BIBLE READING: ACTS 23
9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
No one could ever accuse Paul of being afraid of confrontation. Of all the zeal Paul had displayed when fighting against Christ, it paled in comparison to the zeal that he displayed for Christ. The scene in this passage is utter chaos. You have the Pharisees arguing with the Sadducees, and then you have both along with the chief priest accusing Paul. Things became so violent that the chief priest was concerned that Paul would be torn to pieces. Let me stop right here and make a comment. These are supposed to be religious men, the so-called spiritual leaders. What a testimony for religious men. Arguing, fighting, and shoving. Unfortunately, sometimes Christians do not act like Christians. Sometimes men of God are not very godly men.
As Paul is taken into the residence of the chief priest, we have an intimate look at the love, compassion, and concern of our Lord. “The night following the Lord stood by him.” I’m not sure why, but when you are facing trials in your life, nighttime is the hardest. Maybe because everything has stopped, and you have nothing but time to think about the situation. It feels as if everyone else is sleeping while you are troubled with your trials. But if you dive into God’s Word, and call out in desperation to Him, that is the time when you feel the Lord quietly slipping His comforting arms around your confused heart and mind. That is when you experience firsthand that the Lord ‘stands by you’. That is when you have the sweet times of fellowship with the Great Comforter.
Here is Paul at night. No one else is with him except for Satan and the Savior. Isn’t it great to know that wherever we are the Lord is there with us? I’m sure Satan was recalling to Paul’s mind how much better it was to be on the other end of persecution. How cushioned Paul’s life was, and how awarded he was for his accomplishments. And what had all this becoming a believer done? It had landed him in a mess. I’m sure Satan had a long list of things that he was passionately trying to proclaim to Paul. Meanwhile, the Lord had a precise yet powerful proclamation of His own. “Be of good cheer, Paul.” I think even as meaningful as what the Lord has to say, is the fact that He is there to say it. We are never alone. He’s always with us. Paul I’m sure recalled the suffering that Stephen went through as he remained faithful, and I’m sure Paul even rehearsed the suffering that Jesus went through on the cross. Surely Paul could stay faithful through this. I encourage you today, whatever trials you are facing, “be of good cheer”.