Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to governor Felix.” (Acts 23:23-24)
“Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11).
This is how the Lord assured Paul on the night following his appearance before the Sanhedrin. Their fury and hostility were so blatant that the Roman commander, fearing for Paul’s life, had speedily extracted him from their midst. Their subsequent frustration led a band of forty conspirators to hatch a plot to murder Paul, seeing themselves as a crushing contingent that would easily overwhelm one lone man.
Except, of course, he wasn’t alone. The words of the Lord reverberated still. His plan for Paul was set and would prevail. Forty conspirators were no match for the Sovereign Lord.
Imagine their surprise – indeed shock – when the request for Paul’s second audience before the Sanhedrin was met with news of a full military escort having spirited Paul away the previous night. The size of that Roman contingent would have completely dwarfed their ornery band of forty vigilantes. They were absolutely outgunned. And out-maneuvered. Before they ever got a chance to spring the trap, their prey had flown the coop. Were they infuriated by the scheming and might of Rome? Did they ever come to understand that it was the Lord himself who stood behind Paul’s rescue? When the Lord God has a plan for one of his servants, human conspiracies cannot get in the way.
Which then gives great encouragement to us when we’re called to press on with the Lord’s work in our own day. Nothing can get in the way of what he intends to accomplish. Oh, Paul still had to go through the painful reality of imprisonment. His freedom was curtailed, his mobility hampered. But the Lord kept him safe to complete the journey he had in mind. He is sovereign.
Speaking to his disciples, Jesus had put it this way: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5). In other words, it’s impossible to work without light. But don’t fear, Jesus says, for he himself is the light, providing all that is needed, extending daylight so that the work given by the Father can be completed. Nothing can get in the way. Night is held off. Conspirators kept at bay. The Lord is sovereign.
Which brings me back to those forty schemers. I’ve often wondered how long they went (and how hungry they got!) before, in humiliation, they broke their boastful vow. It turns out it’s a failing course to set yourself up against the plans of the Sovereign Lord.
On the other hand, if the Lord has given you a task, he makes the provision. Time and space and daylight are in his hands. So, trust, and press on.
Sovereign Lord, praise you that your purposes stand firm. Fulfill all your purposes for me. Lord Jesus, I welcome your light, allowing me to do the work the Father has given. I choose to enter into that work this day. Holy Spirit, strengthen me with power in my inner being to fulfill the Father’s purposes. May it all be to the glory of the Triune God. Amen.
Reflect: What work has the Lord put before you? Lay it out before him. Confirm his call. Ask for all of his provision. Trust he will provide.