Acts 22:22 “The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, ‘Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!'”
Paul went to Jerusalem against the advice of his companions, but the Spirit of God drove him to Jerusalem as a means of getting him to Rome. Jesus told Paul that he would speak in Rome and share the gospel message as he did in Jerusalem. Paul was arrested in Jerusalem on the false accusations brought against him by some of the Jews, who hated the Nazarene sect. The Roman soldiers secured Paul and led him to the Praetorium, Roman army barracks, to put him in custody. Prior to entering the fortress, Paul requested to speak to the crowd. When he spoke to them in Aramaic, they quieted down long enough to hear his testimony. The crowd listened until the point where Paul spoke of his support for the death of Stephen. Then the crowd turned on him again and demanded his imprisonment and death just as they had done Jesus.
When Paul encountered Jesus personally on the road to Damascus, he became blinded from God’s glory. He came to the city and stayed in a house on Strait Street, where a disciple of Jesus, Ananias, came to lay hands on Paul, pray for him, and deliver a message to him from God. Part of his message was that Paul would learn from God the persecutions and sufferings he must endure for the sake of Jesus. As Paul traveled and spread the gospel message, he was beaten, starved, left for dead, disappointed, mistreated, scourged, abandoned, and now in Jerusalem faced death. The one thing Paul did, though, was never turn his back on Jesus. He wrote in one epistle that he did not boast in anything concerning himself, but he gladly boasted about his being confined in chains for the sake of the gospel.
Paul knew going into the ministry that he would face difficult times ahead of him. His sufferings were foretold to him prior to conversion; however, he gladly accepted the mission that God put before him. When he intended to go to Jerusalem a second time since leaving there, his friends warned him of his impending incarceration. Paul was determined more than ever to go anyway. He had a mission and was bound to complete it. Nothing was going to stop him from spreading the good news of Jesus. The thought of dying for Jesus brought a smile to Paul’s face, as evidenced in his writings that to be absent from the body is to be with Christ. He longed to be with Christ because he knew by faith of the reward awaiting him there.
The amazing thing in this story is how much Paul was treated like Jesus in their capital city of Jerusalem. Jesus came to bring light, life, and salvation to the Jews but ended up dying outside Jerusalem in order to achieve these things. Paul suffered accordingly in the hands of the Jews in Jerusalem but would later die for the cause of the gospel at the hands of the Romans in Rome. Jesus was a prophet to the Jews firsts, and Paul was a prophet then to the Gentiles. They both taught and preached the same message of repentance unto salvation through the blood of Jesus. They were accepted by the people for a time until they started showing the people the errors of their ways and reluctance to receive the truth of God’s Word. For this cause, they gave all they had for the redemption of mankind again to God.
For all his troubles, Paul’s former associates, friends, and neighbors, people who knew him personally, turned their backs on him and demanded his death in the same manner as they had for Jesus’ execution. They called him a man “not fit to live” and was worthy of being “rid…of him.” How could people he knew and loved and lived among years before now alienate him and demand his execution for telling the truth? It is almost unthinkable, yet the truth of the matter is that people you know sitting the pew next to you with whom you worship God weekly will turn on you if you stand up for the truth and exclaim the real message of repentance unto salvation and that such is available only through Jesus.
The day is coming to America soon and very soon, I might add, that you are going to pay a price for standing up for your faith and proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ gospel and the exclusionary message that no one can get to heaven except through Jesus, who is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE and by whose name men must be saved and no other. If you think that it can’t happen in America, then I address your attention to a VERY RECENT case of people being ARRESTED in the USA for ATTEMPTING to share the gospel of Jesus by passing out copies of the book of John. Please see the video below from an arrest in Dearborn, MI, on JUNE 18th, 2010. Today is JUNE 23rd, 2010! 5 days ago three men were arrested in the USA for sharing the gospel on public streets and harassing no one.
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray to you today and request that you strengthen the hearts of believers worldwide. It is very apparent that the last days are truly upon us. People around the world are being persecuted for the sake of your name and gospel. It is even happening now in the USA on a more frequent basis particularly now that we have a muslim-sympathizing leader running our country. He wouldn’t even addressed the leader of your chosen people for three hours yet regularly travels to visit muslim lands that oppose your people and want nothing more to happen to Jews and Christians than what the Jews said of Paul, “Rid the earth of [them]! [They’re] not fit to live!” Peter and Paul both told us to expect persecution for the sake of your name and that it is part of being a true believer. IF we are not experiencing persecution for the sake of your name and sharing your gospel, then are we really serving you and living as true believers? Are we causing the enemy such grief and trouble that his forces desire nothing less than our destruction and annihilation? We must trust in you for the days grow short for believers. The world wants us dead; there is no doubt about that. However, we will continue to stand up and declare the truth of the gospel to the lost. Amen.