Felix outed and replaced by Festus as the Roman leader over the Jewish provinces. Now Paul is Festus’ problem, and the Jewish leaders see a new opportunity. They request Paul be sent to Jerusalem for trial, but what they really want is that ambush planned over two years ago. I wonder how that fast is going (re: Acts 23:12)? It’s déjà vu as Festus insists they come to Caesarea where they make their weak case against Paul and Festus doesn’t buy it. He knows Paul isn’t guilty, but he desires to appease and please the Jews to keep the peace and keep his job.
Festus capitalizes on a welcome visit from King Agrippa to obtain Agrippa’s insights on Paul’s case. Paul has lawfully appealed to Caesar, and Festus needs to document the charges causing him to be sent to Rome. Not an easy task for an innocent prisoner.
Paul is given the opportunity to make his case – make the Gospel case – to King Herod Agrippa II and Bernice (his sister and also his lover according to most historians). Herod Agrippa II, whose father Herod Agrippa I had the apostle James murdered. Herod Agrippa II, whose grandfather, Herod Antipas, had John the Baptist beheaded. Herod Agrippa II, whose great-grandfather, Herod the Great, had all the baby boys in and around Jerusalem killed in an attempt to kill Jesus.
Agrippa and Bernice arrive with “great pomp” to question the prisoner Paul. Isn’t it interesting how from our vantage point we can clearly see the insignificance of the “great pomp” Agrippa was so proud to walk in? Earthy power is fleeting. The great-grandson of the one who tried to kill the infant Jesus is hearing of Jesus the Messiah, and Paul GETS to be the one to deliver it.
Though circumstances look bleak, God is sovereignly working to grant Paul an audience with the most influential Roman and Israelite leaders of the day to share the Gospel.
Steven Cole says, “Often the greatest opportunities for ministry that God gives us come disguised as frustrating or confusing circumstances where we seem to be restricted from reaching our goals. If we view those circumstances from the human perspective, as just so much ‘bad luck,’ we will grumble in discouragement and miss the opportunity for ministry. But if we submit to God’s mighty hand, He can use us in such a way that He alone gets the glory.”
What a reminder to me that I can grumble and pout about my circumstances and not being where I want or think I should be…or I can press into it, put my head down in prayer and my eyes up to the Master Orchestrator, and with expectation be used where He has me. And I’ve learned that there are great heart insights to be found in evaluating my reaction to my unfulfilled desires….am I upset because I am missing out on self-glory or am I okay with it because I am after God’s glory and trust in His steering and closed doors. I don’t want to ever miss God’s opportunities for me to join in His work because I am wallowing over my self-generated opportunities gone south. I trust Him enough to know His are always better.
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