September 8, 2021 - Acts 25:13-27
When I was in high school, I began to play chess during study halls and soon in other places whenever I could. It was a fascinating game that pitted two adversaries trying to overcome each other and capture the king. It seemed that there was always a strategy and counter-strategy that needed to be considered before each move!
Paul had stood before two governors and had been left in prison for over two years as his case was delicately tossed from one to another. No one wanted to free an innocent man even though they freely admitted he had done no wrong to merit this treatment or death that the Jewish delegation had demanded (v.25).
In a chess game, the pawn is the least valuable piece on the board and often is sacrificed in order to preserve and position a more powerful piece to overcome the adversary. The chess strategy in Acts pits the Jews against the Romans, and the pawn appears to be Paul as he sits and awaits the decisions of the players of the game. The players had moved Paul, but neither side had determined to eliminate him from the game. The Romans had now made a move and a new player is entering the strategy and will begin to interact with Paul. This new piece to the chess match is King Agrippa. He is more powerful than both governors who had preceded him.
In a chess match the two opponents match skills and each seek to win, but in life there is a third party that oversees and controls the play. This unseen party determines the play and the elimination of the chess pieces. Of course, this unseen party is the Lord and while Festus, Agrippa and the Jews did not always acknowledge Him, Paul depended upon Him completely.
Many times, it appears that you are a chess piece that is being moved arbitrarily by forces beyond our control. Our employer, the government, and officials have the authority to move you left, right, forward or backwards at times, without any thought of your desires. May we like Paul, lean upon the One that is unseen but is so very present in the lives of believers. May Paul’s words echo in our heart and mind today, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11).