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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Saul, Receive Thy Sight: The Healing of Divine Blindness

Saul was on the road to Damascus, enraged. These 'little christs' (Christians) , followers of the way, had been nothing but trouble since the day that itinerate rabbi from Galilee started preaching. Saul had stood in the background like many, and let the Sanhedrin handle things: they thought it was over when Annas and Caiaphas turned him over to Rome for crucifixion, but it wasn't but a few days and the followers of 'the Way' had spread all over Israel that Yshua had risen from the dead: they kept talking of him 'conquering death'---and the Temple folks couldn't really counter dozens of eyewitness reports, and worse, they could not find the body.

The followers of the one called 'Yshua' which they kept referring to as the "name above all names" were also performing some sort of 'miracles': people were still getting healed, and every time some one got healed, whole towns were believing that Yshua was the Messiah. () The Messiah! Saul had been brought up at Gamaliel's feet, and for a man to claim he had been God's Messiah: it so enraged Saul, that he became a champion of putting down the 'Way' and its followers,

Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed [them] to prison.

Further, with a crowd of other regular Temple attenders, he haled one of them, a disciple named Stephen off to be stoned, for refusing to renounce the man they called 'Savior'. It was bad enough that Rome was trying to bring down the Jews, now there were growing thousands whom Saul and the elders of Israel thought might if this 'movement' continued to grow. He had to admit that Saul gave a better sermon than he had ever heard on the history of Israel and her God, but, well, he didn't cast a stone not really, but he watched the coats of those who did, and consented to the killing. He hadn't been the same since, though, because he just couldn't understand the power that Stephen had even during the stoning, nor the light that shone on his face, and it just enraged him even more.

The Way was growing in Damascus, where Saul had come from, so he sought permission of the Temple authority to go arrest everyone involved, and of course they were only to happy to oblige.

"And desired of him letters to Damascus to the Syagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem, Acts (9:2)

And so with some amount of blood on his hands, he thought for a righteous cause, he set out on the road to Damascus to overthrow "The Way, The Truth and The Life" as Yshua had called himself, only to confront the overthrow of what he had been: a religious, self-righteous man, zealous of Judaism, but without divine knowledge. He knew the Scriptures---but he was about to come face to face with the Living God of Israel, who would show the truth of Divine Blindness and how it is healed, using a blindness of the flesh to demonstrate.

Saul's Divine Encounter

He made it almost all the way to Damascus, when a an event occurred which Saul, in his life could never have counted on:

9:3 "...and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:"9:4 and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him,
"Saul, Saul why persecutest thou me?"

Whatever happened, it hadn't happened to him in synagogue before, and a couple of things are notable: 1) Saul recognized immediately it was from Heaven, and 2) He responds immediately acknowledging what he saw as the Lord!. Saul did not argue or confront, the mighty man of Jerusalem that he was, but instead, astonished says

"...Who art thou, Lord?"

The event caused him to fall to the earth! And the answer was not obscure, and would cement in stone the man's apostleship to come:

"I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks"

One can only imagine the entire nature of the encounter, but the the Greek word for 'pricks' is kentron and can mean 'sting' or 'goad' and while most picture the spur that goads horses along, the intimation to Paul, was that he was going the wrong way intensely, and suffering because of it. It is a remarkable love that faced that enemy of God on that road, who instead of condemning him for Stephen's murder, saved him, but not without a divine lesson.

The Marks of Meeting the Lord

That it was the Lord is testified to by all of what happened. And the encounter matched some of the most significant encounters of man with God in the Old Testament as well.

1. The ones who were with him did not hear the direct interchange

Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

2. He encountered a 'light from heaven'

3. He was struck with 'trembling and astonishment'.

9:6 And he, trembling and astonished said, "Lord, what wilt thaou have me to do".

In the Old Testament, when Daniel meets with a vision of heaven these things also occur in part or in full.

Daniel 10:7 ...the men that were with me saw not the vision, but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

Daniel 10:8 Dan 10:8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. (aksi 10:16)

or in Ezekiel 1:28

And I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

The command or aid to strength is given both times. The divine encounter of Saul on his way to persecute Christians, bears the marks of other encounters with God in the history of Israel by her prophets.

So far, then , the nature of the encounter which will involve one of the greatest healings of the Bible, follows the following pattern:

1. Saul is stopped from going an evil way
2. A blinding light occurs and Saul is rendered powerless
3. Jesus inquires regarding Saul's evil intent
4. Saul falls, trembling and astonished
5. Saul seeks obedience (below)

Saul's one redeeming quality is that he really did, even before salvation, have a zeal for God, his people and true worship, and a great knowledge of the Holy Scriptures much like a well-studied theologian today, only it was misdirected. The spirit of religion without a relationship with God is often a murderous one, or one of 'overthrow'.

Saul immediately understands on the spot obedience is required when he asks Jesus, Yshua, "...what wilt thou have me to do?"

Note : In the conversion, Saul was really getting the desire of his heart: union with God: he had sough it previously "intellectually" and by tradition. This 'conversion' though, will involve obedience and healing, but it is one of the few times in the Bible when God both smites with a condition and then makes the person whole, for a lesson to Israel. (e.g. Miriam or Moses struck shortly with leprosy and then healed.)

THE Lord's Command

When Saul encounters the LORD near Damascus, it becomes a turning point in Saul's Life, in Israel's life and in the Life of the World. The meeting also renders Saul, soon to be 'Paul' as fit to be an apostle: this enemy of the early believers, so zealous for their overthrow will shortly be their greatest defender and apologist! His letters will carry the Gospel of God to the next few millennia---but not yet. When Saul asks, the Lord, "What wilt thou have me to do?" (the response which should always follow an encounter with the Lord) he does not yet comprehend, that the task that lay before him will be the desire of his heart: to serve God in His Word.

The Pharisees over time have been seen pejoratively as some of the 'bad guys' of history. Most of the reason was their first century hypocrisy and opposition to the Messiah, and the term has come to mean 'religious hypocrite'. The real Pharisees though, were a sect of priests and their followers, who about 400 years before Christ, had sought to turn Israel back to the true practice of Judaism and the worship of the Living God, having seen so many fall away, and believing it was the reason for the Babylonian and Assyrian Exile. Over time though, and nearing the years just before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Pharisees had become tainted with the world and deals with Rome, and by the time of Annas and Caiaphas, the sect bore no resemblance to its founders, exercising its power more as a political body than a religious one, although it must be kept in mind that even at the time all Pharisees could not be cast with the same cloth: Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and Paul, all were of the sect. Saul, zealous for God but not with the knowledge or power of the living God of Israel, met heaven that day and hour, recognizing it immediately both as a well trained scholar and child, and now is about to receive an answer to his quest for God's will.

What Will Thou Have Me to Do?

Note that Yshua, Jesus does not immediately give him the blueprint for the rest of his life during the interchange. As is often the case, what the Lord was eliciting in Saul was faith, belief, and obedience/surrender. Jesus responds:

And the Lord [said] unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 9:6

Saul's first task is to obey the Lord without question. Now, some alarm may rise at the sound of 'blind obedience'. The 'blind obedience' of some societies has led to nothing good such as in the 'befehlsnotstand of the Third Reich, or of other genocides or destructive mass movements. Blind obedience though to the Lord is a different thing, because the Lord has only our good at heart, and is omniscient.
Blind obedience to the Lord does not fail in accomplishing divine purpose. Saul had sought God before, but intellectually and by tradition. Now he is confronted with power, love and sovereignty.

Only the next step is given: "airse, go into the city". The calling is promised.
"Arise" is used often in healings and commands by both Jesus, Yshua and his disciples. The primary word is 'anisthemai'


which can mean to rise from a dormant state, or as in resurrection, and another Greek word is used often the same 'egeiro'


meaning approximately the same, frequently used by Jesus.

'Arise and go' is a call to action: it is used to send the disciples, it is used of the Jairus' daughter, raised from the dead (little maid, arise), and in a number of other passages, although here, it is calling Saul, to a new life, and a calling which so far exceeds his expectations that he cannot imagine it, nor certainly could the persecuted disciples.

As with Daniel and Ezekiel, only Saul hears directly and sees directly, the men with him only in part:

"And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man" 9:7

The result of the encounter was dramatic and strength-robbing , also like Ezekiel and Daniel's encounters:
"And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened he saw no man: but they led him by the hand and brough him into Damascus" 9:8

Saul has come to overthrow, but Saul is overthrown. Saul has come to conquer, but has to be led into the city by hand, blinded by the Light of the World. The Light of the World has rendered Saul physically blind, to show the spiritual blindness which the leaders of Israel had succumbed to.

The Healing of Divine Blindness

There is a sequence to the healing of this 'Divine Blindness'. In almost all other cases of blindness and healing in the Word, the blindness is physical and is healed by the Lord. Here, though, Saul is divinely blinded, and then healed.

1. Saul is struck blind on the Damascus Road
A. It is for a purpose Acts 9:15.
B. To Illustrate Spiritual Blindness of the Pharisees (considered

9:40-41 And [some] of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

C. Saul is three days in the dark (no food nor water)

God has planned Saul's healing though, before he is struck with heaven's 'blindness'. As Saul is being led into Damascus, another disciple, Ananias is being called, to go to Saul and heal him. Ananias is

1. Called and anointed for the healing
2. Sent to Saul
"Arise and go into the street which is called Straight and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus for behold he prayeth. And hath seen in a vision, a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. "

3. Declares to Saul the purpose of the blindess
"Go thy way : for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the gentiles, and Kings and the children of Israel."

God in calling Ananias, removes fear of the once-persecutor, and announces first to Ananias the agent of healing that Saul is to be

a. A chosen vessel for God
b. A bearer of God's name to the Gentiles
c. A bearer of God's name to Kings
d. A bearer of God's name to the Children of Israel

4. Explanation to Saul of his experience and laying on of hands

"Act 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."

All fulfill prophecy, and all were the TRUE intent of Saul's heart. Note that Ananias feared at least in part (9:14-5) to go see Saul for he heard that he was coming in the high Priests authority to bind "all that called upon the name". What a crime they were persecuting back in first century Jerusalem! Calling on the Name. God takes away the fear and sends Ananias to Saul in perfect love. Yet lest the love of God be untempered with the justice of God, He gives to Ananias a prophecy of Saul's forthcoming ministry and call

"For I will show him how great things he will suffer for my name's sake.9:16"

The laying on of hands has been discussed previously in this blog as one of the main pillars of practice for the Christian, in authority and anointing, as well as healing.


The healing of Saul's Blindness is instantaneous:

"And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received his sight forthwith and arose and was baptised."

Baptism here is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the indwelling that comes with belief and faith. The scales fall away and sight returns to this pillar of Israel, set for the defense of the Word of God. With Moses, God showed his power by having him put his hand to his bosom, and taking it out it was leprous, then putting it in again, it was clean.

Exd 4:6-8 And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand [was] leprous as snow.
And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his [other] flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.

Here is our God, 1500 years later, speaking to another Jewish leader about former and latter signs that herald his Way and the great consequence for turning away from the 'sign' or 'ensign' of God. (see also Numbers 21:9)

The Light of the World had again healed a blind man, only this time the application was not only to one man, but to blindness in Israel. He meant for the scales to fall and for His spirit to live WITHIN the tabernacle again. Saul's healing is received, his fast ends, and he is strengthened (again like Daniel and Ezekiel) and he then spends several days in Damascus with the disciples he had come to harm, who now care for their enemy in the love of God.


Saul unlike most believers at first, already had a lifelong education in the Word of God, and in the 'governance' of Israel. He was anything but unlearned. He was not learned yet though in 'walking in the Spirit' and attending to the things of God, yet he almost immediately began to preach that Messiah had come:

"And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues that He was the Son of God" 9:20

This had to have astounded early synagogue worshippers who knew Saul only as a student of Gamaliel and right hand of the Sanhedrin. (:21) Many were saved at Damascus by the innate disposition and Holy spirit filling that Saul had: he PROVED that Jesus, Yshua was Ha Meschiach, the 'Very Christ', the very Messiah of God, by the Scriptures.

Those who lost Saul to 'The Way' * though reacted the way they did other folks who brought thousands to the LORD: they took counsel to kill him. Consider those murderous religious folks who had made their bed with Rome:

-They plotted to silence the man born blind, healed by Messiah
-They plotted to kill Lazarus
-They plotted to kill Jesus
-They now plot to kill Saul

George Bernard Shaw (hardly a christian) once remarked about noticing about how cowards are always screaming to have things killed. This great healing of both real and divine blindness in Israel, turning a religious zealot into a herald of the Word of God and a healer himself, was so clearly a sign of God that no one could protest. Those not right with God plotted to kill the evidence that Yshua HaMeschiach, Jesus of Galilee and Nazareth, Jesus Christ, the Messiah of God, was real and had come for His bride, Israel. That just had to be stopped, now didn't it?

2. 84.