Paul and Arabia
After his conversion, Paul preached the truths of Jesus Christ and he “increased the more in strength. And he confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ” (Acts 9:22). But many hardened their hearts, and didn’t want to respond to his message. And this opposition grew into a fierce hatred that Paul was not permitted to continue his ministry at Damascus. So, the Spirit of God led him and he “went into Arabia” (Galatians 1:17) where he found a safe retreat.
There, in the isolation of the desert, Paul had much time for quiet study and meditation on the Word of God. He examined his sad past experience and made sure of his repentance. He sought the Lord with all his heart, claiming His promises for forgiveness and pardon of his sin.
In addition, he cleared his mind from the prejudices and traditions that had formed his life, and studied the Scriptures instead. Jesus taught him and established him in the faith, giving him a great portion of wisdom and grace. The Lord calls all of His faithful children saying, “Acquaint now thyself with Him” (Job 22:21).
Thus, Paul fulfilled the Lord’s command that was given to him through Ananias saying: “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:13-16).
Ananias words were in line with the words of Jesus Himself, who, when He met Saul on the journey to Damascus, declared: “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me” (Acts 26:16-18).
As Paul thought of these words, he realized clearly the meaning of his call “to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1). His calling had come, “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father” (Galatians 1:1). The greatness of the work before him led him to study the Scriptures deeply, in order that he might preach the gospel “not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect,” “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” that the faith of all who heard “should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:4, 5).
As Paul examined the Word of God, he learned that throughout the ages “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). And so, seeing the wisdom of the world in the light of the Calvary, Paul “determined not to know anything, . . . save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
From Arabia and filled with the Spirit, Paul “returned again unto Damascus” (Galatians 1:17), and “preached boldly . . . in the name of Jesus.” Unable to withstand the wisdom of his arguments, “the Jews took counsel to kill him.” The gates of the city were diligently guarded day and night to cut off his escape. This crisis led the disciples to seek God earnestly, and finally they “took him by night, and let him down through the wall, lowering him in a basket” (Acts 9:25). And thus, he escaped.
In His service,