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Posts Tagged ‘Romans’

Verse 25: “And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?””

In the 1979 TV special The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t, Count Dracula (played comically by Judd Hirsch) and the other monsters are trying to stop the Wicked Witch (played equally comically by Mariette Hartley) from leaving his castle; if she doesn’t fly over the moon, there will be no Halloween. The Witch is tired of being seen as ugly and unimportant, and wants to quit. As all the monsters corner her in the hallway and attempt to dogpile her, she causes the lights to go out briefly. Igor (played comically by Henry Gibson) has a stranglehold on her, gloating, “I got her. I got her! Now she’ll never get away!” As they all get up, the caped figure turns out to be a snarling Count Dracula, with Igor meekly saying, “She got away.” The look and reaction on their faces is the typical screwball comedy ploy of “whoops, we caught our leader”!

Once more, Paul uses his legal knowledge in God’s service. About to be scourged to ascertain why the mob is out for his blood, he calmly asks the centurion if it’s legal to scourge a Roman citizen who is uncondemned. You could almost hear the figurative “brakes screeching” as all the soldiers backed away and the commander realized the trouble he was in and could be in, even worse! Romans loved their laws and prided themselves on applying that to conquered societies as part of the Roman way. They saw it as part of their “civilized” structure. And if you broke that law…big trouble. Though not out of the woods yet, Paul used what he knew and used it in the service of the Lord, as a way of furthering the Gospel.

Like the old joke about the man threatened by a flood, when God told him “I sent you two rowboats and a helicopter”, God wants us to use what we know and what we have in His service.

More to come!

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Verse 21: “Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’”

“God has sent me to minister and to witness to the Nazis!”

How would you feel if you heard a fellow American say that? Confused? Angry, upset? Fearful?

You could about fill in the blank of “to the ____” with a group or individuals you felt strongly against. I remember back after 9-11-01, our church had a prayer vigil. Our pastor asked deacons to pray for specific groups. And he wanted someone to pray for Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. I chose that one, because I knew it would be through only God’s love and His strength that I could pray for enemies who did such a heinous crime. God reminded me though…isn’t that what Paul was before his conversion? An enemy who killed Christians?

Here, his fellow Jews are in an uproar. “Minister to Gentiles? WHAT? Was he crazy? The Gentiles??? Away with him!” Needless to say, without God’s intervention, Paul probably would’ve been martyred that day. In this case, we see an interesting form of rescue. Whom did God use to save Paul? To paraphrase that great secret agent, Maxwell Smart: “wouldja believe…the Romans?”

More to come!

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Verse 19: “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”

Al Capone was the vicious mob leader and gangster during the Prohibition era in Chicago. He had friends on both sides of the law, and for a while, no one thought he would be arrested. For all of the crimes he was responsible for (murder, bootlegging, and other violence), the charge that he was arrested and later convicted on was…income tax evasion. Seems like such a minor charge, but it was one that the federal authorities were able to get a conviction on. Once in jail, Capone’s influence began to wane.

When Paul cast out the prophetic demon from the young girl, her masters who owned her (and profited by her “gift”) were none too happy. But this wasn’t the charge that they had Paul and Silas arrested for. They complained to the magistrates that Paul and Silas were “teaching customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” It was the implication of “civil disorder” that was frowned upon in Roman society that more than likely snowballed the efforts to get Paul and Silas thrown in jail. You see, Paul and Silas preaching the Gospel, what they actually were doing, wasn’t the charge. It was “causing civil disorder”…that and probably some discrimination against them, since they were Jews. It doesn’t seem like anything more than a minor charge, but this was all it took to get them thrown into prison. We’ll see more in the next couple of verses of how these two were “railroaded” without due process.

Just a cautionary devotion on the fact that the devil cheats, and uses all sorts of weapons, major and minor, to attack Christians.

More to come.

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