One of the promises of The Lord is that He will give us a protection that is not afforded to the people of the world. When the people of the world get into trouble they do not have a safety net to catch them if they fall. But The Lord is the safety net for Christians.
Depending on the circumstance or the issue facing the Christian, the nature of the protection afforded may be quite different, but it is always there. There is always a means of protection given by The Lord for his people.
In this section of scripture we see two of those methods of protection that The Lord gave to Paul and how they worked to achieve the will of God in Paul’s life.
Protection from Unknown Dangers
Paul had been in prison in Caesarea for a couple years when a new governor, Festus was appointed. The outgoing governor, Felix, had left Paul in prison to do the Jews a favour.
Whether the Jews had somehow ingratiated themselves with the governors or the governors offered favours for the purpose of keeping the peace we do not know. For we see also that Festus later wanted to do the Jews a favour also, which makes his actions rather unusual when it came time to consider Paul’s case.
The Jews asked for Paul to be brought to Jerusalem so the case could be heard, not that they intended to hear the case but so they could complete a plot to kill Paul on the journey. However Festus replied saying that he was going to Caesarea shortly and that the Jews should accompany him and his entourage and he would considers he case down there.
Now this is odd for two reasons. It would be more normal to transfer a prisoner to court rather than take the court to the prisoner, and secondly the fact already mentioned that the governor sought to do favours for the Jewish leaders and yet denied this favour. Had he acceded to the request of the Jews Paul would have been ambushed and been killed.
It is clear that The Lord had His hand in this matter for the situation and the unfolding of this event is quite odd. Paul could not have known at he time the events and discussions that took place between Festus and the Jews and so it can only be the hand of The Lord guiding the events so that the unseen danger of the planned ambush and murder would not happen.
A Way of Escape
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13 the following words.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
He is talking about temptation but this principle applies also in many other situations. When we are tested and tried through temptation and the desires of our flesh, as well as the trials that come from outside and the fiery ordeals that come upon us from time to time, The Lord provides a way of escape to enable us to get through whatever the situation is. This too is a way that The Lord ensures we have a level of protection not afforded to the people of the world.
We see this form of protection in the situation Paul found himself as the Jews made many false claims and charges against him which they could not prove or justify. They were charging him with things that would have incurred sever punishments if they were true, but they were not. As Paul himself said in reply to the charges of the Jews in verse 8,
Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”
Festus was clearly confounded by the accusations and Paul’s response. He would have seen vehement charges flung by the Jews but the calm strength of Paul in the knowledge of his innocence and his reliance on The Lord to carry him through this kangaroo court.
We then see the way of escape provided by the planning of The Lord in his selection of Paul and the offer made to him by Festus.
Festus again sought to do the Jews a favour and said in verse 9,
But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?”
It is these words that set in motion the protection of The Lord. When Jesus selected Paul to do his ministry and take the gospel to the Gentiles, He knew that Paul was a roman citizen. Paul had already once used his citizenship to escape a beating and would now use it again. We see his response in verses 10-11,
10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
Here is the way of escape that was provided by the pre-planning of The Lord. Paul was a roman citizen standing before the Roman governor in a roman prison and a roman court. Thus he made the point that under the circumstances he should not be sent to a different (Jewish) court but should be tried as a roman citizen and so he rightly appealed to a higher authority, Caesar.
This was the way of escape that was provided with the testing. As Paul wrote later to the Corinthian church as quoted in the scripture above, The Lord provides a way of escape so that we can endure the temptation and testing that come against us. The Lord had previously told Paul he would stand and preach the gospel in Rome and here we see the mechanism by which that would take effect as well as keeping him safe from the violence planned by the Jews, and as a prisoner would provide a roman guard to protect him as he was transported to Rome.
A truly astounding solution when you consider it and one that was devised and planned not by Paul, but by the direct planning and intervention of The Lord. His ways and His timing are perfect and His plans will be established.
So we see there is a way of escape included in the temptation and trials that come against us. And it is the same today as it was for Paul back then. There is ALWAYS a way of escape that The Lord provides which we can follow to find our way through the temptation.
Sometimes it is prayer, sometimes it is support of a physical nature. But there is always a way of escape when we look for it and rely on The Lord to show us.
And that is the key. When we need to escape we need to seek The Lord and rest in His strength to show us the way. We may not always know the path, but it will be there and when His timing is right it will open up to us so that we can endure the road ahead as we walk the path of escape.
I should mention also that the way of escape Paul describes in the 1 Corinthains 10:13 scripture quoted above does not mean that we will not have to go through the temptation or testing. The way of escape allows us to endure as we go through the process. It is endurance that teaches us and makes us stronger as we stand against the temptations and testings that come against us to try and prove us.
So when you are suffering under testing and temptation, seek The Lord and find the way of escape to endure. It will be there for The Lord promised to provide this protection so we are not cast down.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Carl Dwyer)
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