One Phone Call

One Phone Call
Words of Faith 8-25-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Acts 28
[17] Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: "My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. [18] They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. [19] But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar--not that I had any charge to bring against my own people. [20] For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain."
[21] They replied, "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. [22] But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect."

Paul was finally in Rome, the political center of world power and the location of the biggest trial of his life.
Miraculously, Paul was placed under a sort of house arrest whereby by could stay in his own rented apartment with a soldier to guard him. He likely wore a shackle on his wrist but he could receive visitors and friends. It took him three days to unpack and settle in. Why? Can you imagine unpacking with a soldier chained to your arm?
So what was the first call Paul made? Paul's first order of business was to make contact not with the Christian community, which might support him, but with the Jewish community. Paul called together the Jewish leaders to defend his cause before them. This may have been partly to prevent them from making accusations against Paul before the court of Caesar. But mostly Paul wanted to make it known that it was "because of the hope of Israel" that he was bound with a chain.
The Jewish leaders in Rome claimed to know very little about Paul or the Christian movement. This is surprising because about 10 years earlier the Emperor Claudius had driven Jews and Christians out of Rome because of riots that had broken out between them. The Jewish leaders likely knew a great deal about Christianity but they had only been allowed back into the city a few years earlier. Essentially, they did not want to get involved for fear of further political repercussions. This at least made them open to Paul who was clearly a fellow Jew.
Paul had another reason for calling Jewish leaders to his flat before contacting anyone else. The Jewish people were always his first love. Everywhere that Paul went, he spoke first in the synagogue and then to the Gentiles. Paul, "the Apostle to the Gentiles", never ceased to long for his people to know their Messiah.
If Paul were to travel through time and arrive on the Christian scene today he would probably not be too surprised that Judaism officially rejects Jesus as their Messiah, rejects the New Testament, and largely rejects Christianity. He experienced that same rejection. Paul would be surprised at the reluctance of Christians to share with Jewish friends the news about the coming of their Messiah. For Paul, the Christian faith always began with Jesus as the hope of Israel.
The book of Acts begins with the preaching of this truth to Jews from all of the world gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost and ends with Paul proclaiming the truth of Christ to Jews in Rome.
Paul's consistent witness challenges us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, pray for the Jewish people, and pray for opportunities to simply give witness to the saving grace of the Jewish Messiah that we have experienced. Those are doors that we cannot open ourselves but they are doors we must not close when God opens them.

Lord God, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I pray for the Gospel to be heard in the heart of Israel. I pray that You will use me. Open the doors to witness that I cannot open myself. In Jesus' name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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