Daily Readings and Thought for November 10th. “It is hard for you”
Paul is described as God’s “chosen vessel” [Acts 9 v.15] but that does not mean he was lavished with favours by God like a father does toward his favourite son, such as Jacob did with Joseph and his coat of many colours [Gen 37 v.3-4]. Paul recalls, as he is giving his account before King Agrippa, what Jesus said to him on the road to Damascus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” [Acts 26 v.14]
What does that mean? References to goads are common in Greek and Roman writings. If the oxen are going where the ploughman does not want them to go, there is a goad they kick against. Jesus knew Paul had a troubled conscience. He knew that a battle had been going on in his mind and he was kicking against an inner conscience every time he persecuted Christians, part of his mind knew he was doing wrong. Do you get that feeling sometimes? I am sure that all those who are striving to serve Jesus as their Lord experience this at times.
Some might see it as terrible that God should allow Paul to be arrested and stopped from further preaching and be on trial. [Acts Chs.22-26] But it gives him opportunity to challenge (or rather God through him) both the Jewish and Roman leaders. Notice how Paul made Felix uneasy when “he reasoned about righteousness and self control and the coming judgment” the text says Felix became “alarmed” [Acts 24:25]. Do we get alarmed at times?
In the O T we are reading Ezra: but this book is not written by Ezra, it is really a continuation of 2nd Chronicles. Ezra 1, should really be 2 Chron. 27. In tomorrow’s chapter, Chapter 7, Ezra, a scribe [v.6] first comes on the scene, he is just one of a number of those returning from exile, but he stands out! Why?
In v.10 we read, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Note the 3 things he had set his heart to do. He impressed the Persian King and the King gives a message to others about him. [v.21-26] Ezra’s reaction and appreciation is shown in v.27-28 “Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king …. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me … “ Ezra too, was a chosen vessel.