Eternity Part II ~ Saul and Paul ©
by Nancy Reil Riojas
The word evil derives from Devil. Evil doings have not changed much since the beginning of time, with the exception of more of them. Lucifer, the Devil and Jehovah, our God, battle over us: your children, your wife, your husband, your neighbors, your friends, everyone you know, and everyone you will ever and never know. The devil’s goal is our total destruction which begins with our sins. We sinners (that’s all of us) have starring roles in The Holy Bible, featuring deceit, murder, lust, revenge, persecution, prosecution, greed, fornication, hardships such as starvation, disease, mental illness, and more.
Why would God include shocking, brutal facts for us to read? Answer: to guide us away from our own destruction. Read about Christians' blood which covered the coliseum floor while crowds of cheering pagans screamed for more bloodshed. Read about sex, the blind made to see, the dead risen, the Immaculate Conception, multiple miracles performed and more.
If you can spare five minutes to read about any person in the Bible, choose Jesus first, particularly his miracles and quoted, compelling words in the Book of Matthew (usually in red), deliberately spoken in simple terms so that the uneducated multitude would fully understand his intent and purpose.
Choose the absolutely moving, chilling history of Saul, his Hebrew name, and Paul, his Roman name. He was the most prolific, religion-based assassin of Christians ―turned Christian! A first century icon, Saul of Tarsus was born into a Jewish Orthodox family in the approximate year 4 B.C.E. (Before the Christian Era which was before the crucifixion of Jesus). He was a well-learned man, educated by Rabban Gamaliel, higher than a rabbi. Saul became a Roman citizen, an Orthodox Pharisee (the priesthood that ruled over all Jews), was respected by his Pharisee peers, viciously enforced the six hundred Jewish Mosaic Laws, and hated Jewish Christians because they believed in Jesus, a Galilean from Galilee, who taught justice and grace and knew that the Pharisees were the most impure of all. Jesus' massive following, the meekest of Jews, became a threat to the Pharisees in that they feared if Jesus was in fact their savior as prophesized by Isaiah a thousand years before, then the Pharisees would lose their positions. (Does this sound like our government today?)
So they instigated his murder. After Jesus was crucified by the Romans and rose from the grave, he appeared in both flesh and spirit eleven times over a period of years. During a return he confronted Saul on the road to Damascus. A sudden, heavenly light shined bright. Saul's horse bucked Saul to the ground. A voice proclaimed, "Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Saul responded, "Who are you, . . . Lord?" The reply was, "I am Jesus." Saul was nervous and knew this man, who he maintained was not the Messiah, was known as the greatest influencer of righteousness in history, but he was supposed to be dead.
Jesus instantly struck Saul blind for several reasons, one was for Saul to understand that the man who stood before him was in fact the true Messiah. Having commanded brutal deaths of thousands of Christians, Saul, outfitted in Pharisee garb, now crawled on the sandy ground terrified and squirmed like a snake while crying out, "I cannot see!" Not only did Jesus take this drastic action to curtail the slaughter of his own Christian followers, but Saul was deeply entrenched with the devil. In addition, Jesus was well aware that mankind recognized Saul as the most hated man alive, mass murderer of Christians. And for that reason, Jesus had planned to reverse Saul's hateful zeal, envisioning Saul becoming Jesus' most influential apostle.
When Jesus would convert Saul, imagine the impact on non-believers! "This butcher of Christians is now a follower of Jesus?!" And that is exactly what transpired. Jesus drew Saul nearer until Saul slumped in shame, realizing the wrong in his thinking, repented, and accepted Jesus as his savior. Thereafter, using his name Paul, he served as the most far-reaching, loyal apostle, having traveled across the continent to teach the Gospel of Jesus, and converted thousands upon thousands of non-Christians to Christians, for who better for them to believe?
Records indicate he arrived as far away as modern day Britain, France, and Spain, founded several churches and later became a saint. (A statue of St. Paul stands in Malta, near a cemetery where Paul first planted the Cross of Christ and delivered to the people the holy faith.) By Paul’s tongue and the history of his own miraculous conversion, downtrodden killers, rapists, thieves, husbands, wives already swallowed by the devil became Christians, and since have basked in their glorious eternity (that would be over 2,000 years so far). It may be safe to say that Paul was the King Apostle, who also converted many Pharisees, and still reserved time to write more than one half of the Bible's New Testament before his violent death, hunted down like all the Jesus disciples, except for John, and beheaded by Nero in 67 A.D. (it is believed).
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Notes to Share in Closing
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, he was brought in for the crime of blasphemy and interrogated by Pontius Pilate, the Roman regional governor. Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to these Jews.”
If you watch Netflix, search for “The Holy Bible” series. Never have Bible stories been so well depicted, moving, enthralling, and truly fine actors! And yes, the tenth episode "Saul (or Paul?)" will send chills down your spine! Also, the ten years in the making film, Risen, is said to be an epic and will soon show in theatres.
For the reason that we all sin, not only will you see yourself in the Bible, but your brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, father, friends, neighbors, co-workers also demonstrate a role. The captivating “Ahh, Hahh” moments awaken your spirit, imperative for embracing the greatest man who ever lived and shoving the Devil aside.