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Circle the Wagons

Acts 14:19 Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead.20 But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. God is showing up in power in Paul's message and there are many being saved and now the devil is using religious people who do not believe in Jesus to thwart the work of Paul. They are serious about stopping this work and in the above verses, you see that they stoned Paul and dragged him out of town! The believers gathered around him and God renewed Paul's strength and he got up and went where? Right back into town!

The old term "shoot the messenger" applies here as Paul is sharing the hope of salvation and they hate that message so much that they try to kill him. Here is the context of that famous saying. "Shoot the Messenger" is a metaphoric phrase used to describe the act of blaming the bearer of bad news. Of course, the difference here is Paul sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, but to unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, Paul is a threat. And the bad news that might be realized by them is the promise of hell to those who don't believe. Along with the bad news of rejecting Jesus hope is offered if they will just believe by faith. Paul wrote this to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The message of circumcision to be made "right with God" is not a part of this great salvation. Only by faith in Jesus Christ and the finetuning of the message of hope was the direct opposite of what the religious Jews were preaching and they were not going to change their minds, so they poisoned the people's minds toward Paul wherever they could, but the message was still preached and lives were still changed.

When the religious leaders couldn't stone Paul to death the new believers came to his rescue and surrounded him to protect. The worship song "Surrounded" seems applicable here. The following lyrics make up the chorus to this song of God's protection. It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You. Paul was surrounded by a group of new believers and he was surrounded by God as well.

I can't help but believe that Paul was probably thinking of the stoning of Steven when he was getting stoned by these people because of the message he was preaching. Here is the parallel account of that stoning. Acts 7:58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

When Paul got stoned and dragged out of the city he didn't die, but rose up and went back into the town and left the next day for the next town, Derbe. Paul got back up and his friends had his back and surrounded him with God's love and protection. Oh to have friends that do things like that today!! We need each other and God uses us to keep the message alive and active. Keep on preaching and keep on surrounding those who preach it with your help and protection. Circle the wagons and then say "Wagon Ho!"

The Pilgrimage Continues.

David Warren

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