Sacrifices – And Paul’s final Episode
Samson did not realize that God had departed from him; and neither did Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, discern, during those dark days in Jerusalem, that he was very much on his own. His six days in the big city, are a disgrace upon his ministry. He compromised his whole message against priest craft in an abortive attempt to reach the Jews. He did the very thing for which he had openly rebuked his brethren.
He almost committed a great sin against Messiah by offering an animal sacrifice! Hear these words from the records of the book of Acts, (with our comments in brackets to emphasize the essence of this amazing section of Scripture):
We read from Acts chapter 21:19 onwards, about Paul’s arrival and meeting with his messianic brothers in Jerusalem. “After greeting them, he gave a detailed account of all that God had done among the pagans through his ministry. They gave glory to God when they heard this. ‘But you see, brother’ they said, ‘how thousands of Jews have now become believers (in Messiah), all of them staunch upholders of the Law (of Moses), and they have heard that you instruct all Jews living amongst the gentiles, to break away from Moses (admitting therefore that Paul did teach the “doing away with the Law”. The New Testament writings of Paul abounds with such instructions), authorising them not to circumcise their children or to follow the customary practices). What is to be done?”
The leaders of the Messianic congregation at Jerusalem, then arrives at the following solution: “We have four men here who are under a vow. Take these men along and be purified with them (a ritual process according to Jewish Law) and pay all the expenses connected with the shaving of their heads. This will let everyone know that that there is no truth in the reports and that you still regularly observe the Law. (As for those gentiles who have accepted the Jewish Messianic Faith) we wrote them and told them our decisions (regarding the keeping of the Law or not) that they must abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication (This according to a prior ruling which they had made – Acts 15:19).”
“So, the next day Paul took the men along and was purified with them, and he visited the Temple to give notice of the time when the period of purification would be over and the offering would have to be presented on behalf of each of them. The seven days were nearly over, when some Jews caught sight of him in the Temple and stirred up the crowd and seized him, shouting, ‘Men of Israel, help! This is the man who preaches to everyone everywhere against our people, against the Law and against this place!’”
In a hearing against him, shortly after, Paul admitted: Acts 24:17 “After several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to make offerings. It was in connection with these that they found me in the Temple.”
From this time to the end of his life, Paul remained a prisoner. Was it the ’Rod of God’ that had fallen on his back as punishment for his stubborn rebellion against the leading and advise of the Spirit of God? Yet, God continued to stand by him and bless his remaining confined ministry until his death.