“ Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” Acts 26:32
The Apostle Paul had eloquently and truthfully pleaded his case before Agrippa, and the Truth of his words, which is God’s Word, greatly influenced the King so that Agrippa actually said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:28) After Paul says, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me today, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” (Acts 26:29) Agrippa then conferred with the authority figures around him, and as they reviewed what had been said, he came to the conclusion that Paul was innocent of the charges filed against him.
There is no evidence herein that the King, nor anyone in the conference group, accepted salvation, but that is not what the Holy Spirit is showing us. What we need to see is the Apostle Paul and his reactions to the ongoing series of trials.
Of course, Paul had been preaching the Truth back in Jerusalem, and they simply did not want to hear it. Yet, Paul spoke it anyway, with the Holy Ghost boldness he was known for having and he had enraged the Sadducees in the temple to the point that he had to be removed by Claudius Lysias, the chief captain of the guard. He had the captain informed of those who plotted to kill Paul (as allowed to be seen by Paul’s nephew) and so the captain sent him to Felix, the governor in Ceasarea. (Acts 23:26-33) Felix contended, after hearing the Truth, that he could not make any judgment against Paul. He decided to keep him, in the hope of gaining money for Paul’s release. He never received any such monies, and ended up spending two years communing with the Apostle during which the bound Apostle does not complain. Even after those two years, when Felix was replaced by Festus, the hand of the Lord remained on Paul such that, while Festus was in Jerusalem, the high priest besought a ruling from Festus and asked Paul be brought there . Of course, unknown to the governor, they were still laying in wait for him to kill him. But Festus decided that was not the course he wished, and was used by the Lord when making the decision instead to go back to Ceasarea to bring Paul before him there, thus protecting the Apostle from harm once more. (Acts 24: 22 thru 25:6)
Now, Paul stands before the King and is asked if he will go to Jerusalem to stand trial before his accusers. Paul, knowing the conspiracy revealed to him, and being a Roman, familiar with his rights and privileges, wisely asks appeal of Caesar, which once asked for cannot be denied a Roman citizen. Why did Paul do this, as to appear though he were not trusting the Lord to deliver him from the hands of those who wanted him dead, nor trusting the deliverance immediately from Agrippa?
While in the custody of Claudius Lysias back in Jerusalem, the Lord had spoken to Paul and told him:
“Be of good cheer, Paul: for thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also in Rome.” Acts 23:11
The Lord said to be joyful, which means he very well began to be downhearted. Afterward, he moved forward with confidence, not in himself, but in God. And his faith, his resolve, and his joy filled heart were strengthened. So, Paul, knowing that he was in the Lord’s perfect will, did not worry. Knowing that God was working for him, Paul simply followed where he was led, even as he was bound. So, when the situation arose that he could either go back to Jerusalem, where the Lord said he had testified (with a meaning of approval for a job well done) or go to Rome (where the Lord said he was to testify of Him), he chose Rome, where he would have to go to stand before Caesar. Paul chose to follow the Word of God.
When our circumstances are such that we begin to look to the offering of the world for release from our trials, we need to recall what the Apostles would have done in similar circumstances. As the Apostle Paul did, we need to stand on the Word of Almighty God in our lives, and rely on what He has said to guide us in every decision, in every circumstance, of our lives. There is nothing too great or anything too small for our Lord. All that is around us was created by Him, is sustained by Him, and belongs to Him. If we truly believe in Him, and what he has said to us, we can stand in faith with the same confidence and joy in our hearts and minds. God is faithful to those who believe, and He knows our future. He says:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you and expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord, and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord, and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
So, know this: God allows us to experience things that we might think we shouldn’t have to go through. Sometimes, they are painful experiences. Sometimes, we must make sacrifices in our lives. Sometimes, things simply don’t make sense and seem unfair when we compare ourselves to others. God allows them for our own personal growth, but also, for the benefit of others. Our lives are no longer our own. We truly were bought with a price, and if we love God, and love others as ourselves, we should realize that it is no longer about us. It is about Jesus and what He did at Calvary’s Cross. He didn’t just do it for me. He didn’t just do it for you. He did it for everyone. (John 3:16)