As we come to the final chapter in Acts, we see Paul and the passengers of the ship, ship-wrecked on the island of Malta. The natives were kind to them and helped warm them with a fire. Paul gathered sticks and put them on the fire. Just as he did, a viper came out and bit Paul. When the natives saw this, they thought he must be someone doomed because of the horrible death that was sure to ensue. When Paul shook the creature into the fire and no harm came to Paul, they changed their minds and began to say Paul was a god.
A wealthy man of the island, Publius, had a father who was sick with a fever. Paul went to the man, prayed, laid hands on him, and healed him. After this, many on the island came to be healed. When Paul and his party were ready to leave, the people of the island supplied all they needed.
After wintering in Malta for three months and then headed for Rome. When they entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with a guard. After three days, Paul called the leaders of the Jews together and he said to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death. But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.” How far are you willing to go for people to come to Christ? Are you willing to bear chains, beatings, prison? I pray that God would give me the strength to endure whatever necessary to see a people brought to Him.
The leaders tell Paul they have received no letters or any bad reports, but they wanted to know about this “sect” being spoken against. They set up a day for Paul to speak and they came to his place of lodging. He spoke about the Kingdom of God and Jesus. He used the Scripture of the Old Testament to do so. He spoke from morning to evening. Some were persuaded and others were not. When those in attendance began arguing and leaving, Paul spoke again. He said, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes; Otherwise they might see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.” The Jews departed in great dispute. Paul stayed for two years, welcoming all who came to him. He preached the Kingdom of God and taught concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered. Does this quote from Isaiah describe our world, our country, our state, our community, even our church, today? Are we hearing and not understanding? Are we closing our eyes to the Truth? Is our land not being healed because of this state of sinfulness? Has God taken the Word to those “far off” because of our stubbornness? Are we teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered? I pray we, the CHURCH, will hear and understand, will see with open eyes, will repent from our wickedness and turn to You, our Sovereign Creator. I pray we will be healed so we can teach, open and unhindered, concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray we can take the Word to those “far off” for your sake and Glory. Amen.