I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon,
that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you…
And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
Philippians 2:19, 24 (NIV)
At the time Paul writes the verses above, he is a prisoner of the feared Roman ruler Nero. A lot of material has been written about Nero and it makes for some dreadful reading. Nero and his mother, who was the wife of the Roman emperor Claudius, plotted together to murder Claudius in order to assure that Nero would ascend to the throne in Rome.
After Nero was safely settled as the Roman emperor he realized that his life could be in danger because his mother helped murder the previous Caesar. Now that he was Caesar, he decided it would be prudent to murder his mother and so he did.
So Paul was the prisoner of this despotic ruler of the nation. On a whim Caesar could have anyone put to death. Hence, Paul’s life was in the balance. In other words it was entirely possible that Caesar would murder the apostle just because he decided to do so.
Nero answered to no one but himself and his evil mind dreamed up various plots to murder people to whom he disliked. No one got in the way of Nero for fear of a quick death.
Yet, for all the danger Paul was in, he wrote about his possible future activities as being dependent on the Lord and not Nero. Is this not amazing?
Paul says, “I hope in the Lord…I am confident in the Lord…” It is as though Nero did not matter one tiny bit. And, of course, Nero did not matter to Paul.
The great apostle was well aware of the disgustingly evil man who ruled the Roman empire. But Paul also knew the One Who ruled over the hearts and minds of the most powerful humans.
It says in Proverbs 21:1 (NIV) “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.”
So we see that even the most powerful people on earth are the servants of the great God of the universe. Everything is under the control of the God Who made us.
In times of sorrow and distress it is good to think as Paul did. We ought to recognize that God is all powerful and rules everything for the ultimate good of His people.
So, instead of saying, “If the rulers allow us to meet and worship, if my health holds out I shall do this or that.” It is never a matter of the government, it is not a matter of our own strength. Everything revolves around God Who is the ruler of everything.
Do you know who is in charge? Are you submissive to His sovereign will? Today, renew your vows to serve the Lord—whatever happens. See that His will shall prevail and be glad in that fact.