Acts 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.
Paul was on a roll. The more he spoke about Christ, the stronger he felt himself becoming. Being a person of passion, he no doubt loved the feeling he was now experiencing. Yet Paul needed to learn another important lesson about what it means to follow Christ. Paul needed to learn the Importance of Taking Time for Spiritual Refreshment.
Having studied about Paul for many years, I’m sure that he try to brush off the threat of danger. Years later he would respond to such times with these words – “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (see Acts 21:13) Paul was ready to give his life for the cause of Christ, yet it was not time for him to die. His ministry wasn’t ending. It was only beginning.
Acts 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem…” To the casual reader this might seem like Paul went directly from Damascus to Jerusalem. However, other portions of scripture reveal to us that three years transpired between verses 25 and 26. What happened during those three years?
Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
A major portion of those three years were spent in the country of Arabia. Why did God take him there? No doubt it was to teach this passionate preacher the importance of taking time for spiritual refreshment. We should note that the word ‘Arabia’ means – desert or barren. God took Paul to a barren place. Or in other words, God forced Paul into a time of solitude. Many of God’s great men have had similar experiences. Moses did and so did David, Elijah, John the Baptist and even our Savior. Why was it important that Paul spend this time in solitude? Consider what he said – “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal 1:11-12) Christ forced Paul into a time of solitude so that He might teach him great spiritual truths.
It is good to read Christian books and to listen to what other great believers have to say; but more importantly it is absolutely necessary that we learn how to hear directly from the Lord. In order to hear God speak, we need to be still and quiet. God does not shout over the noise of this world. God speaks in a whisper. (see 1 Kings 19)