I can't help but read chapter 18 of Acts and smile. All throughout this portion of Luke's story, he seems to have placed subtle little reminders of just how in control our God is of all circumstances. I don't know if Luke intended to drop these little "hints" of if I just happen to read them that way, but they jump off the page every time I read this chapter. Take a look for yourself:
Isn't it a coincidence ... that Claudius had decided to issue an imperial edict kicking all the Jews out of Rome?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that Aquila and his wife Priscilla just happened to have been living in Rome when this decree was issued?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that out of all the places in the world they could have moved, Aquila and Priscilla decided to move to Corinth?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that this couple just happened to be tent-makers, the same trade that the apostle Paul had learned growing up in Tarsus? And that they would provide Paul not only a place to live while in Corinth, but a source of income to support his ministry?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that this exiled Jewish couple would end up being two of the first converts to Christianity in Corinth?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that when Paul decided to turn his back on the Jews and take his message to the Gentiles, that Titius Justus, a Gentile worshiper of God, just happened to live next door to the synagogue?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, ended up coming to Christ, even though the Jews had initially "resisted and blasphemed" as a result of Paul's ministry to them?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, refused to listen to the Jews' trumped up charges against Paul, rejecting their accusations and freeing Paul to continue his ministry there?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that Aquila and Priscilla were willing to leave their business behind in Corinth to follow Paul all the way to Ephesus?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that upon arriving in Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla just happen to find that Apollos, a Jew with a Greek name who grew up in an Egyptian city, has recently arrived in Ephesus, and is teaching about Jesus and debating with the Jews in the synagogue?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that this very educated man, who was very knowledgeable in the Hebrew scriptures, knew about Yahweh, the teachings of Jesus, and the preaching of John the Baptist, just happened to meet Aquila and Priscilla, who were able to tell him "the rest of the story" and lead him to Christ?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that Apollos had the desire to move on to Achaia, the very place where the Jews had tried to have Paul convicted?
Isn't it a coincidence ... that Apollos, this recently converted Jew, was able to help those who had come to Christ is Achaia and successfully refute the Jews there, while Paul had only stirred them up, causing them to drag him before the proconsul?
Isn't it a coincidence ...?
What a God?
You see it all throughout the book of Acts. The amazing intervention of our almighty God as He works behind the scenes to accomplish His divine will in His own unique way. There are no coincidences when it comes to God. There is just His sovereign will being worked out in the lives of men and women -- including those who know and love Him, as well as those who, like Claudius and Gallio, stand opposed to Him.
God's sovereignty is visible throughout the pages of the book of Acts. It is a not-so-subtle reminder that it's God Who is orchestrating events and accomplishing His plan through the lives of men, not the other way around. I am sure Claudius thought he was in control when he gave the edict kicking all the Jews out of Rome. But God had a bigger plan. I am sure Aquila and Priscilla had perfectly good reasons for their choice of Corinth as the new headquarters for their tent-making business. But God had an even better reason with eternal ramifications. I am sure Titius Justus was confident that his selection of a home that backed right up to the synagogue was his idea. But God had something more important in mind that just a good real estate investment.
You see, God is always at work -- even when we can't see Him. He is working behind the scenes, moving in ways that are invisible to us, but that end up impacting us, in significant ways. We would like to take a lot, if not all, of the credit for the things that happen in our lives. But when we do, we fail to acknowledge that God is bigger than our puny plans. And chapter 18 is a reminder to remember that very fact. He is going ahead of me. He stands behind me. He always surrounds me. No politician can thwart His plan. No amount of opposition can stop His plan. No distance can limit His plan. No misguided religious establishment can confuse His plan.
What a comfort?
So what are we worried about? God is in control. He knows what He's doing. He has a plan and He is working it to perfection. He can be trusted. And that should bring us all comfort.
Father, thank you for reminding me that You are in control. You are in heaven orchestrating the details surrounding my life. Long before I know it, You are moving behind the scenes, arranging for an Aquila and Priscilla to come into my life. You are moving politicians and people in positions of power, to make decisions they think are their own, that will end up accomplishing Your will. I have no reason to fear their edicts and decrees, because my God is bigger than their most perverse plan. What they mean for evil, You will use for our good and Your own glory. Help me to remember that each and every day. Amen