to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
November 01, 2019 – Friday
Acts 21:23-25 NIV
23 –[S]o do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow.
24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.
25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”
Paul has returned to Jerusalem and given a very positive report on what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. (v19) They praised God for this then reported to Paul thousands of Jews had come to believe and all of them are zealous for the law. (v20) This was a problem because21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come.
This is what brings us to our verses for today, there were believers who thought Paul was teaching against the law, disobedience to the law, for Jews which clearly was not true. He was teaching Jewish circumcision and other Jewish customs were not required for Gentiles as and instead they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. How was Paul to resolve this problem.
The solution was given as noted above for Paul to show his allegiance to the law with four young Jewish Christian men who were involved in a Nazirite vow. Paul did not hesitate to resolve the issue and 26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them. His dedication to the truth was beyond question for believers.
That did not matter to those opposed to the new faith and 27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.) Amazingly Roman soldiers saved Paul from being beaten to death. They arrested him somewhat to protect him and somewhat to figure out what was going on.
As they were taking him to jail, Paul asked for and received permission to speak to the crowd and he did so in Aramaic. He spoke to them of his history as a persecutor of Christians until he had a dramatic meeting with Jesus as he neared Damascus. They listened until he spoke of the directions he received from Jesus. 21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
The crowd then again wanted him put to death where he would have been flogged but the Romans found out he was a Roman citizen. So the next day he released him and had him address the priests and the Sanhedrin including the Sadducees (in chapter 23). At the end of his speech to them they once again wanted to kill him and the Roman soldiers once again saved him. While in the Roman barracks 11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
The unusual circumstances of Paul’s protection was clearly the Lord’s doing who now had new directions for him. What are the directions God has for you and for me? Are you asking? Listening? Praying? Worshiping?
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)