The Apostle Paul had his share of hostility directed at him. Wherever he went preaching the Word of God and proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord, there were inevitably some (or many!) who took offense at what he said. Paul was the poster boy for what Jesus declared about Himself and the Gospel in Luke 12:51:
“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
And, boy, did Paul bring division! Consider the courage it took for him to do this. It didn’t take him long in his missionary endeavors to realize that telling the Jews their Messiah had come, and they had crucified Him, wouldn’t exactly be a unifying message. He already knew this, of course, from the fact that they had killed Jesus for this very reason. Still, to take up his cross and to go into the world to communicate this – knowing it would anger many and there would be repercussions – was an exceedingly difficult assignment.
He never seems to have shrunk back from this. From town to town, synagogue to synagogue, group of religious Jews to pagan Gentiles, Paul spoke up and declared the truth of God. Because of his faithfulness, God preserved him and even gave Paul encouragement when he needed. While in Jerusalem, his words caused much rage among the Jews, and God had to bring him a Word of comfort and continued challenge as noted in Acts 23:11:
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
The fury the Jews felt toward Paul resulted in forty of them banding together and taking an oath to kill him. These men went to the chief priests and elders, told them of their plan, and received their help in carrying out their plot. This is detailed in Acts 23:12-15:
When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
Let’s think about this for a minute. The Jews who decided to kill Paul did so because they were religious and thought they were doing the right thing. They wanted to “protect” Yahweh from this man they viewed as a blasphemer (as though He needs man’s help in that respect!). What then? They confided to the Pharisees of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council. These men, if no one else, knew Scripture. They had certainly memorized the Ten Commandments. As such, they well understood Commandment #6:
“You shall not murder.”
God had commanded His people not to deliberately kill someone. Talk about a transgression against Him that these men approved! Maybe the chief priests thought there was a hierarchy of commandments, in the sense that they could break a lower (i.e. lesser) one in order to uphold one that was more important. Perhaps they felt Paul was breaking Commandment #3:
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
If so, did they believe that it was their job to eliminate someone who – in their estimation – was blaspheming God because he proclaimed God in the flesh?
Whatever their thought process, it likely didn’t go over well with the Lord who made a way for Paul to escape their evil machinations.
Is there a parallel of sorts with the church today or tomorrow? In our woke culture where social justice, Critical Race Theory (CRT), and gender confusion are the subjects of major focus, many churches have embraced these ideas. They are NOT Biblical by any stretch of a true interpretation of Scripture, but that is immaterial to such religious institutions and those who lead them.
What we’ve even seen is those who stand for the actual Word of God criticized by numerous religious leaders who adhere to these ungodly concepts. Is it possible to conceive that they would be party to a plot to kill someone who speaks the truth of Jesus Christ?
How outlandish is that! Surely, none of these woke pastors would consent to helping others who wanted to murder someone who was only proclaiming the Gospel. Simply wouldn’t happen – right?
Perhaps not today at this very moment. But, a time is coming when such things could very well occur. Once the Rapture happens and Christ’s Bride is snatched from this world, those left behind will embrace the unrestrained lawlessness that will result with the removal of the Holy Spirit. Do not doubt that a great number remaining here on earth will be those very pastors and religious authorities who embraced the woke gospel and not the true Gospel.
In the time to follow the Rapture, a great revival of faith in Jesus Christ will occur. It will anger many because it will go against their current narrative, whatever that may look like. At that time, little will restrain them and their evil desires. Many plans will be made to annihilate the huge numbers of men and women turning to the Lord Jesus. Wolves who lead faux churches will be ravenous. They will justify violence in the interest of supposedly serving God. In reality, they will be serving His enemy.
Let us not suppose that accounts like we see in the Bible are isolated to past times. History – and Biblical history – have a way of repeating themselves or foreshadowing that which is to come. The parallels of what happened previously are more numerous that we may initially think.
When you read the Word of God, consider things past and those to come. In doing so, you will gain much insight into both the human condition and to how God operates: to what really matters to Him.