Acts 18 is one of the chapters wherein God’s promise is really evident. To further appreciate it, we can read at the previous chapters and see Paul’s journey as he spread the gospel.
We knew now what happened with Paul – he was imprisoned, beaten, and stoned that he even almost died. We can imagine that he must be really tired from going from one place to another as he has been to many places God told him to go. Not only that, he was harmed. He might be regularly harmed that it actually look like it is already a norm.
Again, let’s put ourselves in Paul’s shoes – I believe he might have prayed for deliverance from all this pain and suffering – that it might be possible for him to just pass through a country and peacefully preach the gospel. I would also like to think, he would want to defend himself every time he was being physically hurt – he would want to fight back. But he followed God wholeheartedly and with full obedience – no matter what the trouble might be in this new place.
But during his stay in Corinth, something different happened. Lord told him on a vision:
“...“Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”” – Acts 18:9-10
If I were Paul, I would just shrug this vision off and say “Ugh, beating is normal. But thank You!” or probably ask God, “Why just now?”. Why not spare Paul from the start? He’s been through too much – Why just now? I believe the answer to this is, for us to see how powerful the Holy Spirit works in Paul’s life – I don’t think a normal human could survive all that, but because he has the Holy Spirit within him and He has God, he can do all things. Instead of questioning God, Paul got bolder to preach the gospel and just followed God without hesitation.
But, that peace did not last long. After some time, there he was again on the same situation – being brought up to the tribunal and maybe be stoned, again. People were just attacking him, let’s just hope verbally, and maybe he was reminded of God’s promise, we don’t know – but we can clearly see Paul was ready to defend himself. What happens next is just amazing:
“But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” And he drove them from the tribunal.” – Acts 18 14-16
Paul didn’t even have to utter any word, God intervened through Gallio. He was not harmed in any way. How faithful and true to His promises God is! Just wow!
From this, we can have three points to ponder on:
- God got us covered. There are battled in our lives where in we don’t even have to say something or do something, but just plain trust Him. And we have to accept that some battles are only fought by Him, and all we have to do is just let Him fight for us. It’s God telling us not to stress ourselves out, He got us covered. He will be the one to fight our battles, and we just have to focus on Him. And just as He promised, He will be with us and no one will be able to attack us.
- When God give promises, it might not be on our own timeline, but surely He will come through. God might be building up Paul’s faith through the challenges which produced his endurance. And the same is true with us, God wants to builds us up first – our character, our heart. And then when the perfect time comes, when we are ready, His promises will come forth in our very eyes. He is never late, maybe early at times – just trust in His timing.
- Lastly, obedience is the key to God’s promises unfolding. If Paul stopped and stayed silent because he’s tired and terrified and too hurt – he wouldn’t be able to see the promise come true. Our obedience is the key to all this, God is generous to give all that our hearts desire, especially if it’s according to His will, but we must be willing to follow where He leads.
And if we think, the story ends here – keep on reading Paul’s journey especially when he got back to Jerusalem, you’ll be amazed of how faithful God is. That what He promised is not just a one time thing, that even after, God’s mercy is still evident.
I pray we be the same – the same heart, same obedience,and same faith. That we open our hearts to God’s leading and let Him move us towards Him. To listen, obey, and have an expectant heart to see His promises unfold our very eyes. And let’s not do this just because we are promised, I pray we be inspired by His unending love.