Paul, as we saw at the end of chapter 20, felt compelled to get to Jerusalem sensing that his time was coming to an end for great suffering was awaiting him. Now here in chapter 21, we see Paul traveling quickly from place to place. While at Tyre, they found some disciples who through the Spirit warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem, then in Caesarea, they stayed at Philip the evangelist who had four daughters who prophesied. While there, a prophet named Agabus came and did a demonstration to Paul of how he was going to be bound and delivered into Gentile hands if he went up to Jerusalem. Paul, told them all, what are you doing? I am ready to die for the Lord, don't make this any more difficult.
What do we do when prophecy contradicts the direction the Lord has given us?
It is always good to examine first to assure that we did hear from the Lord. Second, we understand that people prophesy in part, sometimes they add their own interpretation to what they saw, so we need to rightfully discern it. Keep that which we know is of God and throw out that which is not. Third, God's will is often not easy and what He tells us privately few people would be able to believe it themselves. Somethings we just got to keep to ourselves and within a small circle of those who truly grasp the call of God on our lives.
Prophesy helps us advance it gives us clarity to push us forward, it helps us discern the timing of God. But, we must be cautious to hear from God for ourselves first and not become prophesy junkies. There are those who go from one prophetic meeting to the next hoping to get a word from God. Most prophetic words have a bit of the individual's interpretation involved and if we don't know God's will for ourselves we will be all over the place, lost in confusion, hope deferred, spiritually sick. People mean well but as we see with Paul they thought there was no way that it was God's will for Paul to suffer and die and yet it was. They saw the suffering but interpreted it as a warning to not go to Jerusalem. People see in part, prophecy in part, but it is our duty to take the part and hear from God in order to fill in the blanks.
Paul finally reaches Jerusalem, and at first, he was welcomed warmly. Paul shared about all that God had done among the Gentiles, then the Jewish leaders starting bragging about the thousands of Jews who were now believers and were zealous for the law. Then, they started questioning Paul since they had heard he was telling Jews in his travels that they didn't have to abide by the law. The council years ago had agreed the Gentiles only had to follow a much-condensed version but that decision didn't include the Jews. Paul the next day, responded to their accusations by his men and him going through the custom purification. But, Jews from Asia saw him and seized him shouting accusations, they dragged him out of the temple and were about to kill him, when Roman soldiers stepped in and took Paul into custody. The Commander thought Paul was an Egyptian who raised a rebellion after Paul cleared his name, he was given permission to address the mob who had gathered.
Have you ever been welcomed one moment and then insulted the next? Brought into a heated situation and things seem to go okay initially and then all Hell breaks out. Being misunderstood and then given little room to explain anything. How should one respond? Sometimes there is nothing we can say or do all we can hope for is that God intervenes. The Bible says we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Sometimes silence is the best way to defend ourselves other times as the bible says "we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony." Debating theology to the hard of heart will not end well but speaking what God has done experientially cannot be denied. People may not believe us but one cannot argue with what another has experienced.
Americans live in a land that celebrates freedom of religion what we face in opposition is nothing compared to those in religious oppressive countries such as North Korea, Iran, etc. We should be thankful for the freedom we enjoy and be in prayer and look to support however we can the persecuted church, yet the enemies of God will oppose the advancement of the Kingdom no matter where we live, so we got to be on guard at all times, ready to respond to any situation in the power of God.