I hope that you have seen how in the darkest moments of Paul’s life, the Lord was near and encouraging him by assuring him that his purposes and promises will not fail. Paul will testify of Jesus in Rome.
Two texts of Scripture came to my mind as I thought about the hope that I found from the events we just read. The first passage refers to God’s grace and compassion toward His children, knowing that we are frail and fallible:
The Lord is compassionate and merciful;
he is patient and demonstrates great loyal love.
He does not always accuse,
and does not stay angry.
He does not deal with us as our sins deserve;
he does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve.
For as the skies are high above the earth,
so his loyal love towers over his faithful followers.
As far as the eastern horizon is from the west,
so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on his faithful followers.
For he knows what we are made of;
he realizes we are made of clay —Psalm 103:8-14
Do you see this in our Lord’s gentle dealings with Paul in our text? Have we experienced it in His tender mercies toward us? Fallible men should be comforted to know that God deals graciously with His children.
Romans 15:4 says:
“For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope” —Romans 15:4
Paul is obviously talking about the Old Testament Scriptures here. He says that the whole Old Testament instructs us and encourages us so we would have hope. How can this be? As far as man is concerned, the Old Testament gives us a clear and simple assessment that can be summed up in one word: FAILURE. Even the best of men failed badly. So far as what the Old Testament teaches us about God, we can sum that up in one word: FAITHFUL. Although men fail, God is faithful. That is what we just saw in this chapter as well. I was reading in Nehemiah this week, and I came to the ninth chapter. Here Nehemiah confesses his sins and the sins of his people by reviewing Israel’s history, citing case after case where God was faithful in spite of Israel’s failures (Go read it. It is a great read).
I have gained a refreshing and exciting appreciation for what we refer to as the Old Testament. (Read my studies on the Torah to find our more). Now I see how the Old Testament can be an encouragement to the Christian, inspiring hope and endurance. The Old Testament is constantly reminding us that God is faithful—despite the times, we fail. That is what this chapter teaches us as well.
Here is some news: For those who have not trusted in Jesus as God’s only provision for the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of living forever in His presence. How foolish it was to resist and oppose the gospel. In the end, it didn’t work. The more men opposed Paul and the gospel, the more it spread. Some, who opposed Him, like Paul, were stopped in their tracks and converted to faith in Jesus. Others, like Ananias (ten years later) and Herod (Acts 12) came to a violent end, and then spent eternity in hell. Resisting Christ and His offer of salvation is choosing eternal death (hell) over eternal life (heaven).
“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God” [God’s not the one condemning you—you are!] —John 3:16-18