1 “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Saul was a very zealous young man for God in his earlier life…..or so he thought. Having been a student of the Law from his youth, he became a member of the most prestigious group of his day: The Pharisees. He was so zealous, in fact, that he was considered a “Pharisee among Pharisees.” You might call him a “Legalist of legalists.”
He is the very same young man who watched over the coats of those involved in the stoning of righteous Stephen, a messenger of the gospel to the Jewish people, consenting to his death. 😔
(For more on that topic, you may follow the link below:
Saul Goes Hunting For Believers.
Like most Jewish leaders of his day, he was adamantly opposed to this new “Jesus sect,” known to the Jews as “Followers of The Way.” Determined to stop this so-called, “Heresy,” before it got out of hand, he obtained legal papers from the religious leaders in Jerusalem allowing him to go after these “heretics” outside of town. This pleased them very much. That’s why he was on his way to Damascus.
But something quite unexpected happened on the way to doing what he thought was the the will of Almighty God. Jesus appeared to him in a light so bright it literally knocked him off his “high horse,” so to speak. Let’s follow the story.
“Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”
He was blind for three days. 😮
Imagine how he must have felt when he realized the truth of what he’d been doing! Hewas actually working against God and against The Messiah Himself! Shaken? You betcha! He was terrified! No wonder his life turned around 180°!
During those three days of blindness, he was given the full-up revelation of the gospel of Grace from our risen and glorified Jesus Himself, seated at the right hand of the Father. You’ll notice, it wasn’t given to Peter or James or even John, men who knew Jesus personally and had walked with Him while he was physically here on earth.
Paul may have missed out on an encounter with Jesus in person but, because of what was revealed to him, he went on to write 3/4 of the New Testament! Incredible! ♥️
If you think about it, that’s really how the whole Bible was written: By revelation. God leads and teaches us that way today: Through revelation from His word! His word is a living, breathing entity! You can read one passage of scripture and today it speaks to you one way. Later on, you can read the very same passage and that day it says something completely different. This isn’t just any dusty old novel that, once you read it, it is read. It is something alive! No other book on the planet is like it! NONE!!! ♥️
Let’s continue our story:
Saul’s companions did not know what what was happening. They were terrified! 😮 So, they took him by the hand and led him the rest of the way to Damascus. Just as Jesus instructed Saul, they brought him to the house of a man named, “Ananias.” Good thing he was given advanced notice of his notorious “guest’s” arrival or he would have been terrified, too. Saul’s reputation by this time had spread far and wide. His murderous intent toward Christians was well known far beyond Jerusalem.
But God had also spoken to in Ananias a dream. The Holy Spirit had directed him to lay his hands on Saul in Jesus’ name. Immediately, his eyes…..both physical and spiritual…..were opened!
Secrets In The Hebrew Language.
Our Abba loves to hide wonderful truths for us in the meanings of people, places, things and even numbers. Ananias’ name in Hebrew means “The grace of God” or “God has been gracious!” Quite literally, “GRACE” opened Paul’s eyes. The first thing Paul saw was Ananias–GRACE–and the first path or street he walked on after his conversion was called “Straight!” 😀
After these things, Saul became the greatest Apostle of all time and his name was changed to, “Paul.” Any time you find a name change in the Bible, there is a hidden meaning there. Such is the case here.
Saul comes from the root word, “Sha’al,” which means, “To ask, beg, or plead.”Paul means, “Humble.” God give GRACE to the HUMBLE,” but resists the proud. You don’t have to beg for what He freely gives.
Isn’t God cool? GRACE opened his eyes; the first thing he saw was GRACE. Afterward, he was able to walk straight! WOOHOO! He went from begging from God to a man so humble he received grace upon grace. 🙌🏻 🙌🏻 🙌🏻 Nope. There are no insignificant details in the Bible.
Depiction Of Israel And The Church.
But Saul is also a picture of the Jewish people who have been blind to the gospel since Jesus walked this earth.
By God’s reckoning of time, Jesus was here 3 days ago. (See 2 Peter 3:8). They left their homeland (Damascus is in Syria) and, out there in the Gentile lands, grace at last opened their eyes! More Jewish people are coming to faith in Jesus than ever before in the history of the world!
His story is also a depiction of the Church, which is primarily comprised of non-Jews. God demonstrates through this account how, for some 2,000 years, the Gentile nations of the world have been given the chance to hear the Gospel and get saved. God is not willing that ANY should perish! HALLELUJAH!!!
The Greatest Evangelist Of All Time.
From this point forward, Paul became the greatest evangelist of all time! That is so like our God, isn’t it? He takes the most contrary, obstinate, unlikely person in the world, totally transforms him or her, and uses them for His purposes. He truly is the God of the “impossible!” That gives us all hope!
The New Hidden In The Old.
This particular part of Paul’s life is hidden in the Old Testament in the most surprising place: Jacob’s blessing over Benjamin.
“Benjamin is a ravening wolf. In the morning he shall devour the prey, but in the evening, he shall divide the spoils.” Genesis 49:27
What do wolves eat? SHEEP. Saul was the “Wolf” who went after God’s “Sheep,” devouring all he could in his early life. But after his conversion on the Damascus road, Paul got all that revelation (the spoils) and they have been shared around the world for 2,000 years. What a blessing!
Care to guess from which tribe Paul is from? Yep, BENJAMIN!
Who would have thought that in this long-ago blessing from Genesis 49 you would find a prophecy about a man named, “Saul,” who became “Paul,” and Ananias, who opened his eyes.
For more on other blessings of Jacob over his sons, you may follow the link below: