Devotion 8-20-15

Acts 21:1-14

When we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.* 2When we found a ship bound for Phoenicia, we went on board and set sail. 3We came in sight of Cyprus; and leaving it on our left, we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. 4We looked up the disciples and stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5When our days there were ended, we left and proceeded on our journey; and all of them, with wives and children, escorted us outside the city. There we knelt down on the beach and prayed 6and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.

7 When we had finished* the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the believers* and stayed with them for one day. 8The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9He had four unmarried daughters* who had the gift of prophecy. 10While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11He came to us and took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.” ’ 12When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ 14Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, ‘The Lord’s will be done.’

The little ships of that day preferred to move along the coast – but after traveling along the Asia coast, and having left the Ephesian leaders at Miletus, the little group of traveling missionaries find a ship headed for the Phoenecian coast. That would be the region of Tyre and Sidon Jesus speaks of in the gospels. They pass by Cyprus and land at Tyre, where the ship unloaded cargo. They stayed there with the disciples for seven days. These disciples warn Paul not to go to Jerusalem. And then they escorted the group outside the city and said farewell with tears.

They sail on down the coast to Caesarea, where they stay at the home of Philip, one of the seven. If you recall from Acts 6:5, Philip was among those chosen to serve along with Stephen and others. A prophet comes there and warns Paul again about going to Jerusalem. The members of his own group beg him not to go. But he asks them why they are breaking his heart, and will not be persuaded.

Notice the recurring theme in this journey back to Jerusalem. Paul seems to know it is his final journey, at least in that part of the world. Perhaps he is planning to go on to Rome and from there to Spain, and for that reason does not expect to see them again; or perhaps, he as well, has a premonition about the danger ahead. Repeatedly, the people he meets warn him not to go to Jerusalem. But, no matter how many times he is warned, and no matter how troubled his own heart is, he is determined to go to Jerusalem, to deliver the collection from the Gentile churches for the poor in Judea, and to fulfill a vow he has made in the temple. And so – he continues his journey, despite the warnings.

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