(Acts 22:1-21) Have you ever been in a situation where you have been speaking to someone and they just did not believe what you were saying, even when it is the utter truth? Or worse, they chose not to even listen? Have you ever tried to speak to someone about something good (e.g. The gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ for instance), and it was as if they had fingers in both ears and saying, “Lah…Lah…Lah…Lah.” so they could not even hear your words?
Well, when Paul made his defense to the people in Jerusalem after the mob caught him and beat him it was as if this were happening. He spoke to them telling them what had happened to him and they listened up to a point and then just ignored and shouted him down. And often when such a thing happens to us we are amazed and confused and baffled why they “just don’t get it.” So let’s have a look at this scenario that Paul went through and what the bible says about it to us.
Paul had been captured by the mob and was being severely beaten until the roman authorities came and physically dragged him from the crowd. As he was being taken to the soldiers barracks Paul asked the tribune if he could address the people to make a plea of defense to them, which the tribune permitted. Paul spoke to the people in the Hebrew language which calmed them down as many thought he was a foreign troublemaker. Then Paul gave an account of his life and how he was brought up amongst the Jews. He spoke of how he was raised in the strictest disciplines of Judaism and educated in the ways of the law at the feet of Gamaliel, who was a highly respected and wise teacher of the law. He explained how he was zealous for the ways of the Jews and the law to the point where he hunted down and imprisoned the early Christians. He travelled far and wide with the authority of the Jewish elders to bind, persecute and imprison the Christians even approving the stoning of Stephen.
So having established his bona fides he then went on to explain how he was converted from persecuting the Gospel to actively following, preaching and teaching it. He explained how he was travelling to Damascus to wreak more havoc amongst the Christians when The Lord appeared to him on the way, striking him blind and explaining what he was to do. He was told to go to Damascus, seek out Ananias who baptised him and laid hands on him to receive the Holy Spirit. The people listened to Paul attentively as he told his story in defense of his changed way of life. But they shouted him down when he said in verse 21,
And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
The Jews under their law had nothing to do with Gentiles. They could not even imagine The Lord saying to anyone to go to the Gentiles. As far as they were concerned, the Jews classed all other peoples as less than second class citizens. The gentile nations to them were unclean, uncouth and without God. Thus when Paul said that The Lord had told him to go to the Gentiles, they were horrified and rejected both Paul and what he was saying. They effectively refused to listen anymore, as though they were blocking their ears and shouting over the top of him so they could not hear anything else he had to say. Paul may have been astounded at this, although we are not told as much. But when you see someone make a complete 180 degree turnaround, surely they must have wondered how and why this occurred. At least you would think so. You would think they might wonder what dramatic events had occurred to so drastically change a person to go to the complete opposite of what they were doing. But these people chose instead to reject and not listen.
They Will Not Listen
But Paul was probably not surprised as he had been warned of this imprisonment and even before this time when he had first been converted he was told that the people in Jerusalem would not accept what he had to say. We see in verses 17-18,
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
So Paul was well aware that the people would not listen for The Lord had told him as much right from the beginning of his walk with Jesus.
Today every person on the earth has the opportunity to hear The Lord and the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But like the days of Paul there will be many who will not listen. Every person has a choice and it is my opinion (i.e. This is not written in the bible) that the primary purpose of this life we are given is to do one thing and one thing only. Life has been given to us to make a choice. Every person is born under the power of sin and subject to the ruler of this world, who is Satan. But we do not have to remain under his rule. The choice we all have to make is whether we will continue to walk in the ways of this world, which are the ways of the devil, or whether we will choose to reject the world and accept Jesus Christ as our saviour. Those are the two choices. There are no others. If we reject the call of Jesus and choose to go the way of the world, then we have this life only. But if we choose to follow Jesus and live according to His ways, then the quality of life here and now improves because we are given the gifts of God to help us find joy, peace, love, and a balance now, PLUS the promise of eternal life in the future where there is no evil, no sickness, no death. It is my opinion that we are given this life to decide whether we want the REAL life that is on offer or just this transitory, temporal life that leads to nothing in the end. But as in Paul’s day, many will not listen. They will refuse to listen, and like the people of Jerusalem did to Paul, will abuse those who try to offer them the knowledge of the way to a better life. What is worse, the last days those who refuse to listen to the truth will be deluded to accept what is false. We are shown this in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 which says,
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
When the man of sin appears, as spoken of in the prophet Daniel, people who choose to reject The Lord will accept his false religion and thus will be condemned with him to eternal destruction. They will not listen because they choose not to listen. They will reject the truth because it will show them up as being wrong. They will accept the lies of the evil one because it makes compromises and makes allowances for and even regards evil as good, rejecting the truth. And this evil is alive and growing today. We see it in the news in the way political correctness accepts wrong as being right. We see it in the movies and television shows accepting witches, magic and such as being good things. We see it in the way television exults and rejoices in the evil of this world by making movies about real life villains and holding them up as something good. We see it in the works of big business who care nothing for people but only for how to make more money, casting aside people as scrap for the sake of a fatter profit line. And people are being sucked in by all of these things. They will not listen to the truth and it will get worse. They are waiting for and expecting governments to save them from the economic and financial disasters, the criminal actions and so on of the world and yet the politicians do not have the faintest idea how to tackle such things. The answers to all these problems and more is in Jesus. It is ONLY in Jesus that true salvation can be found. But they will not listen and so they go to destruction. Do not be part of them for that way leads to damnation. Listen to Jesus. Listen to the words of the bible and find and save your life through Him. (Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Mateusz Stachowski)