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles" - Paul is following in his Lord's footsteps (Mk. 10:33-34).
Now Paul has been warned by clergy (Eph. 4:11) not to go to Jerusalem.
"Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem."
* "Both we and those" - Paul's traveling companions and his hosts in Caesarea.
* "Pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem." - Again, Paul is warned, "pleaded with," not to go to Jerusalem.
But Paul understands that prophecy (prediction) is not prohibition, but rather, preparation.
Paul is not defying the Holy Spirit by disregarding the warnings of Christians (Vs. 4), clergy (Vs. 11) and his companions (Vs. 12).
He understands the prophecy as true, but not as a warning to prohibit his journey to Jerusalem, but as preparation for what will take place once he's there.
"...for I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus."
* "To be bound" - He will be in Jerusalem.
* “To die" - Not in Jerusalem, but Rome.
* "For the Name" - The Lord's name is synonymous with His will. That's why we pray:
"In Jesus Name, amen!"
We are asking for His will to be done.
"So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying,
"The will of the Lord be done."
After all else is said and done, what is the proper response? To God’s call or commission?
"The will of the Lord be done."
When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to teach them to pray:
So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
The Apostle Paul, and his companions, knew this great truth:
To be in the center of the Father's will is the safest place, no matter the physical surroundings, or anything that the adversary throws at us.
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
We especially need to learn this truth in view of the time we live in.