This is one of the most startling transformations in recorded history. But, think for a minute, if any one of us was suddenly struck with a blinding light and heard a voice that said, “Why persecutest thou me?” wouldn’t we be willing to rethink our positions? The vote here would be highly likely. Except, of course, for some Jews and others, too. Even in this modern age some writers (Joseph Klausner for one) will tell you that Saul had an epileptic fit on the road to Damascus. Saul, according to Klausner, had a ’vision’ which probably happened as a result of the seizure and that was all it was.
Wow! Klausner appears to have the same kind of zeal that Saul had. The difference here is that Saul heard Jesus and Klausner didn’t. If Klausner had the same ‘fit’, what would be his response then? We probably all know the answer to that one. The truth is Klausner had the same opportunity to have a personal experience with the living God and didn’t listen.
After Paul’s conversion he spent three years in Arabia before returning to Damascus (Galatians 1:17,18). It’s a cinch that he didn’t just go there to twiddle his thumbs. It states just preceding the above verses that when it pleased God to call him that he immediately ‘conferred not with flesh and blood’. That alone reveals that those three years were spent with God. Paul went not knowing what was next but returned to tell us that God had revealed his Son in him so he could preach among the heathen. Heathens are anyone that’s not a Jew.
Paul’s story is like the next chapter of the story of the prodigal son. Remember the older brother? He refused to go in and welcome his brother home. Paul’s the older brother. He was the Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee. Low and behold, his brother returns and he goes off in a huff. But God is not going to let him go. He has chosen him since he was in his mother’s womb. His call has come and he is being sent out into the world to preach to the heathen.
He had the most important quality for this task. In the Bible it’s called zeal. It would prove to be the best quality for Paul to possess. In II Corinthians 11:23-28 he recounts beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, and all of the challenges he had to face. And yet he kept on, and on, and on. God bless him. The Bible calls it zeal. I call it fortitude.