Last night an angel of God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar and God has given you the lives of all who sail with you’ ~ Acts 27:23
Caught in a storm at sea, Paul and other prisoners in a ship heading to Rome are staring disaster on the face. Paul, passes them a message he receives from the angel and urges them to keep their courage and that they will be saved from the storm. As I read the Chapter, my human mind does not appreciate that the men will be saved, but is disturbed by the fact that in the midst of a storm, the angel of God delivers more devastating news to Paul- that he must stand trial.
Before being caught in the storm, Paul had stood trial before the Sanhedrin Council, before Felix the Governor, released and recaptured again after two years and stood trial before Festus the new Governor, then stood before King Agrippa who sends him aboard a ship in shackles to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. On his way, he encounters a devastating storm and a shipwreck. I think that after facing the storm, God would at least cut him some slack. Besides, he had stood numerous trials before.
Paul was accused of being ‘a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ring leader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple…’ (24: v5-6). Paul, preaching the Gospel of the resurrected Christ to the Jews and Gentiles and its message of faith which replaced the law and the Jewish customs was viewed as a threat. In that regard, the Jews accused him.
Paul, having faced numerous trials and an impending one seems unbothered because the Lord himself had told him, ‘Take Courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so must you also testify in Rome’ (23: v11). Heeding to God, Paul appeals to be brought to Caesar in Rome for trial and the governor Festus grants it, ‘You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you will go!’ (25: v12).
In an ironic twist, when Paul arrives in Rome, no one knows that he should even stand trial! ‘We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you’ (28: v21). In a jaw dropping fashion, instead of standing trial before Caesar, ‘for two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Acts 28:30-31).
I am surprised, no trial? Did the angel lie then? Definitely not! God is not a liar. The Spirit revealed to me that at no point does God ever proclaim doom on His children. He commands His angels to only bring good tidings. When ‘trial’ for Jews meant excommunication for Paul, ‘trial’ for God meant freedom for Paul and the spread of the Gospel. Not that God confuses us with inverted terminologies but uses what was meant for evil for our good.
When the word ‘trial’ seems to give a negative connotation, God turns it around. Unbeknown to Paul who thought that he would proclaim the Gospel in Rome in shackles, God exceeds his expectations. Maybe that’s why Paul writes, ‘in all things, God works for the good’ (Romans 8:28). I ultimately saw that regardless of our present circumstances, we should trust every word from God- whose we belong because He is a good Father with only good proclamations for us. And that is why, like Paul, all we have to do is obey and stick with God until the end no matter the storms that comes our way.