Begin with the End in Mind
Without a destination in mind, meandering from one point to another will take at least twice the time and cost at least twice the budget. Moral: plan your route before you begin your trip.
God does. Judges 13.1-12, Jeremiah 1.5, and John 3.27 state a progression of events showing that God births every child with His mission in mind, selecting only the appropriate DNA from father (Proverbs 23.22a) and mother (Proverbs 23.25b) that will prepare the child to complete His mission. This explains why, even, identical twin siblings mostly choose different professions.
God chooses us individually; later, God calls us specifically; throughout, God brings us the education and experiences of preparation in appropriate scope and sequence. Parents, educators, and employers must ask the two questions Samson’s father asked the Angel: what is the child’s mission?; how shall we prepare the child? (Judges 13.1-12) Thereafter, we must trust that God is, in fact, leading the child’s development for His mission. This is God’s statement in Proverbs 29.11-13. Acknowledge that God has a good plan in mind, and, then, respond to His encouragement to inquire about it and agree with it! Paraphrasing Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard: life is lived forward but understood backward (www.quora.com). How do you see God leading in your past?
As we look back over Apostle Paul’s life, we see God preparing him for His mission of proclaiming Jesus (John 14.6; 1 Corinthians 2.4-5) to the Jews and Gentiles (Colossians 2.8-10), as his journeys are recounted in the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God and through his thirteen books of the New Testament (ibid; I include Hebrews as number fourteen.) God chose Paul; God called Paul; God brought Paul to accomplish His mission, which Paul summarizes in Acts 26.16-18 and expresses completion in 2 Timothy 4.6-8.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary states that Paul was born about the same time as Jesus. Scholars believe Jesus’ birth occurred between 6-4 B.C. (www.livescience.com). Some reason Jesus’ birth at this time because of the Bible story of Herod the Great’s infanticide just before he died in 4 B.C. Other scholars have correlated Jesus’ birth “Star of Bethlehem” with a “slow- moving comet, which Chinese observers recorded in 5 B.C.” Astronomer Dave Reneke’s computer model timed the “Star” to the bright alignment of Venus and Jupiter on June 17, 2 B.C. You get the point: Paul was born about 4 B.C.
Paul was the name given for use in the Gentile world. Saul was his Hebrew name given by his father, a Jewish immigrant living in Tarsus. He had acquired Roman citizenship in one of several ways, which meant that his son was also a Roman citizen (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). God knew this passport would facilitate Paul’s travels, especially to Rome, for evangelism. So, you see that even parents may become servants of God’s plan for their progeny.
Paul describes his father as a Pharisee (Acts 23.6) from the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3.5). Strong sectarian beliefs of father and mother moulded Paul’s character from his youth, as he states in Philippians 3.6: “concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (ibid). God birthed Paul to parents who, without knowledge of God’s mission, prepared him for an introduction to Jesus on the road near Damascus (Acts 9.5, 22.8).
Paul’s primary years were in the rich educational environment of Tarsus. A famous university was there, “higher in reputation even than the universities of Athens and Alexandria, the only others that then existed” (ibid). At age 13 (9 A.D.), Paul was sent for rabbinical studies to Jerusalem. He became a student of “the celebrated rabbi Gamaliel, and here [Paul] spent many years in an elaborate study of the Scriptures and of the many questions concerning them with which the rabbis exercised themselves” (ibid). Rabbi’s were ministers, teachers, and lawyers…all in one. God gave Paul the best of secular and religious education in preparation for His mission.
Paul returned to Tarsus after his studies and remained there until just after Jesus was Crucified in 30 or 33 A.D. (When did Jesus Die? The Year, Day & Time, christianity.com, April 21, 2010). Paul was curious to learn “the particulars regarding the crucifixion, and the rise of the new sect of the ‘Nazarenes’” (ibid). Do you see how God was filling in Paul’s knowledge which the Holy Spirit would make understandable (1 Corinthians 2.9-12) for appealing to the Jews (Hebrews, especially 9.22-10.18) and debating with the philosophers of the day (Acts 17.22-31)? God ensures that His servants are well resourced!
God’s plan and its fulfillment began to make sense to Paul during the first three days after he was blinded by the light brighter than the noonday Sun. He thought deeply about Jesus’ words (Acts 9.3-6) in connection with his new knowledge of the Nazarene sect in the context of his rabbinical studies of the Old Testament, especially Deuteronomy 18.15-22 about the Prophet. This was the first of many conversations with Jesus (Galatians 1.12, 1 Corinthians 15.3-8, 2 Corinthians 12.1, 1 Thessalonians 4.15-18).
After Paul’s baptism (Acts 9.18) and some days with followers of Christ in Damascus, even preaching Christ in the synagogues (verse 20) under the threat of death (verses 23-25), he fled to Arabia (Galatians 1.17) for three years. “The historian passes over the incident. It is a mysterious pause, a moment of suspense, in the apostle’s history, a breathless calm, which ushers in the tumultuous storm of his active missionary life” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
Paul had lots of knowledge to understand from the Holy Spirit before he received the wisdom to use it for evangelizing the peoples to whom the Holy Spirit would send him (John 3.8). After briefly visiting the Apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 9.28-30), Paul returned to Tarsus, probably to share the Good News with his devout father and mother. God began; God prepared; God’s end! God’s mission was engaged!
Begin with the End in Mind 190929
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.