A light flashed around Saul when he approached Damascus. But what was this light like? It was an unordinary light. That is to say, it wasn’t like the sun that was probably already shining. In fact, it had to be brighter than the sun, moon, or any other light that shined. Furthermore, this light surrounded him. Unlike the sun, a lamp, the moon, or any other light we see normally, this light had no earthly reference point. It was like a light without end or beginning—an eternal light. This eternal light, Scripture says, is unapproachable and enough for all sight (1 Timothy 6:16; Revelation 21:23). By “all sight,” I mean physical and spiritual sight. But Scripture states that this light came from heaven. So is the light from the sky or a spiritual sky, such as eternal heaven? We must take this passage as literal, though it has figurative implications. For instance, a light can be eternal even though it “breaks” into the physical world. The most immediate example of this is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, being eternal and from heaven “broke the sky” to shine an eternal light to all humans. For instance, Scripture says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:4). Here, we see a combination of how eternal light operates in the physical world. So there are figurative and literal meanings to Saul’s experience. With that said, these meanings point to a light that flashes like lightning and envelops Saul.
So why did God show himself to Saul now? Saul was on the way to Damascus to further his efforts in killing Christians. So why does God confront Saul on the road to Damascus? Saul’s journey to Damascus deserves no praise. It neither seems that if Saul reached Damascus, he would destroy Christianity. In other words, Saul’s efforts to destroy Christianity would fail ultimately. This assumption is fair to make; Christianity was exploding. Christianity, before Saul’s conversion, spread exponentially. In fact, 3,000 people converted to Christianity in one day (Acts 2:41). Thus, it is unlikely Saul would have destroyed Christianity alone. But, as he probably knew, he could scare many people from Christianity. Still, Saul could not have been a threat to the omnipotence of God. God could have killed Saul and solved this problem in one strike. But why did God not do this? Why did God wait until Saul was on his way to Damascus? And why did God show himself to Saul instead of the high priest who gave Saul authority to capture and kill Christians in Damascus?
But why was Saul so hateful of Christians? Why did his hate prompt him to kill Christians? His hate already had success killing Christians. But this success did not satisfy him. This insatiable character is mentioned in a passage in Proverbs. In Proverbs, it says that “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (27:20). So, if the eyes of Saul wanted death and destruction, he could not be satisfied with death and destruction. How can a person not be satisfied with death and destruction? Well, this insatiable destroyer lives out the intentions of an insatiable Hell. For instance, Scripture says the grave or Hell never says, “Enough” (Proverbs 30:16). So it was this character—to never say enough—in Saul. Such an evil character shows how terrible evil is. Evil and people doing evil will not say enough. They will keep on wanting more and more destruction and death. That is just how evil operates.
Saul did not stop his threats to kill Christians. In fact, his desire to kill Christians led him to ask for permission to capture and kill Christians. This permission came from the high priest. At any rate, Saul knew the high priest would give him permission to kill Christians. So, Saul’s desire did not differ from the high priest. But why are we talking about Saul instead of the high priest? Well, the high priest was complicit in killing Christians. But Saul was extremely hateful. His hate drove him to take his search to the next level. This next level involved him not relying on his power to kill Christians, but a more powerful religious leader. So although the high priest had power, Saul was willing to do the dirty work of searching for Christians to kill. Saul did not mind getting his hands dirty in this work. Saul’s hate was not only in his thoughts or words, but his actions. It is one thing to think of harming a person. It is another thing to take steps to harm others. Still, the desire of Saul to kill Christians was the same as the high priest. Many religious leaders of this day had the same feelings as Saul.
God covered me. He covered us and watched us in the night. He watched us with our backs turned toward danger. Danger did not visit us. It has not singed our hairs. We do not smell like smoke. The destroyer passed by. He passed over our house. Jesus preserved my legacy. The blood of Jesus Christ runs through us. It covers us. Jesus keeps us under his protection forever. God cares for us extremely.
Similar to a regular job, work will not get itself done. That means people have to do the work. Likewise, people sometimes have to complete tasks under difficult circumstances. For instance, a job might need a person to create a 30-minute presentation in one day. This task may sound impossible. A person might have a coworker who swears constantly. Here, work might feel more like a tribulation. But despite such hard times, employers expect employees to still complete their job. This expectation exists with Christian faith. That is to say, despite the circumstances, Christians are expected to be faithful. This faithfulness produces godly actions.
So we know faith without actions is dead. But we should not assume actions develop naturally. Instead, we must use actions. Here, actions translate to “work.” But what is the importance of thinking of actions as work? Most of us think work relates to a job. A job is like a profession or a vocation. Similarly, people might say a job is their calling. Nevertheless, if we think of actions as work or employment, we can think of godly actions as part of a contract. By as part of a contract, I mean being a part of an agreement. This agreement to produce godly actions, thus, comes from a working relationship with Jesus Christ. In a sense, this contract is not negotiable. When people are employed, they use their skills for a task. Likewise, when Christians are employed, they use their faith for tasks, jobs, and sometimes tribulations.
Lord, you are my shepherd that I will not want (Psalm 23:1). How can I want anything when you supply my every need (Philippians 4:19)? Am I not rich in Jesus to be rich in good works (1 Timothy 6:18)? So what is there in life to give other than my life to give. In other words, is not my life the only thing I can sacrifice to you, Lord? How can I not offer my body, mind, and strength as a living sacrifice, which is holy and acceptable to you (Romans 12:1)?
Lord, you* are greater than all things. Did you not create all things? Is not everything made by you (John 1:3)? The water, air, earth, animals, plants, people, and universe are your creation. What is not subject to you, Lord? The rocks on the ground are even subject to your rule. In fact, if you allowed them to, they would praise your name (Luke 19:40). What would these rocks say other than what is true? Would they say, “Please save us now in the highest degree! Save us eternally!” And it is for this reason you came to the world. You came to save us by meeting your hour of gruesome death (John 12:27). But this death could not keep you in the tomb.
Still, the apostle James says faith without actions is dead. Therefore, James implicitly says that faith is alive. But how is faith alive? We can answer this question by seeing how faith can be dead. Dead faith, James says, is faith without actions. Therefore, actions are necessary for faith to be alive. Now, we could focus on what such actions are. But for the moment, focusing on faith as action-producing is enough.