Quoted from Acts 9 in the Message
Dear Lord, You were not subtle with Saul:
“All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master's disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.
He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: "Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?"
He said, "Who are you, Master?"
"I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you'll be told what to do next."
His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn't see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing.”
This Excerpt is From: Eugene H. Peterson. “THE MESSAGE.” iBook.
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I have put this story in quotes from Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE because I really want us to get the flavor of what happened to Saul before he becomes Paul. God literally blinds him. Saul has to be led by the hand to Damascus. Think back to Stephen’s prayer when he was being stoned to death and Saul is holding the coats of those doing the dirty work. Stephen says: “Dear Lord, Do not hold this against them.” This is the power of intercessory prayer. I get the feeling that God is “red hot angry” at Saul. Have you ever felt that way about someone? So angry and disappointed at the evil they were perpetuating, that you wanted to do them harm?
Remember when God is angry at the Israelites and Moses pleaded with the LORD saying: “LORD, why does your fury burn against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and amazing force? 12Why should the Egyptians say, 'He had an evil plan to take the people out and kill them in the mountains and so wipe them off the earth'? Calm down your fierce anger. Change your mind about doing terrible things to your own people.” (Exodus 32.11-12)
Tomorrow we will examine the transformation of Saul into Paul, but before we do let’s see what we can learn from God’s righteous anger. Saul probably seems unredeemable to us. He is killing Christians who are doing nothing wrong other than following Jesus. However, God sees something in Saul that we cannot yet see. Further study of Saul/Paul reveals that Gamaliel—the Pharisee who advised those ready to kill Peter and John that if this movement is not of God it would perish, probably educated him. Saul has attributes that can be used for good. I may be pushing this too far, but it makes sense to me that God listened to Stephen’s last words: “do not hold this against them” and God honored them. God is going to go to work on Saul and transform him.
Who in your lifetime have you seen transformed? Have you ever been transformed?
Prayer Recap: Dear Lord Jesus, You see goodness in places we cannot. Help us to understand the power of Your ability to heal and to transform us. Help us to love each other even through our anger by accepting the power of Your Most Holy Spirit to guide us so we do not depend on our own power alone. Amen.