Thursday, July 11, 2013

Held in Readiness (Acts 21:1-14)

“Whether it was two days or a month or a longer time that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, dwelling on it, the Israelites remained encamped; but when it was taken up, they journeyed.  At the command of the Lord they remained encamped; but when it was taken up, they journeyed.”  (Num 9:22-23, Amplified)

Acts 21:1-14 (where we’ve been in Tentmakers) has the same flavor as these verses out of the book of Numbers.  In the wilderness, the Israelites never had to question the direction of the Holy Spirit; they could see it visibly with their eyes.  As Paul’s third missionary journey draws to a close, Luke makes sure to credit the Holy Spirit with the schedule and pace Paul’s missionary group is keeping.  They traveled quickly from Miletus to Tyre, with the Spirit-directed intention of “going to Jerusalem” (Acts 20:22).  But at Tyre, the Spirit tarried.  Although Paul couldn’t visibly see a cloud by day and a fire by night as the Israelites did in the wilderness, he recognized the authority of the Holy Spirit in the pleadings of the disciples at Tyre when they begged him not go to Jerusalem (Num 9:16).

When the Spirit was taken up from Tyre, Paul and his group moved on to Caesarea where the Spirit again encamped for a short time – long enough for a prophet to come to them, once again confirming that Paul would suffer at Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-11).  To those traveling with Paul, this prophecy gave them cause to again beg Paul not go to Jerusalem.  The difference was that – unlike at Tyre – the Holy Spirit was not prompting their pleas.  In fact, He was lifting again, heading toward Jerusalem … and Paul knew it.

As we read into verse 13, Paul’s response to the desperation of his friends really strikes a chord with me.  He told them that he held himself “in readiness not only to be arrested and bound and imprisoned, but also [even] to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  Ouch … What am I holding myself in readiness for?  What about you?  Depending on the culture/society from which you’re reading this, you may or may not be facing imprisonment or immediate death “for the name of the Lord Jesus,” but we – as the body of Christ – must all hold ourselves in readiness to move at the direction of the Holy Spirit.  When and where He tarries, we tarry, and when and where He moves, we move.  The question is not if He’s directing you, but Now What or where is the Holy Spirit leading you?  Hold yourself in readiness for the Lord; His "will be done!” (Acts 21:14).

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