"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Raising The Standard: Alertness Is Acting Quickly Upon Signals Of Danger

If we do not warn the wicked to turn from their wicked way, they will die in their iniquity; but their blood will be upon our hands. God repeats this warning twice in Scripture to emphasize its importance (Ezekiel 3:18; 33:8). God further instructs us to rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death. We are not to stand idly by and allow them to die. We have a responsibility to act upon what we know. The entire Christian world has been enriched by the ministry of one man whose life was saved when an alert bystander acted quickly upon the signals of danger which he observed. Tragedies have occurred because vital informaiton was not quickly or accurately reported to the right people. Who acted quickly with the information he learned and so saved the life of the greatest apostle to the Gentile world? A young man, Paul's nephew.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Allertness In Acting Quickly Upon Signals Of Danger?
Clanking chains scraped along the stone floor and echoed throughout the dimly-lit prison. Well-trained guards stood at their posts. A breathless young man entered and was given permission to speak privately to a special prisoner. He quietly and carefully explained what he knew. A deadly plot had been devised that morning. Forth men bound themselves together under an oath to kill this innocent man. They vowed neither to eat nor drink until they had accomplished their wicked scheme. Their plan was to ask the chief captain of the guiard to bring this prisoner to their coucil the following day on the pretense that they wished to question him. But before the prisoner could reach the coucil, these men would murder him. The young man had done an excellent job in securing facts and clearly explaining them to the one whose life depended on the accuracy of the report. When the prisoner realized what was planned, he called one of the guards and said, "Bring this man to the chief captain for he has something important to tell him." The guard brought the young man to the chief captain who took him aside privately to ask what he ahd to say. Once again he explained, "You will receive a request to bring your prisoner to the council tomorrow. But don't do it; for forth men are lying in wait to kill him. They have bound themselves to an oath that they will neither eat nor drink utnil they have carried out their scheme." When he heard this, the chief captain commanded the young man not to tell anyone else what he knew. Then he called two officers and ordered, "Make ready two hundred soldiers and seventy mounted cavalry and two huundred spearmen. Give our prisoner a horse to ride, and be ready to leave at nine o'clock tonight." In the darkness of the night this heavily armed detachment marched and road out of the barracks, bringing the prisone to the safety of another province. From their he was taken to other cities. As he went, he boldly proclaimed the message God had given him. His speaking and his letters continued to bring counsel, comfort, and warning to many people. All those who have benefited from the later ministry of the apostle Paul owe a debt of gratitude to his alert nephew who acted quickly upon signals of danger. (From Acts 23:6-35)
Was Any Risk Involved In What Paul's Nephew Did?
The fact that Paul's nephew heard of the plot indicates that he may have been associated in some way with the schemers. It has been suggested that this nephew's mother, Paul's sister, married into a high priestly family. The nephew may have overheard the plot being discussed in his own home. Paul's father was a Pharisee, and his family seems to have disinherited him after his conversion (Acts 23:6; cf. Philippians 3:8). Paul's nephew risked complete isolation from his Jewish family and friends for betraying this wicked scheme. If he had been sent to Jerusalem as a rabbinical student like his uncle (Acts 22:3), he could have faced expulsion. History records that the high priest, Ananias, was a Sadducee who often worked closely with Roman rulers. Paul's nephew had no guarantee that the chief captian, Claudius, would not eventually reveal the identy of his informant to Ananias. That could have resulted in execution at the hands of the same fanatical Jews who had vowed to kill Paul.
Why Did The Chief Captain Act So Quickly?
Before the captian would send 470 of his 1,000 soldiers on a long, night expedition, one would think he would investigate the account more thoroughly, especially when reported by only one young witness. But claudius was only too well acquianted with the insane, irrational hatred of the Jews toward Paul. They had rioted three times against him in the last two days (Acts 21:20; 22:22; 23:10). The main reason Claudius wished to take no chances with the life of this prisoner was that he knew Paul was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:3, 25-29). Claudius had paid a great sum of money to become a naturalized Roman (Acts:28). If he allowed Paul to be assassinated without a trial, he would have jeopardized his entire career. He was thinking of himself, not Paul, when he acted so hastily.
Why Did Paul's Nephew Respond To The Danger For The Sake Of His Uncle?
If Paul's nephew was an open and declared Christian, the reason for his intervention would be obvious. But the fact that he even knew of the plot indicates that someone thought he could be trusted with the information. The nephew, a student of the Old Testament, knew the plot of the supposed religious leaders was contrary to God's standards of justice. He may have memorized, "A true witness delivereth souls, but a deceitful witness speaketh lies." (Proverbs 14:25) His uncle had been falsely accused. There was neither concrete evidence nor reliable witness that he had brought a Gentile into the restricted temple area (Acts 21:28-29). He also knew that Mosiac command, "And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he does not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity." (Leviticus 5:1) Paul's alert nephew knew the truth of his uncle's innocence, and he knew the deceit of the assassins. Hense, he was responsible to avert this terrible crime lest he be guilty of being partner to the spilling of innocent blood.
How Does The Myotis [Brown] Bat Illustrate Alertness By Acting Quickly Upon Signals Of Danger? Beep-beep-beep-beep . . . The object moved so swiftly it was hard to track in the blackened sky. Even when it flew within the arc of light from a lamp-post, it was still difficult to detect. The creature darted in different directions at many angles as it zigzagged through the air.
When morning light began to break, the little form made its way underneath a wooden shingle where it would rest for the day. As the sun rose and activity began, the bat's rest was about to be disturbed. Two nights before, a heavy thunderstorm revealed a leak in the roof of the summer cottage. It just so happened that the location of the leak was beneath one of the shingles where the bat rested. During the storm, a young man had mentally marked the leaky spot. Equipped with a ladder and a hammer, he climbed the rungs to expose the leak and repair it. As he lifted one of the shingles, he noticed the sleeping brown bat. Quickly he covered it, hurried down the ladder, and returned with a jar. Lifting the shingle once again, he positioned the jar and forced the bat to drop in. This little creature would provide many hours of study and entertainment*. As the young student fed and cared for the animal, it became quite a pet. When the bat grew more and more accustomed to its surroundings, its keeper granted it the freedom of his bedroom at night. He would do this by leaving open the door to its cage. Quite an attachment grew between the two. In the evening, on entering the room, the boy would call the bat, and the animal would come. At feeding time, the boy tossed insects into the air one at a time and watched with fascination as the agile bat scooped them up and ate them. He experimented and tried to trick the animal by throwing them at odd angles forcing the little bat to perform acrobatics. Rarely did it miss a morsel. The boy was continually amazed at the bat's ability to weave gracefully around objects and never hit one. One hot summer evening the boy was reading in his room. The air was so warm that he could not concentrate. Unable to get relief from the open screened window, he went to the attic to bring down an old fan. Upon his return he calculated the best position to give the most circulation and turned it on "low". Some time later the little bat came out from resting in its cage and began to fly around. The boy paid little attention to him at first. It didn't occur to him that the bat might be in danger, and he never gave it a thought until it was too late, the bat was on its way into the revolving blades of the fan! That split second before the bat entered the fan, feelings of sadness and loss shot through the boy's mind. Why had he not been more responsible? How could he have been so thoughtless? The blades were whirring around at 800 revolutions per minute. To his amazement, the bat quickly slipped through the fan without as much as touching a blade. Feelings of joy and relief came over him,. He didn't lose the bat after all. But as he sat there recovering from his amazement he wondered what might have happened had the switch been set to "high" with the blades spinning at a speed of 1200 revolutions per minute. The better part of judgment told him not to, but he turned the fan switch to "high" and the bat took on the challenge. Its high-pitched beep was barely audible over the noise of the fan. The sounds which the bat emits are essential to its flight. As it flies, high-pitches noises are emitted at the rate of 30 per second. The comparison is approximately 30,000 cycles. As the echos are bounced back, the bat transmits more signals until they return at the rate of 50 to 60 per second. This echo is like a messenger. It tells the bat the heading of the obstacle. It also defines the location, size, and shape of the obstacle and allows the bat to avoid collisions. As the little pet bat was just about to go through the fan a second time, it suddenly made a last minute, 90-degree turn and quickly darted away from the spinning blades. The message the animal received had alerted it to danger, informing it that it could not safely pass through. The brown bat wisely and swiftly altered its course, acting quickly upon the signal of danger.
Scriptural References To The Bat "And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination... the lapwing, and the bat." ~ Leviticus 11:13-19
God included the bat in His list of unclean creatures among those which are " an abomination among the fowls." This may refer to their ability to transmit infectious diseases to man. The Hebrew name for bat means "flies by night." Bats of the Holy Land lived among the many limestone caves of that area. The many varieties of bats in the land vary from the size of a mouse to the size of a rat.
"In that day (of God's judgment) a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord..." ~ Isaiah 2:20-21
It is significant that in the verse above God associates the final destination of man-made idols with the home of the bat. Both represent a world of darkness. The bat normally comes out at night to do its work. God points out that men of evil deeds "love darkness rather than light... Neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (John 3:19-20) The unpredictable flight pattern of a bat reminds us of the ways of a person who has turned from worshiping the living God to serve a god of his own making (Proverbs 5:6).

No comments: