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Don't Go to Jerusalem

By Gene Freeman
 
Friday, March 26, 2010

Scripture Verses
Acts 21:1-36

On to Jerusalem
 1After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara. 2We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail. 3After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo. 4Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. 6After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.

 7We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day. 8Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

 10After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.' "

 12When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done."

 15After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. 16Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.

Paul's Arrival at Jerusalem

 17When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. 18The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. 19Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

 20When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21They 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. 22What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. 25As 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."

 26The 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.

Paul Arrested

 27When 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, 28shouting, "Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area 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 area.)

 30The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

 33The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. 35When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36The crowd that followed kept shouting, "Away with him!"


Devotion
In the chapter before the selected reading Paul tells his friends But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. 23I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead.” ( The Message) This tells us the compulsion the Paul was under. To go to Jerusalem was a desire put in him by the Holy Spirit. He wasn’t going on a sight seeing trip for he had seen Jerusalem many times. He wasn’t going to confer with the church leaders, for he had done that many times before also. He felt compelled, directed to go to Jerusalem.

As you read the passage you can’t help but draw a comparison to when Jesus also felt drawn to go to Jerusalem.  He also told his friends what He was going to do but here is a difference. At first  disciples tried to get Jesus to turn away from this trip, but finally gave in to Jesus’ s determined path and went along with him.

In this passage we find people telling Paul what is going to happen to him if he goes to Jerusalem.  Some told him not go to Jerusalem and others warned him he would be arrested.   Some feared he would be tied up and some people even tried to stop the trip. The difference is that after these warnings for his personal safety and the urgings  for him to stay, they gave their blessing to him and prayed for him. The guidance of the Holy Spirit  was what they followed, not their own desires. 

What does this have to do with our trip to Jerusalem? Oh, yes, we are all on a trip to our NEW JERUSALEM(Rev 21 10He carried me away in the Spirit to a large, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. ) and we will encounter people that will be saying:
   You are headed for trouble.
      Times will be tough if you keep on this course--or a myriad of other things to slow our Christian walk.
Paul, like Jesus, remained committed to do God’s will and go to Jerusalem and so must we.

Jeremiah 29:11 (GWT)
I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.

When we are walking the path to the New Jerusalem(Heaven) the Holy Spirit is there with us. So when we hear people giving us warnings, He will also give us people that are praying for us and giving us the blessings. Keeping our eyes on Jesus and the path to do the will of God. No one ever said it would be easy; but we go there anyway, steadfast and loyal.


Prayer
Father God. We thank you for the Holy Spirit that comforts and guides us on our walk to your New Jerusalem and for the Church that gives us guidance and for friends that support us. May we also be one that supports and uplifts others on their walk. Amen