Acts chapter 25      Next chapter           Back to Bible Studies     

At the end of chapter 24, we read that Felix left Paul in prison for two years despite the fact that he was a Roman citizen and the charges against him were unsubstantiated (24:13, 25:7, 10).  We can deduce that this was a lonely time for Paul as there is no mention of visitors other than Felix (and his wife, Drusilla) who wanted nothing more than a bribe in the end.  That said, we know that time spent abiding in the Lord is not time wasted. God would have used this time in Paul's life for good. 

In Galatians 1:11-18, we read that following his conversion, Paul went into Arabia.  During this time, Paul "received [the gospel] by revelation from Jesus Christ."  It is important for us to remember that there will be times in our lives when God is preparing us for work that lays ahead.  God is patient and He often completes His good work in us over time.  Moses spent 40 years, from the time he fled Egypt until the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush, being prepared by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  Joseph received his dreams at the age of 17, but he did not see them fulfilled until he was 30.

So much is to be learned in times of preparation!  In his letter to the Philippians (almost certainly written in Rome), Paul writes, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation," and "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Phil 4:11-13).  2 Timothy, the last of Paul's epistles, was written near the end of his life.  He has been deserted (1:15) and expects to be executed soon(4:6); yet despite this, he is curiously undefeated.  In 4:17-18, Paul writes, "But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was delivered from the lion's mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.  To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Right from the moment of his conversion, the Lord was instructing Paul to rest in Him ("be content") more and more.  In every trial, the Lord proved Himself faithful and Paul's trust in Him deepened continually until Paul could say, despite the circumstances, with all confidence, "the Lord stood at my side…, [He] will rescue me… and will bring me safely…."  What rest is found when we abide in the One who said, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  (Matt 11:28-29)

King David often wrote of the rest that is found in God alone.  In Psalm 62, we read, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge."  In Psalm 23, we read, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…"  In the valley of the shadow of death, we are able to see ourselves as we truly are without God (not abiding in Him): naked, defenseless, and utterly insufficient. 

We can look at other OT kings who also looked to God in troubled circumstances.  Consider their circumstances and the words of their prayers:

King Asa (2 Chr 14:8-15) as his army, far outnumbered, prepared to meet the Cushite army -- "LORD, there is no one like You to help the powerless against the mighty.  Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this vast army.  O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You." (v.11)  In v.12, we read, "The LORD struck down the Cushites…"

King Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 20:1-30) as his army, far outnumbered, prepared to meet the Moabites and the Ammonites-- "O our God, will You not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." (v.12)  In v.22, we read, "the LORD set ambushes against the men… who were invading Judah, and they were defeated."

King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:17-19) as the Assyrians threaten Jerusalem and insult God-- "O, LORD, God of Israel…, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth…. Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms on earth may know that You alone, O LORD, are God."  (v15-19)  In 19:35, we read, "That night, the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp… So Sennacherib broke camp and withdrew."

Abide in Him, dear friends, for then you will find rest for your souls.