Acts 28:1-6 “Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.’ But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.”
A friend of mine was given a vision from God where he was told; ‘Things are not what they seem.’ How true. Only God sees the entirety of our existence and understands how everything fits into His plans and purposes; “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) We can observe people in the world around us and come to what seems to be reasonable conclusions only to have events turn around and upend all our pronouncements.
Paul was a murderer, if not in deed certainly by intent and complicity; “. . . and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’” (Acts 7: 58,59) This young man Saul was to become Paul. Prior to his conversion Paul hated Christians and His church; “. . . Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem . . . ” (Acts 9:1,2)
Paul who was Saul had a murderous past and if any deserved to die a bloated painful death by snake bite it was Paul. It’s a cold and unforgiving justice that the world has for all sinners that takes no account of Grace. The world of onlookers could not (and cannot) see that Saul had an encounter with Jesus Christ who changed his life from the old man, Saul, to the new man, Paul. The world rejects and condemns but Jesus selects and commissions; “. . . he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15,16)
And even when events prove the world wrong, people re-consider their pronouncements and come to opposite conclusions which are equally in error and fall as far short of reality as their original views. To the people of Malta, Paul went from being a murderer getting his just deserts to a god immune to snake bites. Popular opinion in Paul’s day was based on popular ignorance of not only history but spiritual realities too. This is true today as well.
Even popular spiritual ‘psychics’ say the same; “Constantly exposing yourself to popular culture and the mass media will ultimately shape your reality tunnel in ways that are not necessarily conducive to achieving your Soul Purpose and Life Calling. Modern society has generally ‘lost the plot’. Slavishly following its false gods and idols makes no sense in a spiritually aware life.” (Anthon St. Maarten) There is no rationality in modern day delusions. Anthon St. Maarten’s popularity is an instance of this sad state of affairs. The paradox of our culture is that the more technologically adept we become because of the scientific advancements of a very small percentage of our society the more the minds of the general population are inclined to fickle superstition.
The reality is that God is operating in the world today as he was in Paul’s day – unseen and not understood by those who will not perceive. Paul in addressing the inclination of people in the early church to follow celebrities rather than Jesus warned; “. . . Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’ and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
The Bible tells us where we can get the wisdom we are to follow and use to understand what is happening in the world with; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:8,9) If you want to understand what’s really going on in the world and behind the scenes read the Holy Bible. if you have ‘lost the plot’, so to speak, don’t despair.
You can find meaning again in the Word of God. You can have an encounter with Jesus and you’ll never be the same again. Things are not what they seem. There is meaning. There is healing. There is hope and His name is Jesus; “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Praise the Lord!