Sometimes we can feel like history is stacked against us, can’t we?
Maybe it’s in the way your family has lived and worked, maybe it’s the places that your family has historically lived.
Either way, there can often be familial and historical pressures and traditions to maintain. In Acts 25.13 we see the next instalment, so to speak, of another family’s work:
“After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus.”
Read around the family history of King Agrippa and you will see that
“The godfather of the Herod clan was Herod the Great, the king when Jesus was born and one who tried to have Him killed (Matthew 2). Herod Antipas ruled during the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. He is the one who had John executed (Mark 6) and sat in judgment at one of Jesus’ trials (Luke 23:7–12). Herod Agrippa I was king of Judea for a few years and the one who had James executed. His death is recorded in Acts 12.”
So, simply, Paul will now find himself on trial before a family that has a proven track record of killing and trying to kill key figures in the faith (ch.26). A fourth generation of persecutor cannot have left Paul feeling upbeat about his upcoming trial. Rather, perhaps this left him feeling deflated: it is almost certain that Paul would have known the history, known the family, known before whom he was going to stand and testify.
For you and for me, it can be all too easily to think that just because our families have behaved in a certain way before, lived in a certain place before, fallen at certain hurdles and to certain sins that we are ‘destined’ to do the same. As Paul might have felt destined to succumb to the same fate as John the Baptist and James, we can all too easily feel destined to make the same mistakes those before us have made.
However, Lamentations tell us that
It is of the LORD‘s mercies that we are not consumed,
Because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
Great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul;
Therefore will I hope in him.
(Lamentations 3.22-24, KJV)
We are never destined to make the same mistakes and commit the same sins as those before us. God’s mercies towards you are new every morning, His faithfulness is great, and just as Paul will take a very different path at the hand of a Herod, so too we are free to choose to take a different path to those who have gone before us, should we choose. The LORD is [our] portion [and we] will hope in Him, not in how events have happened before.