Thursday, October 7, 2021
Hope for Everyone
“I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1 NKJV).
The apostle Paul was what we might call a Jew’s Jew. He was from the tribe of Benjamin, which was highly regarded, and his parents named him after the first king of Israel. Saul was a member of the Sanhedrin, which was sort of like the Supreme Court of the day. He probably was even their leader.
Schooled by the great rabbi Gamaliel, he rose through the ranks quickly with his super impressive résumé. He also had a reputation for being dedicated. In fact, he thought he was doing the work of God by hunting down members of an unusual new sect that believed Jesus was the Messiah and had identified themselves as His followers. He hunted these people down and arrested them, and he also presided over the death of Stephen, the first martyr of this group.
But one day on the Damascus Road, an unusual thing happened to Saul of Tarsus. He heard a voice saying to him, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5 NKJV). In the first century, a goad was a sharpened stick that was used to get animals to move faster.
Jesus was saying, “You're under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and you’re fighting against it. Why are you doing that?” The reality is that Saul of Tarsus actually was closer to believing in Jesus than he realized, and that’s why he was so opposed to it.
By the way, when someone is always arguing with you about your beliefs as a Christian, when they’re always trying to give you a hard time, it may seem as though they’re far from the kingdom of God. In reality, they may be closer than you think.
If God could reach a man like Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, then there’s hope for everyone.
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