All in the Family

The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than forty of them in the conspiracy. They went to the leading priests and elders and told them, “We have bound ourselves with an oath to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. So you and the high council should ask the commander to bring Paul back to the council again. Pretend you want to examine his case more fully. We will kill him on the way.”

But Paul’s nephew—his sister’s son—heard of their plan and went to the fortress and told Paul. Paul called for one of the Roman officers and said, “Take this young man to the commander. He has something important to tell him.” (Acts 23:12–17)

Not one assassin but forty of them! Forty determined terrorists, operating under cover of secrecy. All of them vowing, "We will not eat or drink until we've killed him." The plan was treacherous and set in motion by those who wanted him dead. What they hadn't counted on was an unlikely ally for Paul. His nephew had overheard everything and made tracks to warn his uncle.

Remarkably, Paul's nephew plays a major role in his survival. He is not mentioned by name, and we never hear of him again. Then how did he know about the ambush? Only God knows.

Meanwhile, the Roman commander was feeling relieved, proud of his wise handling of the situation. His musings were interrupted by a reluctant knock at the door. The news couldn't be good. One of his centurions reports that the young man with him has some important information about a conspiracy to kill Paul. The Roman commander wasn't about to let some scrappy band of fanatics spoil his plan to bring Paul safely to Rome. So he pulled out all the stops.

Uniformed, armed, and trained soldiers. Four hundred and seventy-two to forty rag-tag conspirators. Nice odds. Talk about overkill. The guy would not be outdone. He made sure no one could get to Paul. Remember God's promise? "You must witness at Rome." This is just part of that divine plan. It was as if God said, "I know what I am doing. I will escort you down to Caesarea by the Sea with full protection. You are in My hand." A massive official escort—that would work just fine.

What a comforting story. Despite the odds stacked against him, Paul was never removed from God's protective hand. And neither are you.

Are you feeling alone, mistreated, misunderstood, forsaken? Remember this true account. God is at work. He's there, working behind the scenes. He'll work it out. He has a plan. Just when you're convinced the bottom is about to drop out from under you, He steps in and lifts you to safety. For Paul, he used an unlikely and virtually anonymous ally, a nameless nephew who comes out of the shadows at precisely the right time. God's timing is always perfectly synchronized with His will. Remember that. And be comforted.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. www.harpercollinschristian.com

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