This story fascinates me. Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem. The bible does not really specify whether this was his desire or if he were being led by the Spirit. Along his journey to Jerusalem, on two separate occasions, two different prophets warned him not to go. And even though the prophets were correct, trouble awaited him, Paul went anyway.
Here is what I learn from this story:
1. We should never, ever allow fear to drive our decisions. Everyone around Paul feared for his life. But Paul did not allow their fears to dictate his decision. He followed the prompting of what the Holy Spirit told him.
2. A Prophet’s voice should never override the Holy Spirit’s voice in you. The prophets were spot on in their warning to Paul. Trouble was waiting for him in Jerusalem. But Paul had to decide the purpose of the prophetic word. In this case the word was to prepare his heart, not to deter the visit. As receivers of prophetic words, we are responsible for weighing them and judging their purpose.
3. Just because you are doing what God has called you to do, does not mean there will be all blue skies and green lights. Because of Paul’s decision to go to Jerusalem, he was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and bitten by a scorpion. What was the fruit of this? An unreached people group on the Island of Malta were preached the gospel and experienced the love of God with signs and wonders.
Paul was completely convinced of the call on his life. He refused to allow fear to prevent him from fulfilling his mission, his destiny. What has God called you to do? Does it seem scary? Impossible? No matter what odds seem against you, take that first step. And see what God will do on your behalf.
We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:4, 10-13 NIV)