Prophetic warning and spiritual direction
Scripture reading for June 3rd: Acts 21
After leaving the elders of Ephesus, Paul went on towards Jerusalem. Disembarking from the ship he was traveling on, they stopped at Tyre. They found some disciples there and stayed with them while the ship was unloading cargo. “Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21:4) Paul listened but felt compelled to go on towards Jerusalem. These believers were hearing what the Spirit was saying about the suffering that Paul would endure and sought to warn him. But Paul felt directed to go, even if there was suffering involved!
At another stop, Paul reached Caesarea and stayed with Philip the evangelist who was one of the first seven deacons. (Acts 6:5) There a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea and came over to Paul, ” . . .he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will had him over to the Gentiles.'” (Acts 21:11) When all who were with Paul heard this, they pleaded with Paul not to go.
Notice that the warning given here by Agabus did not forbid Paul to go, but only told what would happen to him. His friends did not want him to suffer. But Paul had already heard from God himself and knew he was supposed to go. “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” (Acts 21:13-14) Prophesy in the New Testament is not directive, but used to confirm God’s will.