One Lit Candle (first 10.13.12)
" 'To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, that they receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to heavenly vision." Acts 26,18-19
If two unlit candles were arguing about what it means to be a candle, would anyone pay attention?
Would Jesus be glorified in that discussion?
Jesus gave the apostle Paul a heavenly vision and a well lit platform to spread the light of the gospel (Acts 26,13ff). He used this platform with amazing gusto and perseverance, without fear or favor of mere mortals.
One of the more challenging days on this platform occurred when Paul was in chains in Caesarea, held by the Roman occupiers of Israel, who after two years of detention, dumped him before the Tetrarch (or quartermaster) of Galilee, Agrippa II, asking in effect "what do we do with him?"
This Agrippa was great grandson of Herod the Great (37BC-4BC), who with the Romans, seized the rule of Israel from the Judahite Hasmoneans (firstly known as the "Maccabees") in 37 BC and never gave it back. (some background from "The New World Dictionary-Concordance of the New American Bible." World, 240-241)
So Agrippa II, who Paul flatters with the title "King" (of Galilee no less), was one of the ruling chaff of the indigenous Indumean Herod clan, that by cottoning to Rome in 37 BC, had ruled Israel and the environs under Rome's tutelage for almost 100 years.
The Herods were native "ethnarchs", local strongmen and political foxes, capable of burrowing into any advantageous darkness that maintained and further invested their power, whether that darkness was Roman, or religious, or otherwise.
Yet Paul in chains, and full of the light of the world, is undaunted in the face of his chains and the cunning darkness of those sitting in judgment over him.
In fact, the light of Jesus was so white hot and focused in Paul that Agrippa is moved almost to the point of faith by Paul's testimony about Jesus and about his own missionary work.
The Roman Procurator Festus sees the faith effect of Paul's evangelizing on his cohort Agrippa and boisterously cuts into Paul's sermon, like an enemy plant at a political rally, or a major distraction at church when folks are about to meet Jesus for the first time:
"Paul you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" (Acts 26,24)
Paul tries to get back on track but apparently Agrippa remembers the issue at hand, trying Paul in Jerusalem or honoring his appeal to Rome.
But Agrippa admits: "You almost persuaded me to become a Christian." (Acts 26,28)
One lit candle was about to light up the darkness of whole Herodian dynasty!
One lit candle, in chains even, is worth more than a million unlit candles talking.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...