Today's Bible Reading: Acts 24
Selected Biblical Text
But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, "When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case." Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, "Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you." At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. (Acts 24:22-27 ESV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Paul's journey to Caesarea protects him from some Jews with evil intentions but accomplishes little else except to put him in a new location for another hearing. After five days, Ananias the high priest, some Jewish elders, and an orator named Tertullian arrive in Caesarea from Jerusalem to accuse Paul. Paul is allowed to speak for himself in his defense. Felix has an awareness of Christianity and quickly sees that there are no serious charges against Paul. But Felix was also a politician who desired to appease both sides. Rather than deciding the case immediately, he put it off while waiting for a Roman authority to come and verify the events. Paul was given liberty to receive visitors but Felix left Paul in prison to appease the Jews. On at least one occasion, Felix sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Jesus -- a message which apparently touched Felix's conscience. The text says that it was because Felix hoped to receive money from Paul that Paul remained in prison for two years, frequently conversing with Felix. After two years, Felix was replaced by Festus.
Today's text provides a good example of a time when God's plans and purposes unfolded slowly. God had already told Paul what would be the outcome. Two years is a long time to wait in prison with no relief in sight. It must be hard to wait when it is apparent that no one is working very seriously to move the case forward. How do you think Paul felt about the periodic conversations with Felix? Did he see an opportunity? Did he feel used? Did he tire of the routine? When have you had to wait for God to unfold the next phase of his plan for your life? Was it easy or hard?
Heavenly Father, our human nature seems to push us forward constantly. We want things to happen; we are impatient. It is hard to imagine what Paul experienced as he waited for Felix to act for an entire two years. Teach us your ways. Help us through this day as we wait for you; help us act when opportunities come. In the name of Jesus the Christ, Amen.