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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 22: Paul Appeals to Caesar.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

Paul was weary of strife, weary of the fierce reiteration of charges, again and again refuted, and as often renewed. His active spirit could ill endure the repeated delays and wearing suspense of his trial and imprisonment. How repulsive to him had been the daily contact with [p. 250] the coarse, idle, unprincipled soldiery, the frequent sounds of contention, and the rumors of strife and bloodshed between Jew and Gentile. He had nothing more to hope for from Jewish priests or rulers; but as a Roman citizen he had one special privilege, he could appeal to Caesar, and for a time, at least, his enemies would be kept at bay.

To the governor's question, Paul made answer, I stand at Caesar's tribunal. Here, and not before the Sanhedrim, I ought to be judged. Turning to the procurator, he appealed to him directly: Even you, Festus, are convinced that no charges have been sustained against me. I have never in any respect wronged the Jews. If I have committed any crime, it is not against them, but against the emperor; and if found guilty, I do not refuse to die. But if the accusations they bring against me cannot be proved, no one can give me into their power as a favor. I appeal unto Caesar.

Festus knew nothing of the conspiracies of the Jews to murder Paul, and he was surprised at this appeal to Caesar. It was not flattering to the pride of the Roman procurator, that the first case brought before him should be thus referred to higher authority. However, the words of the apostle put a stop to the proceedings of the court. Felix held a brief consultation with his counsel, and all agreeing that the appeal was legally admissible, he said to the prisoner: "Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go." This was said in a tone and manner which seemed to imply that Paul little knew what an appeal to Caesar meant.

Once more the hatred born of Jewish bigotry and self-righteousness had driven the servant of [p. 251] God to turn for protection to a heathen ruler. It was the same hatred that forced the prophet Elijah to flee for succor to the widow of Sarepta; that constrained the heralds of the gospel to proclaim their message to the Gentiles. It is the same spirit that the people of God in this age have yet to meet. In the great crisis through which they are soon to pass, they will become better acquainted with the experience of Paul. Among the professed followers of Christ, there is the same pride, formalism, vainglory, selfishness, and oppression, that existed in the Jewish nation. Before the warfare shall be ended and the victory won, we as a people are to experience trials similar to those of Paul. We shall encounter the same hardness of heart, the same cruel determination, the same unyielding hatred.

Men professing to be representatives of Christ will take a course similar to that taken by priests and rulers in their treatment of Paul. All who would fearlessly serve God according to the dictates of their own conscience, will need moral courage, firmness, and a knowledge of God and his word, to stand in that evil day. Persecution will again be kindled against those who are true to God; their motives will be impugned, their best efforts misinterpreted, their names cast out as evil. Then will it come to pass, as foretold by Christ, that whoever shall seek to destroy the faithful, will think that he is doing God service. Then Satan will work with all his fascinating power, to influence the heart and becloud the understanding, to make evil appear good, and good evil. Then it is that he is through his agents to "show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." [p. 252]

God would have his people prepared for the soon-coming crisis. Prepared or unprepared, we must all meet it. Only those whose characters are thoroughly disciplined to meet the divine standard will be able to stand firm in that testing time. But when enemies shall be on every side, watching them for evil, the God of Heaven will be watching his precious jewels for good. When secular rulers unite with the ministers of religion to come between God and our conscience, then those who cherish the fear of God will be revealed. When the darkness is deepest, then the light of a noble, Godlike character will shine the brightest. When every other trust fails, then it will be seen who have an abiding trust in God.

The stronger and purer the faith of God's people, and the firmer their determination to obey him, the more will Satan stir up the rage of those who claim to be righteous, while they trample upon the law of God. In that coming emergency, rulers and magistrates will not interpose in behalf of God's people. There will be a corrupt harmony with all who have not been obedient to the law of God. In that day, all time-servers, all who have not the genuine work of grace in the heart, will be found wanting. It will require the firmest trust, the most heroic purpose, to hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

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