Saul (who’s name was changed by God to Paul) was a persecutor of Christians. He would lock them up just for being christians. He was the one who stood and approved the stoning of God’s servant Stephen. At the beginning of Acts 9 his aim was to acquire legal documentation to again lock up Christians:
Acts 9: 1-2 – Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
Today this type of persecution is very prevalent around the world in some way or the other. People are just destroyed for being Christian. Churches around the world are being blown up… Saul was doing something which God did not approve.
…But something happened to Saul on his way to execute great persecution. Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. When Jesus appeared to him on the Damacus road He confronted Saul about what he was doing. The word of God says in verses 4-6:
4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him,“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Saul was actually intercepted by God’s presence on his way again to lock up Christians and was immediately made blind as shown in verse 8:
8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
At first glance one would immediately assume that Saul was being “stricken” for all of his evil acts towards christians. The Word of God does not state this specifically so we can’t approve nor disapprove this assumption, but if we keep reading on in the chapter, we would notice that God had a greater purpose for Saul and it did not include further persecution of His people and ultimately Jesus.
In verses 15-16 Jesus stated clearly “…This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
In Saul’s blindness, He had to be led by others. Paul was always a “big boy”. He was always a leader. Now in his blindness he had to be led. Being led calls for humility. How many of us would allow other people to lead you? How many of us would be so humble to listen to others? God however brought Paul to that place.
We see Saul being led to where Jesus was sending him in verses 7-9:
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything
Today we may not be condemning people to be stoned for being Christians like Saul did, but we do things which persecute Jesus in so many ways. We do so many things that are simply contrary to what He desires and requires.Today many of us persecute Jesus with the way we treat our own brothers and sisters. Even the way that we behave grieves Jesus, but like Saul was forgiven, we too can be forgiven. Our lives are totally out of order in some cases and we are walking totally out the purpose for which we have been created.
In verses 10-16 God uses a disciple to bring deliverance in Saul’s life.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision,“Ananias!”“Yes, Lord,” he answered.11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.
The All-Knowing God knew exactly where Saul way because that is where He had led him. He sent His servant Ananias to Saul. God had already shown Saul Ananias in a vision and the fact that God would send him to restore his sight. Even though Ananias was a bit concerned based on his prior knowledge of Saul’s plan for Damascus, he obeyed God’s assuring command.
Acts 9:17-19 – 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Act 17-19, shows us however exactly what was wrong with Saul. His eyes were covered with scales. As previously mentioned the placing of these scales on Saul’s eyes should not be necessarily seen as punishment for all of what he had done to Christians but rather God’s method of proving Himself to Saul and guiding him in the right direction towards his higher calling and purpose.
Had Jesus not intercepted Saul, he would not have changed His course.
Had Jesus not intercepted Saul, he would not have gone into the period of praying of fasting which he experience
Had Jesus not intercepted Paul, he would not have walked in His full purpose.
Now if Saul had remained as a persecutor, we would have missed 13 whole books of the new testament which he wrote. The scales on his eyes, though negative, were for a purpose.
God’s purpose is always GREATER. If God change Saul, one of His fiercest opponents of that time, He can change anyone now. Paul became one of the most zealous and “sold-out-for-God” man in the new testament.
Like Saul we do and say things which are senseless. We make decisions which just make no sense at all, but today God wants to remove all scales from our eyes. We persecute Jesus daily when we cry down other Christians but God’s heart’s desire is to help us change our direction so that we can be all that He has called us to be.
Saul’s course was changed through scales being placed on his eyes. He was blinded to his own realty and diverted to purpose. In other words his path was blocked and he redirected via another road of greatness.
Are you ready to allow God to block your way? Are you willing to say “Father to my life and make it yours even if you have to block me from certain roads”? Are you willing to tell God, “Father even if you have to break up the relationship, do it because I want to live for you?”. Saul’s greatness began with God blocking his way to destruction. God is here to do the same for you. In some cases God will do it because He is God, but in other cases, He is just waiting on You to make the request for Him to take over.
God wants to place His hands on us like Ananias did to Saul and give us new life through the power of His Holy Spirit. In this new life, we see things much clearer because we begin to walk in God’s truth. We will begin to see God and His word as real. We will begin to make wise decisions which are not only for our gain, but firstly for the betterment of others.
Even as you read some of you may be on their way to do something which YOU want to do, but really isn’t the right thing in God’s sight to do, but Jesus wants to intercept you on your road to Damascus, so that you may be converted and be all that He has called you to be. After all this, Saul was given a new lease on life and a new name (Paul).
Are you ready to see again? Are you ready for a new name? Are you ready to be converted to walk in purpose?
If your answer is yes, join the many others who have said this prayer:
Heavenly Father You are just so amazing. Your everlasting love is greater than any other love which exists and because of this love and care for me, Your heart’s desire is to help me to see and to take me to higher heights where you can use me for the advancement of your kingdom. Father I repent of all the times I persecuted Your church, said things against Your people and did things the way that I wanted to, even when You were saying something else. There are things which I have approved and allowed because I thought they were right. I confess my blindness. I confess that I have ignored You one way or the other and I need You to take control.
Today I give you all permission to place Your hands on me. Take me down the road of submission. Cover me, protect me, shield me, transform me and remove the scales from my eyes that I may see again in the way that you want me to see. Like Saul, I need a personal encounter with You that I can see the way you want me to see. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that You can guide my every thought, action and decision so that I can operate in line with you. Convert me Lord to what you want. Father I thank you for hearing and answering this prayer, in the name of Jesus, who is able to bring great change. AMEN.
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