Acts 22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
Ecclesiastes1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Solomon is the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes. He was one of the wisest men to ever live. He was granted wisdom by God as a young king. He soon forsook that great gift that was given him. He exchanged the wisdom of God for the lust of the flesh and allowed his many wives and concubines to turn his heart away from God. That was certainly not a good choice for him, nor for the nation of Israel.
During his declining years, God directed him to write the book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter 1:9 he stated that there is no new thing under the sun. We know that the history of the nation of Israel was somewhat like a roller coaster ride. The northern tribes never had a godly king and thus they were on a downward spiral for the duration of that nation. The southern tribes had some godly kings and some that were not godly. The people lacked any real sense of conviction and they were easily swayed by what ever king they had. The people had no firm anchor and the kings were not very well grounded either.
God sent them many prophets who declared to the people: “thus saith the LORD”. Yet the people and the kings never really grasped the importance of acknowledging this important fact. In the New Testament time, Israel did not have a king on the throne. Jesus Christ came as the incarnate Son of God. He presented Himself as the king of the Jews, but He was rejected by His own people. He did not campaign and He did not send out ballots and wait for the people to vote for Him. He presented Himself as the king and shortly after that He was arrested and tried and crucified.
God never works through democracy. He gives people the option to choose to follow Him or not, but He never accepts “people rule”. God is always in charge. He allows man to make choices, but He limits the effects of those choices. He has a plan and His will is still for all to come to repentance. He will not force anyone to repent. He will not force anyone to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, He does show each generation that it is extremely foolish to reject Him and choose some other ruler.
In the verses we are going to spend some time on we see that the apostle Paul faced various challenges in his life as an apostle. Paul started out as a lost man by the name of Saul. He was groomed as a Pharisee. He sat under the best of the Pharisaical teachers. He was a very zealous man for the cause. He was wrong, but he put his best effort into ‘being good at being wrong’.
God demonstrated His love for Saul in giving him many opportunities to see that he was going the wrong way, but Saul was quite stubborn and self-willed and it took some time for him to see that he was in fact fighting a losing battle against God. Thankfully he did come to see that reality.
Acts 9 records the conversion of Saul. It happened in a way that Saul never expected. He was confronted one more time with the reality that he was going the wrong way and that he could not win against the true God. Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, like another man by the same name who was chosen by God as the first king of the nation of Israel. King Saul was also given many opportunities to see that he was fighting a losing battle against God. He lost that battle. He tried so hard to build a legacy that would keep him in the good books of the people, but he failed miserably. He never allowed God to exalt him. He had his own plans and God was supposed to take a back seat and just be handy when Saul decided he wanted Him. That never works.
The apostle Paul listened to God and responded in the only way that could give him success. He responded in the only way that he could prosper, as we noted from Psalm 1. Paul was a genuine convert. He was miraculously changed. He was a zealous man prior to salvation and he was a zealous man after salvation. However, after salvation he was zealous for the things of God. He wanted others to know the true God. He was not ashamed to stand up for that which was right and he was not ashamed to be ridiculed for standing for that which was right.
As we study the final chapters of the book of Acts we see that God would use Paul to confront some of the false teachings of that time in a very public manner. Paul would also have opportunity to use his Roman citizenship as a defence at times. It did not always help him but at times it did.
It is important to note that Paul’s main defence was the Word of God. There is no greater defence than that. As we look at Paul’s life, we find that he did not win in the eyes of man. He spent his final years as a prisoner and according to history, was murdered by a wicked emperor. However, Paul served God faithfully. As he wrote in II Timothy 4, he had fought the good fight of faith. He knew there was a crown of righteousness awaiting him. He also encouraged others to be saved and fight the good fight of faith. He reminds us that there is a crown of righteousness for every true believer.
We need God’s truth today as much as any other generation. We need to see the value of knowing the true God and being faithful to Him today. It is wise to know God and to put Him first in your life.