“For, behold, he is praying.” – Acts 9:11
GOD has many methods of quenching persecution. He will not suffer His church to be injured by its enemies, or overwhelmed by its foes. And He is not short of means for turning aside the way of the wicked, or of turning it upside down. In two ways He usually accomplishes His end–sometimes by the confusion of the persecutor and at others in a more blessed manner, by his conversion. Sometimes He confuses and confounds His enemies–He makes the diviner mad. He lets the man who comes against Him be utterly destroyed, suffers him to drive on to his own destruction and then at last turns round in triumphant derision upon the man who hoped to have said aha! aha! to the Church of God.
But at other times, as in this case, He converts the persecutor. Thus, He transforms the foe into a Friend. He makes the man who was a warrior against the Gospel, a soldier for it. Out of darkness He brings forth light. Out of the eater He gets honey, yes, out of stony hearts He raises up children unto Abraham. Such was the case with Saul. A more furious bigot it is impossible to conceive. He had been bespattered with the blood of Stephen when they stoned him to death–so officious was he in his cruelty, that the men left their clothes in the charge of a young man named Saul. Living at Jerusalem, in the college of Gamaliel, he constantly came in contact with the disciples of the Man of Nazareth.
He laughed at them, he reviled them as they passed along the street. He procured enactments against them and put them to death. And now, as a crowning point, this werewolf, having tasted blood, becomes exceedingly mad. He determines to go to Damascus, that he may glut himself with the gore of men and women–that he may bind the Christians and bring them to Jerusalem–there to suffer what he considered to be a just punishment for their heresy and departure from their ancient religion. But oh, how marvelous was the power of God! Jesus stays this man in his mad career–just as with his lance in rest he was dashing against Christ, Christ met him, unhorsed him, threw him on the ground and questioned him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
He then graciously removed his rebellious heart–gave him a new heart and a right spirit–turned his aim and object–led him to Damascus–laid him prostrate for three days and nights–spoke to him–made mystic sounds go murmuring through his ears–set his whole soul on fire. And when at last he started up from that three day’s trance and began to pray, then it was that Jesus from Heaven descended, came in a vision to Ananias and said, “Arise and go into the street which is called Straight and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus–for, behold, he is praying.”
First, our text was an announcement–“Behold he is praying.” Secondly, it was an argument–“For, behold, he is praying.” Then, to conclude, we will try to make an application of our text to your hearts. Though application is the work of God alone we will trust that He will be pleased to make that application while the Word is preached this morning.
- First, here was AN ANNOUNCEMENT–“Go inquire for Saul of Tarsus–for behold, he is praying.” . . .