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THE VOICE THAT SPOKE TO SAUL
Acts ix: 1 to 31; xxii: 1 to 21; Galatians i: 11 to 24.
AUL, the young man who had taken part in the slaying of
Stephen, and who had scattered abroad the believers in
Christ, was still the bitter enemy of the gospel. He
heard that some of those who had fled away from
Jerusalem had gone to Damascus, a city outside of the
Jewish land, far in the north, and that there they were still
at work teaching Christ. Saul made up his mind to
destroy this new church in Damascus, as he thought he
had destroyed the church in Jerusalem. So he went to
the high-priest, and said:
"Let me have a letter to the chief of the Jews in
Damascus. I have heard that there are some followers
of Jesus of Nazareth in that city; and I will go with
some men, and will take these people, and bind them,
and bring them in chains to Jerusalem."
The high-priest gave to Saul the letters that he asked
for, and Saul found a band of men to go with him to
Damascus. It was a journey of about ten days, riding
on horses or mules. While Saul
 was on his way to Damascus he had time to think about
Christ and his gospel. He saw again in his mind
Stephenís shining face, and heard his words, he thought
of the sweet and patient way in which the followers of
Jesus had met their sufferings and their wrongs at his
hand. Deep in Saulís heart there arose a feeling which
he could not put down, that the gospel of Christ was
true, and that it was wicked for him to fight against
it. Yet he still went on, firm in his purpose to
destroy the Church of Christ.
At last he came near to Damascus. Suddenly, at full
noon, a light flashed from heaven, brighter far than
the sun. For the time the light blinded Saulís eyes,
and it came so suddenly upon him that like a bolt of
lightning it struck him down, and he fell upon the
ground. In the midst of the light Saul saw One whom he
had never seen before. And a strange voice came to him
saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you fighting against me?"
And Saul answered the voice, "Who art thou, Lord?"
Then the answer came, "I am Jesus, whom you are
trying to destroy!"
SAUL HEARS A STRANGE VOICE
Then trembling with surprise and alarm, Saul said,
"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
And the Lord said to Saul, "Rise up, and go into the
city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."
Those who were with Saul wondered, for they had seen a
light, and had heard a sound; but had beheld no face
and had heard no words; for the vision of Christ had
come to Saul alone. They raised him up from the
ground, and found that his eyes had been made blind by
the brightness of the light. They led him by the hand
into the city, and took him to the house of a man named
Judas. There Saul stayed for three days in the deepest
suffering of mind and body. He could see nothing, and
he neither ate nor drank. But in the darkness he was
praying to God and to Christ with all his heart.
In the city of Damascus there was a follower of Christ
named Ananias, a good man, held in respect by all who
knew him. To this Ananias the Lord spoke, calling him
by name, "Ananias."
And Ananias answered, "Here I am, O Lord."
And the Lord said to Ananias, "Rise, and go into the
street named Straight, and find the house of Judas; and
in that house ask for a man named Saul from Tarsus.
This man Saul is praying; and in a vision he has seen a
man named Ananias coming into his room and laying his
hands on him, to give him his sight."
 This command from the Lord was a surprise to Ananias.
He answered the Lord, "Lord, I have heard from many
people about this man Saul; what great evil he has done
to all thy people in Jerusalem; and here he has an
order from the high-priest to bind and to carry away
all who call upon thy name! Shall I go and visit such
a man as he?"
But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go thy way; for I have
chosen this man to bear my name before the people of
all nations, and kings and the children of Israel. And
I will show him how many things he must suffer for my
Then Ananias went, as the Lord had bidden him. He
found the house, and he came to Saul. He laid his
hands on the head of Saul, and he said, "Brother Saul,
the Lord Jesus, who met you in the way as you were
coming, has sent me, that you may have your sight, and
that the Holy Spirit may come upon you. Now, wait no
longer, but rise up , and be baptized, and call upon
the name of Jesus, who will wash away your sins."
 Then there fell from the eyes of Saul what seemed like
scales, and at once his sight came to him. Saul was
baptized as one who believed in Christ, and food was
given him, and he became strong in body and in soul.
Saul had gone forth to bind the disciples of Christ in
Damascus; but now he came among them, no more as an
enemy, but as a brother. And he went into the
synagogues where the Jews worshipped in Damascus, and
began to preach Jesus to them, declaring that Jesus is
the Christ and the Son of God. And all that heard him
were amazed, and they said to each other, "Is not this
the same man who in Jerusalem wrought ruin among them
who believed in this name? And did he not come to this
place, intending to bind the believers in Jesus, and
bring them before the chief priests?"
And Saul grew stronger and stronger in his spirit and
in his words. None of the Jews in Damascus could
answer him, as he showed that Jesus is the Anointed
One, the Christ.
But he did not stay long in Damascus.
After a time he left the city, and went away to a quiet
place in the desert of Arabia, where he stayed for a
year or longer, thinking upon the gospel and learning
from the Lord.
And again Saul came to Damascus and again he preached
Christ and salvation through his name, not only for
Jews, but for Gentiles, all people besides the Jews.
This made the Jews in Damascus very angry. They formed
a plan to kill Saul, and they watched the gates day and
night, hoping to seize him as he went out. But Saulís
friends, the disciples of Jesus, brought him by night to a
house on the wall, and let him down in a basket to the
ground, so that he escaped from his enemies and went
away in safety.
THE WALL WHERE SAUL WAS LET DOWN IN A BASKET, AS SHOWN TO-DAY
Saul now journeyed back to Jerusalem. He had left it
three years before, a bitter enemy of Christ; he came
to it again a follower of Christ. But when Saul sought
to join the believers in Jerusalem, they were all
afraid of him; for they could not believe that one whom
they had known as the fierce destroyer of the church
was now a friend to Jesus. Then Barnabas, the man who
had given all his land to the church, as we read in
Story 150, believed in Saul when he heard his story,
and brought him to Peter, and told how he had seen the
Lord in the way, and how boldly he had preached in
Damascus in the name of Jesus.
 Then Peter took the hand of Saul, and received him as a
disciple of Christ. For a few weeks Saul stayed in
Jerusalem; and he preached in the synagogues of the
Jews, as Stephen had preached before, that Jesus is the
Saviour not only of Jews but also of Gentiles
("Gentiles" was the name that Jews gave to people of
every other nation except their own).
When Saul preached that Gentiles might be saved in
Jesus Christ, it made the Jews angry, just as it had
made Saul himself angry in other days to hear Stephen
preach this same gospel. They would not listen to
Saul, and they sought to kill him, as they had killed
Stephen. One day Saul was praying in the Temple and
the Lord came to him once again, and Saul saw Jesus and
heard his voice saying, "Make haste, and go quickly
out of Jerusalem, for the people here will not believe
your words about me."
Then Saul said to the Lord, "Lord, they know that I
put into prison and beat in the synagogues those who
believed on thee. And when thy servant Stephen was
slain I was standing by and was keeping the garments of
those who stoned him."
And the Lord said to Saul, "Go from this place; for I
will send thee far away to preach to the Gentiles."
Then Saul knew that his work was not to preach the
 the Jews, but to the Gentiles, the people of other
nations. The disciples in Jerusalem helped him to get
away from his enemies in the city, and led him down to
a place called Caesarea, on the seashore. There Saul
found a ship sailing to Tarsus, a city in Asia Minor.
Tarsus was Saulís birthplace and his early home. He
went again to this place, and in that city he stayed
for a few years, safe from the Jews. He was a
tent-maker, and he worked at his trade while preaching
the gospel in Tarsus. And we may be sure that Saul
would not be silent about the good news of the gospel.
He preached in Tarsus and in all the places near it.
Now that Saul the enemy had become Saul the friend of the
gospel, all the churches in Judea, and Samaria, and
Galilee, had rest and peace. The followers of Christ
could preach without fear; and the number of those who
believed grew rapidly, for the Lord was with them.
All through the land, from Galilee down to the desert
on the south, there were meetings of those who believed
in Jesus as the Saviour, and the apostles Peter and
John went among them to teach them the way of life.