One of the great sins men often commit is a failure to have a proper fear of God. The Bible says: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:18 Today we will learn about a man who had to be taught what it means to fear God.
Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
During the early days of the church there was a terrorist named Saul of Tarsus. Scripture says that this young Pharisee did everything he could to oppose the name of Jesus. (see Acts 26:9) He traveled from town to town, searching for those who were called Christian and whenever he found any, he bound them in chains and brought them back to Jerusalem to be punished. Scripture says that with each breath he breathed, he made another threat concerning the church’s destruction. But then something strange happened to him. The man who had been a terrorist suddenly became someone who was terrified.
There are at least three things that caused Saul of Tarsus to be terrified:
1. He Was Terrified by the Event
The Bible says that Saul was suddenly surrounded by a light that was brighter than the noon-day sun. In addition, he heard a voice out of heaven that called him by his name. We should note also that 1 Corinthians 9:1 tells us that Saul actually saw the Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified form. So terrible were these events that it caused him to fall to the ground.
2. He Was Terrified by a Question
“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Jesus asked him. In response Saul said –“Who art thou, Lord?” The reply came – “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” At that moment Saul suddenly realized that he had not only been attacking people; he had been attacking God. Later in his life he described himself as one who was once a ‘blasphemer.’ (see 1 Tim 1:13) The thought that he had somehow been guilty of blaspheming God caused him to shake in terror.
3. He Was Terrified by His Own Conscience
Jesus said to him –“It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Some Bible translations do not include this phrase in Acts 9, yet Acts 26:14 reveals that it was a part of what Christ said. What does it mean to ‘kick against the pricks?’ A prick was sharp stick that was used to prod a stubborn animal. Like a foolish oxen that refused to obey its master’s commands, Saul had been kicking against what God was trying to reveal to him.
There is a careful balance that must be kept between knowing Christ as our intimate Friend and yet also reverencing His holiness. A few moments ago I was in a time of prayer. As I began to pray I thought about what our Lord said – “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:9-10) As I thought over these words I was reminded once again that my number one priority in prayer should be for God to be glorified.