Saul was a very intelligent and educated man; he received the best education of the time. He was a Pharisee and son of one (Acts 23:6). Saul became a household name that Christians feared. He was on fire for the cause that burned within him. He believed all Christians should be exterminated and worked hard in trying to accomplish the goal.
Acts 9:3-6 (AMP)
3Now as he traveled on, he came near to Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, 4And he fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me [harassing, troubling, and molesting Me]? 5And Saul said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad [to offer vain and perilous resistance]. 6Trembling and astonished he asked, Lord, what do You desire me to do? The Lord said to him, But arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.
Saul was on a mission after getting approval from the high priest to allow him to “bring Christians bound [with chains] to Jerusalem” from Damascus (Acts 9:2). The fire and dedication he had for what he thought was right made him powerful in his own right. Christians were terrified of him because he appeared to be an unstoppable force.
Saul had one plan; the Lord had another. Jesus says, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.” Then the Lord tells him the dangers of continuing what he was doing to the Christians.
Just as the Lord warned Jezebel of her destruction if she continued with her disobedience, Saul is given the opportunity as well. He will always show us our sinful ways and allow us to make the decision to stop; or destruction of oneself is inevitable.
Could you imagine this powerful man trembling as he speaks to the Lord. Here is someone who, like Jezebel, was determined to destroy God’s people but once he heard His voice, he recognized who Jesus was. He feared God where Jezebel didn’t. They both had similar passion and fire for their actions. But only one of them recognized the higher power other than their own; Jesus!
Unlike Jezebel, Saul decides to follow the Lord’s instructions. He immediately was
Acts 9:15 (AMP)
…for this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel…
Saul became very instrumental in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles. He was used by God in a mighty way because of the obedience and fire for his cause. The cause was transformed from one extreme to another.
In whatever extreme we are in life, we have the reassurance the ‘extremes’ will be transformed to what the Lord plans for us. Saul’s strength was increased through the Holy Spirit. The Lord gives us the strength to tackle all that we go through in life if we just give it all to Him. When we accept the calling of our destiny in life, we are sure to know that we will be equipped for the assignment.
I Timothy 1:15-16 (AMP)
15The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost. 16But I obtained mercy for the reason that in me, as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might show forth and display all His perfect long-suffering and patience for an example to [encourage] those who would thereafter believe on Him for [the gaining of] eternal life.
Saul became Paul. With that name change, came a character change. He recognized he was the best of the worst sinners around. The wonderful part of this story was that he didn’t allow that to ruin him. He repented, unlike Jezebel, and walked into the mercy and provision the Lord had for him.
Let’s pray as we ask the Lord to transfer our fire to the cause for what the Lord has planned for us.