Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; rather, I went away into Arabia and returned again to Damascus.”
Paul, in Galatians 1:15-17
When as a young man, Paul discovered that he had been hurting God’s chosen people, it devastated him. He had tried from his childhood to serve God; he had listened and obeyed the greatest teachers of God’s holy Law that Israel had to offer. He knew he was right because he knew they were right. If it pleased the high priest for Paul to persecute believers in foreign cities as well as in Judea, then he gladly did it, and he expected a great reward from God for doing so. But when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and Paul learned that he had been deceived, his whole life fell apart. From that time, Paul refused ever again to trust any man, including himself.
Peter and James and John were holy and wise men. Paul knew they were living in Jerusalem, but Paul didn’t care. He would not trust them. Paul was determined to hear from God Himself or die. He would not take the chance that the apostles of Jesus were wrong, as the greatest rabbis had been wrong. This is the reason Paul went to Arabia.
Paul knew the Bible extremely well. He had studied the Scriptures diligently from the early days of childhood. He was well acquainted with the story of Elijah. He knew that when Elijah had no one he could trust, he left Israel and went into the desert to Mount Sinai, where no man lived, to hear from God without interference from man. Paul does not tell us that he went to Mount Sinai; instead, he says simply that he went into Arabia. But in the fourth chapter of Galatians, Paul tells us that Mount Sinai is in Arabia, and that is where this completely broken young man went. God was waiting for him there.
When God had finished communing with Paul, there was a new gospel in the earth, the gospel for the Gentiles, which was different from the gospel Peter and the other apostles preached to the Jews. And it was to become the only gospel that God approved of, for Peter’s gospel for the circumcised nation faded away within a few generations as fewer and fewer Jews came to believe in their Messiah. In AD 70, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, it was all over because the Law could no longer be kept. There was no temple to provide a place for carrying out the rites of Moses’ Law. Peter’s gospel for the Jews was dead. Only Paul’s remained.
The eventual result of Paul’s going to Mount Sinai was that the eternal gospel was revealed, the holy gospel that was to replace the gospel which the disciples of Jesus began. But before God could get Paul to come to Him at Mount Sinai, He had to crush the young man’s dreams, humiliate him, frighten him, and make him despair of any hope of human help. Paul’s life, as he had planned it, ended when Jesus appeared to him along the road to Damascus, but the new life he found was well worth the pain he suffered to find it.