23 “Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 And he wrote a letter to this effect:
26 “Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. 29 I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. 30 And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.” (Acts 23:23–30 (ESV)
Dr. J.I. Packer writes, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Pro. 16:33). “God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). If Creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of that same energy whereby the Creator, according to his own will, (a) keeps all creatures in being, (b) involves himself in all events, and (c) directs all things to their appointed end. The model is of purposive personal management with total “hands-on” control: God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute. The nature of God’s “concurrent” or “confluent” involvement in all that occurs in his world, as – without violating the nature of things, the ongoing causal processes, or human free agency – he makes his will of events come to pass, is a mystery to us, but the consistent biblical teaching about God’s involvement is as stated above.
The Lord used not only the Roman tribune Claudius Lysias, but also 200 hundred Roman soldiers, 70 Roman horseman, and 200 Roman spearmen in order to bring the Apostle Paul safely to the Roman Governor, Felix, who was residing in Caesarea. This large contingent set out during the third hour of the night, which began at 9:00 p.m.
Why did Claudius send out almost half of his 1,000 man garrison? There are likely three reasons.
First, the tribune knew that there were at least 40 men planning to kill Paul. Perhaps he thought there might be even more. This large force would provide ample protection. Second, this many soldiers might not raise suspicion about Claudius’ plan to quietly send Paul away from Jerusalem since such large troop movements were common. Third, Claudius was perhaps protecting himself. By assembling such a large force, he could argue he did everything possible to protect Paul, if the apostle was killed on his way to Caesarea.
Claudius even wrote a letter to Governor Felix. We will examine the contents of the letter when next we meet. I encourage you to rest in the sovereign providence of God.
Soli deo Gloria!