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Just Listen

Just Listen
Words of Faith 8-1-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Acts 23
[6] Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." [7] When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. [8] (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)
[9] There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. "We find nothing wrong with this man," they said. "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" [10] The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
[11] The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."

Paul stood before the highest religious court in Judaism. But the mighty Sanhedrin was led by a corrupt and brutal high priest. The chances of a fair hearing were slim and none, and slim just left!
So Paul pulled an interesting move. He deliberately divided the court by claiming an identity with one party. In our modern terms we would say he made this a “partisan debate”.
Half the group was made up of Sadducees who did not believe in resurrection, afterlife or angels. (Remember the mnemonic device? Because they did not believe in the resurrection they were “sad-you-see”.) The other half were Pharisees who were closest to the beliefs of Christians. They believed in the resurrection of the dead, heaven, hell, and angels. (This did not make them “fair-you-see” but you get the point.)
Was Paul just pulling a quick political maneuver in order to save his skin? Not necessarily. Paul came all the way to Jerusalem knowing he could die there, but the Lord had other plans in mind. It appears that the Spirit led Paul to divide the court knowing that their stubbornness would prevent them from hearing the Gospel. Jesus is not even mentioned here. Paul had already made his personal testimony regarding Jesus known to the larger public group of Jews and he had been rebuffed.
Jesus had once said, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces (Matthew 7:6).” The Jewish hearer would never have envisioned such a phrase as applying to the highest of Jewish courts, but indeed, this was the case.
Jesus had also said, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town (Matthew 10:14).” It was now time to do just that. The Lord clearly had a larger vision in mind and said so. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."
Is there a model here for us? Yes there is. But it is not the model of using divisive tactics. There is no “gift of division” among the gifts of the Spirit. The model is to listen to the Spirit. Just listen, and you will know what to do and what to say.
Here, before the highest court in the land, Paul did not even mention the name of Jesus and instead divided the court. This cannot be applied anywhere else unless the Spirit would so lead.
This is significant for us. This text teaches us that though we may always seek to be Scriptural (within the ethical bounds of Scripture), there may be situations which call for a response not modeled in Scripture. We must listen! This requires a relationship with the Lord that is dynamic rather than static. In fact, the chief problem with Judaism in the time of Jesus was that it had become static, rigid, and stuck either in the Law or in tradition. Judaism had stopped listening.
Jesus once said of such trials, "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10:17-20).”

Lord, set me free from worrying over “what I am to say” in a particular situation. I surrender to Your Spirit. I surrender to Your leading. I surrender to Your words. Speak through me. I am listening. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.