Summary: This is a great example of how the sovereignty of God is seen in a very real event. God is in charage of every detail!
Passage: Acts 22:23-23-11
Intro: “When every choir member was late”
Pau Lee Tan book, #2024
1. many of us have stories, maybe not so spectacular, of God’s sovereign protection
2. and many we don’t even know about
3. our god is beyond time, sees all of time as a whole, and works with perfect wisdom and power to accomplish His will
4. we may be nervous, but God never is.
5. the passage before us is full of intrigue and excitement, but the applicable theology seems a little thin.
6. but wait! Let’s look here for what God is doing, how He is at work.
7. and know that He is at work in our lives as well.
8. his ways are sometimes difficult to understand, but that requires faith.
9. Paul’s experience here just oozes the sovereign power of God.
I. God Protects His Messenger
1. the Jews were in the middle of a group temper tantrum..v23
2. deprived of Paul’s body, they just started throwing dirt and clothes!
Il) clearly a mostly male group!
3. v24, commander probably had not understood Paul’s statement, so he was at a loss for the cause of riot.
4. v24, “flogged and questioned”
5. word same as John 19:1
PP John 19:1
6. this was use of flagellum, device of torture, often killed victim
Il) those of us who saw The Passion of the Christ” found that scene the hardest part
7. commanders purpose to beat the info out of Paul or kill him in the attempt.
8. Paul already bloodied and beaten by earlier riot.
9. v25 “stretched him out”=tied to pillar, maybe hung from rafters.
10. asks this simple question: “is it legal?”
11. answer is, “NO!”
12. several laws protected Roman citizens from this kind of treatment, but then Roman citizenship was quite rare in the first century AD.
13. Paul’s claim halted the proceedings, and notice v26…what are YOU…?
14. commander apparently got his thru bribery
15. Paul was “born” with it, which means his family was part of a very elite group.
16. most scholars believe one of his ancestors performed a valuable service and was rewarded with citizen, which was passed on.
17. so decades, even centuries earlier, God saw to it that an ancestor of his chosen messenger would become a citizen, so Paul’s life could be saved that day in Jerusalem
18. and as we’ll see, he is accorded very respectful treatment by the Romans
19. our lives are the same if we are God’s children, even if we die
Il) Corrie Ten Boom story, Tan, #2030
II. God Shuts His Messengers Mouth
1. the commander is still in the dark as to why this riot took place.
2. so he ordered the Sanhedrin to meet, along with high priest v30
3. things did not start well, as 23:1-2 show
4. Ananias the high priest was most likely unknown to Paul, but well-known to everyone else.
5. very corrupt, stole the portions that belonged to the lesser priests.
7. now here, commentators start getting tough on Paul. Loses temper, etc.
8. but I see Paul as prophet here, because in fact God did strike Ananias
Il) ultimately, in 66AD, his house was burned, and he and his brother Hezekiah were found in an aqueduct and killed by their own Jewish countrymen. (Josephus)
9. but he apologizes for this outburst, and then does something very strange in v6
10. here he is, at last getting a hearing in the Sanhedrin, eager to bear witness to Jesus.
11. and instead, he lobs this theological grenade into the group, setting off a predictable explosion.
Il) Pharisees and Sadducees like Shiites and Sunni, differing sects within same religion
12. why did he do this? I believe it was God directing this, not Paul
14. no one had received more revelation than the Jews in general and these guys in specific.
15. Jesus Himself had stood in their midst and claimed to be Son of God, and proven it by rising from the dead.
16. yet they continued to resist, so God is shutting the mouth of His servant
17. this has been slowly happening throughout Acts, but now the leaders of Judaism are shut out from God’s gracious revelation.
PP Mark 6:11
18. it’s a terrible thing to get to this point, because all that is left is lies.
19. God is sovereign over who hears truth, who hears lies.
III. God Uses the Gentiles to Deliver the Messenger with the Message
1. I imagine Paul feeling pretty low after this experience.
2. he had traveled for months, put his life at risk, to bear witness to Jesus in Jerusalem
3. and now, in some kind of protective custody, he was probably kicking himself for the ways things had happened.