A few days later [Governor] Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, sent for Paul and listened to him talk about a life of believing in Jesus Christ. As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people, about a life of moral discipline and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort and dismissed him. "That’s enough for today. I’ll call you back when it’s convenient." At the same time he was secretly hoping that Paul would offer him a substantial bribe. These conversations were repeated frequently. Acts 24:24-26 (TM)
The American Civil War was a long, bloody affair. It might have ended much sooner and cost far fewer lives were it not for a man named General George McClellan. McClellan was the Major General of the Union Army through the first two years of the war. He had a force the vastly out numbered the Confederate Army and had multiple opportunities to crush his enemy. But, he refused to act. Many times President Lincoln pressed McClellan and ordered McClellan to march on the enemy, but the Major General always had an excuse for why it was a bad idea. Lincoln eventually replaced McClellan saying, "If General McClellan is not going to use the Army, I would like to borrow it for a time."
I love history. I find the stories of people like George McClellan fascinating. I learn how people lived, acted and responded to the circumstances of their day. It helps give me a context for how I, and others, act and respond to circumstances in my own time.
There’s a parallel to reading God’s message there. You can read a chapter a day and get many lessons from it. However, each chapter was not written to stand alone. The chapter is part of the whole of the book. The book is part of the whole of scripture. While we can glean truth from the chapter each day, there is more truth to be gleaned from knowing the context in which it fits.
As I read today’s chapter about Paul’s two years of imprisonment under Felix and his opportunities to share God’s message with the governor and his wife, I can’t help remember what I read two chapters ago, when Paul’s friends begged him not to go to Jerusalem. They feared he would be killed or arrested. If you remember, Paul answered, "The issue in Jerusalem is not what they do to me, whether arrest or murder, but what the Master Jesus does through my obedience. Can’t you see that?"
Here we are two chapters later and Paul’s obedience has resulted in the unique opportunity to be a consistent witness to the governor and his wife! It’s great to ready about this event, but even greater lesson knowing that it happened because of Paul’s prior obedience to God’s command.