3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” 5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8 Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. 9 He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
It’s here in the midst of Saul’s murderous mission that he meets the Messiah and second, we see his:
The real War on Terror is a spiritual battle for souls and our problem is that we have become so focused on the persecution that we have lost sight of the plan. Isis isn’t the problem they are just the puppet in the hands of the Prince of darkness. The solution to the problem of persecution wasn’t the eradication of Saul it was the salvation of his soul. It wasn’t the termination of Saul but the transformation of Saul that turned the tide. What are you praying for, is it just for safety and security or the salvation of souls. Now I want you to notice not just the power of God here but the plan and timing of God. Verse 3: “As he was approaching Damascus on this mission a light from heaven suddenly shone down”God’s miracle comes in the last mile, in the final moments of Saul’s mission. Why not when Saul first set out, why did Jesus wait until the end of his journey? I don’t know but I know His plan is perfect. The question is do we trust God’s timing? You see sometimes we have to come to the end of ourselves before we can come to the beginning of God. Some of you have been praying for a loved one for what seems like a life time and you are ready to throw in the towel because you have gotten focused on your time table and you are no longer trusting in His timing. You’re focusing on the results not on the Redeemer. The point is that regardless of when God intervened Saul could not stop God’s purposes. Later in Saul’s life in Acts 26 as he shares his testimony of God’s transformation in his life with King Agrippa we learn that it was about noon when this light from heaven flashed around him and that it was brighter than the sun. Previously when we looked at the Lord’s ascension we learned that the cloud that enveloped Jesus when He ascended into heaven was likely the very Shekinah glory of God’s powerful presence. It was the glory of God that got Saul’s attention and it did three things in his life, it:
- Reduced and humbled Him
God didn’t just blind the bully with His brilliant Light he brought him to his knees. Someday ever knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord. One of the most painful and yet profitable places we can be is flat on our faces before the Father. Sometimes God has to reduce us before He can rescue us. Its here that he hears a voice repeat his name twice: “Saul, Saul.”God repeated the name of Moses twice in Exodus 3 when he came before the burning bush to get his attention and warn him not to come any closer for that the place he was standing on was holy ground. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha”and “Simon, Simon”in order to correct them. What about you does the Almighty have your attention? When Saul got up he opened his eyes but could see nothing. His friends then take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. What a picture, the tough terrorist now led like a child. Not only did the light reduce him but it also:
- Revealed his heart
The Light didn’t just pierce his sight it pierced his soul with this probing question “Why do you persecute me?”Saul had been certain and confident that he was doing God’s work until he was confronted with the truth. He went from being convinced that he was right to convicted over his wrong. When he asked who was speaking to him the answer must have shaken him to his soul. He thought Jesus was dead and that members of the Way were mistaken. And then he hears the words, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”The phrase “I am” hearkens back to Exodus 3 when God Himself states: “I am who I am.”Jesus is the Great I Am. Also, I don’t want you to miss the connection between Jesus and his church. What is done to Christians is done to Christ. Jesus not only feels the pain of our persecution He takes it personally. Jesus reminds us that we are either for Him or against Him, you are either with Jesus or at war with Jesus. The light of the Lord revealed not only the hardness of his heart but also his hate. You can try to hide the hate of your heart behind your radical religion, but God’s light will reveal your real heart. God’s light didn’t just reduce and reveal its real power is seen in that it:
- Redirected the heart of a Rebel
Saul is now commanded to get up and go into the city and there awaited further instructions. Instead of being moved by anger and hate he is now being moved by the Messiah. No longer is it the letter of the law that is his authority but the Lord. Who or what are you listening to? I am not defined by my socioeconomic status, my skin color, my sex or even what society says, but by my Savior. Only the Master’s opinion matters. What voice are you listening to? You see Saul discovered that he was a sinner and that the Savior was alive. He went to arrest others with the law and was himself arrested by love. How do you know if you are living in the light, are you more motivated by the letter of the law or the love of the Lord, are you a legalist or a lover of God? Sadly, there are many who claim to be passionate for Christ but like Saul they are not living in the light they are living in legalism.