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Justice Delayed


Although Thanksgiving Day was first proclaimed as a national holiday in the United States by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, its roots go back to the first harvest celebration observed by the pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. They had begun in Nottinghamshire, England, and moved to the Netherlands. After twelve years, they relocated again to Plymouth. The reason for these moves was to worship without fear of persecution. Like Paul’s, their mission was affected by political forces beyond their control.

Although Paul initially waited only five days before his first audience with Felix, the governor adjourned the trial without making a decision. One reason for the delay was Paul’s use of the legal system to his advantage by arguing that key witnesses in his case were not present (v. 19). But Paul’s case was delayed even further after Felix invited him to speak about his faith in Christ (v. 24). The moral tone of Paul’s message, with its warning of coming judgment, so alarmed Felix that he abruptly ended the audience (v. 25). This delay was motivated by a combination of guilt and greed. No doubt, Felix’s history of marital infidelity made him uncomfortable. He also hoped that Paul would offer him a bribe (v. 26).

God used these unworthy motives to create an opportunity for Paul to share the gospel. During the two-year hiatus, Felix would often send for Paul and talk with him. Paul’s prospects did not improve when Porcius Festus, the new governor of Judea, replaced Felix. Instead of deciding Paul’s case or choosing to release him, Felix left Paul in prison.

>> What about you? Are you feeling stuck in God’s waiting room today? While it is no doubt frustrating, these times of delay are not necessarily a deviation from God’s plan. Trust God’s hand to set the next stage of your life. Let Him work in and through you, even during your waiting time.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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