by Bobby Bruno
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"They have roused my jealousy by worshiping things that are not God; they have provoked my anger with their useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people; I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles.
Deuteronomy 32:21 (NLT)
"Again I ask, Did Israel not understand? [Did the Jews have no warning that the Gospel was to go forth to the Gentiles, to all the earth?] First, there is Moses who says, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.
Romans 10:19 (AMP)
"After we had been there for a number of days, a prophet named Agabus arrived from Judea. During his visit he took Paul's belt and tied his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man who owns this belt. Then they will hand him over to people who are not Jewish.'” When we heard this, we and the believers who lived there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Then Paul replied, “Why are you crying like this and breaking my heart? I'm ready not only to be tied up in Jerusalem but also to die there for the sake of the Lord, the one named Jesus.” When Paul could not be persuaded, we dropped the issue and said, “May the Lord's will be done.” After that, we got ready to go to Jerusalem.
Acts 21:10-15 (GW)
If read in the usual way that we read such sentences in the Bible, it would seem to us that Agabus’ prophecy in Acts 21:11b is a negative prophecy, when, in fact, it is a positive one. We have to remember that Paul was persecuted by the Jews at every turn -- he was thrown out of the Temple (21:30), was almost lynched (21:27ff), and was almost murdered (23:12). What we see here is a man who just refuses to stop trying to convert the Jews. It is no surprise then that God had to get Paul’s attention again to turn him around to God’s plan for his life. Yes, Paul would be handed over to the Gentiles, not necessarily to suffer but to preach the Gospel to them. Yes, Paul did suffer at the hands of the Romans (who tried to help him more than hurt him), but his suffering was usually at the hands of the Jews who wanted Paul stopped for fear that he might uproot Judaism for this new Way of Jesus Christ. This is why the disciples tried to stop Paul from going back to Jerusalem knowing that he would definitely suffer there and could possibly be killed, which would have stopped his ministry short of its goal. But Paul knew that Jesus had called him for the task of converting the Gentile since Jesus knew that the Jews would continue to deny Him as hard as they could. So, Paul was in fact willingly handed over to the non-Jews so that the Word of God could be spread further. The anger of the Jews should have been no surprise to anyone in the group of disciples who knew the scriptures, as Moses, speaking for God, wrote Deuteronomy 32:21, “They have roused my jealousy by worshiping things that are not God; they have provoked my anger with their useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people; I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles” (NLT). Paul used this scripture to remind his people when he said “Again I ask, Did Israel not understand? [Did the Jews have no warning that the Gospel was to go forth to the Gentiles, to all the earth?] First, there is Moses who says, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry” (Rom. 10:19/AMP). In Paul, this prophecy was now coming true. The Gentiles would be used to make Israel angry because the Gentiles would convert in great numbers, shaming the Jews in the future when Jesus returns again. Shame in that the Jews should have believe Jesus first before the Gentiles since they had the prophecies written down to study and look for as the time for Jesus’ life on earth was finally here.
Question: “Agabus’ acting out this binding up of Paul and being delivered to the Gentiles, is just the prophets strange way of preparing Paul for all the trouble that is coming his way and that there be no surprise in this.”
Author Response: “But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake” Acts 9:15-16 (NLT). Based on this scripture, we’re not sure when Jesus revealed how much he had to suffer for Christ. One can assume that Agabus’ prophecy was the culmination of this scripture. Again, we’re not sure if Ananias had revealed any of this to Saul when he prayed for him for the scales to be removed other than what scripture tells of the conversation between Ananias and Saul. None of the four commentaries I have (Barnes, Matthew Henry. JFB, and Adam Clarke) connect these two scriptures together. Interesting!
Question: “Friends, how many of us have them like Agabus, that care that much about us that they are willing do anything to save us from pain and suffering.”
Author Response: Many, if not all of us, know someone like Agabus who came to us in our time of greatest need that gave us the information that changed our lives. Someone guided by the Holy Spirit. Someone sent to us to tell us about our future and how it will be played out over time. We know someone who may not have known us, but put themselves in our path so that they could impart the knowledge of God that we so greatly needed. How many of us did not realize that we were seeking Christ until the Holy Spirit guided that someone to speak to us about the greatest need we all will ever have. My Agabus’ name is Rita Warner, a woman God placed in my path at a time when suicide was my only option, or so I thought. I met this angel of God at a party for newly-single people. The next day, Rita called me and said that she had never called a man to ask him to lunch. She didn’t know me and I didn’t know her, but she knew Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit and followed His guidance into the unknown with a stranger she only spoke to for a couple of minutes at a party. At that lunch the next day, I listened as Rita told me about her life. Then she said the name Jesus Christ. From that moment on, for the next hour and a half, the Holy Spirit took over the conversation so much that Rita and I will tell you that we don’t remember any of the conversation of that hour and a half. That night, I gave my life to Christ. Rita was my Agabus. Who was yours?
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