Today’s Bible reading is Zechariah 13 and Acts 16.
Three different groups of people are “shaken” in Acts 16.
One group of men owned “a slave girl” possessed by “a spirit of divination” who brought her owners “much gain by fortune-telling” (16:16). When the apostle Paul commanded the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ, “it came out that very hour.” What wonderful news for that girl! But her owners? Their hope was shaken. This meddler had come to town and messed up everything! They couldn’t care less about the well-being of the girl, all they knew was “their hope of gain was gone” (16:19), and it made them furious. Paul and Silas were dragged before the authorities, beaten with rods, and arrested.
When the foundations are shaken, what we are hoping for and in really matters. For these men, hope was gone.
One group of men spent the next few hours in prison. Paul and Silas had brought the gospel of King Jesus to the Roman colony of Philippi. They’d spent time along a river, at a place of prayer, sharing the good news with a group of women. Lydia and her household had been baptized. What wonderful news! Now, Paul and Silas were in the city’s inner prison with their feet fastened in stocks. “Many blows” had been inflicted upon them. It was midnight after a rough day. But theirhope wasn’t gone. “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (16:25).
When the foundations are shaken, what we are hoping for and in really matters. For these men, hope was alive and well.
One man almost took his life that night.
Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. (16:26-29)
When the foundations are shaken, what we are hoping for and in really matters. For this man, hope was no longer in an earthly empire or social status or job security. For this man, hope was hanging by the thread of the most important question of all.
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (16:30-34)
Three different groups were “shaken” in Acts 16.
One group got angry. Their hope was gone, so they resorted to violence.
One group was steadfast. Their hope was alive, so they prayed and sang hymns to God at midnight.
One man was desperate. His only hope was the Lord Jesus, so he was baptized at once and rejoiced with his entire household as a new day dawned.
When the foundations are shaken, what we are hoping for and in really matters.