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Paul’s Daring Basket Escape

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Last year the Lord laid on my heart to share with you all some thoughts I had on true fellowship, namely that true fellowship is when believers gather to share a meal together in order to digest the Word of God together. As these words become part of the groups reality they are able to walk them out in unison in both in the private and public spheres.

We also discovered that the early church experienced challenges as they walked out, in true fellowship, their new life in Christ within their communities. In many instances they were persecuted for their beliefs, but we discovered that this persecution was actually a blessing as it drove them into uncharted waters and as a result they grew into a deeper relationship with the Lord. 

One of the chief persecutors of the early church was Paul. However, after his conversion Paul’s life changed completely. Empowered by the anointing of the Holy Spirit he straight away started preaching boldly in the synagogues of Damascus that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. This complete change in Paul took many by surprise and the people were afraid.

“Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 

Acts 9:21

Yet despite this mistrust among the population, Paul continued to preach, gaining strength as he did so. This course of action now made Paul himself a target, and his life lay in the balance. Through a daring escape which involved being lowered down the city wall in a basket, Paul made it safely back to Jerusalem. 

‘But their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.’ 

Acts 9:24-25

I have always thought this rather strange… I mean, what’s with the basket? It would have been easier for Paul to just slide down a rope. However, as I delved a little deeper into the symbolism of the basket I came to realise that this detail was included in scripture to give us a deeper understanding of the change that had occurred in Paul after his conversion and how this formed a  catalyst to the blessing given to the church a little later in the chapter;

‘Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied.’ 

Acts 9:31

So let’s take a look at the significance of the basket and how baskets played an important role in the history of our people Israel.

What is a Basket?

If we think of baskets we may surmise that their purpose is to hold something precious with the intention for that something to be dispensed. Think about it, baskets allow you to move goods from one place to another. The goods are placed in the basket and when they reach their destination they are handed out or distributed.

In Greek, the word for basket is σπυρις spuris – something which is twisted or coiled. We can understand this, as a basket is usually made from woven, or twisted material. 

It is interesting to note the phonetic similarity between the Greek word σπυρις and the Hebrew סֵפֶר sepher. They both contain the consonants s, p and r. The Hebrew סֵפֶר describes a book or record, which in the ancient days was rolled up as a scroll.

Baskets and The Written Word

Here we are starting to see a connection between baskets and the written word.

This correlation continues into our modern day. In English, a written account is commonly referred to as a ‘text’. The word ‘text’ comes from the latin textus which literally means ‘a thing woven’.

Putting this information together, we may conclude that baskets in Scripture represent the interwoven Word of God which holds a treasure that is intended to be distributed.

The Basket of Moses

Now, before you think this connection between baskets, the written word and treasure is too far fetched, consider the early life of Moses who, upon fear of death, was placed by his mother in a basket of papyrus and floated down the Nile. 

‘But when she (Moses’ mother) could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.’

Exodus 2:3

Papyrus is a wetland plant that used to grow prolifically in the Nile Delta. The plant had many uses… it was sturdy enough to construct baskets and the ancient Egyptians also used it to make paper. Once written on, these papyrus parchments would be rolled up as a scroll.

Are you seeing the connection between baskets and the written word? Let’s delve even deeper to see which Word in particular we may be talking about in this instance.

Baskets and the Divine Word of God

Exodus 2:5 describes the basket Moses was placed in as an ‘ark’ which is the Hebrew תֵּבָה tebah.

‘… and when she (Pharaoh’s daughter) saw the ark (תֵּבָה) among the reeds, she sent her maidservant to retrieve it.’

In looking at the Hebrew Word Picture we see that תֵּבָה is literally;

‘Behold (ה) the house (ב) of the covenant or cross (ת).

Moses was placed under the Covenant of the Divine Word of God. This not only transported him, it also afforded him protection. Upon reaching his destination he was ‘drawn from the water’ and poured out a blessing. Moses remained true to his God and to his people and thus was prepared to lead the Israelites out of their bondage to Egypt.

Baskets and Deliverance

So here we are starting to see an additional theme connected to baskets… that of deliverance. Not only was Moses, as an infant, delivered from certain death by being placed in a basket… his ‘basket experience’ was also pivotal to the deliverance from bondage of his people Israel. 

On an even deeper level we can see that this ‘basket experience’ had a distinct Passover flavour not only for Moses as an individual but also for Israel as a nation.

One of the themes of Passover is baptism. Moses was ‘drawn from the water’ and the nation of Israel found deliverance as they ‘passed through’ the water of the Reed Sea.

Are you starting to see the depth contained in these Scriptural accounts? Each new layer adds to the previous one creating a depth to the tapestry illustrating the history and destiny of our people, Israel.

Paul’s Experience

As we fast forward now to the life of Paul, we see the exact same themes repeat, albeit on a new and deeper level. 

Whereas Moses lived in the age of the Passover revelation, Paul lived at the dawning of the Pentecostal Age and he dedicated his life to the spreading forth of the Gospel Message. Through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour a new wave of deliverance swept over our people as they received the treasure of the Holy Spirit which bore much fruit in all who believed.

Like Moses, Paul’s ‘basket experience’ also occurred in a time where his life was in danger. It took place shortly after Paul’s conversion wherein his eyes were opened, through the working of the Holy Spirit, to the truth of the Word of God. 

Paul sought refuge from his persecutors in the Word of God, revealed by the Holy Spirit, as pictured by his transportation down the city wall in a basket. And moreover, it was this Word, this most precious of revelations, that he poured forth into the communities that he travelled through. He declared boldly that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.

‘And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God”’.

Acts 9:20

The message Paul delivered was embraced by the fledgeling church and it had a transformational effect on them… the church experienced the deeper deliverance of Pentecost as they received the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

‘Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied.’

Acts 9:31

Pentecostal Blessing of Deliverance

Let’s just take a moment to look at this wonderful Pentecostal blessing of deliverance which is still available to us today.

The church was edified, built up as living stones fitly joined together to become the Temple of the Living God. This building up occurred as the body of believers abode in His Word. Through sharing in communion, in true fellowship, digesting the revelation of the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ a new level of deliverance was experienced and the Temple of the Living God started to take shape.

This deliverance also allowed the body of believers to ‘walk in the fear of the Lord’, to start becoming the conduits of blessing to their communities as they witnessed the truth they now possessed to the outside world. 

As the anointing of the Holy Spirit worked in and through the body of believers they were multiplied… this does not necessarily mean that they increased in numbers. The Greek word translated as ‘multiplied’ in this verse is πληθυνω plethuno which carries the nuance of increasing and multiplying in the sense of being made full, coming to ones maximum capacity or potential. The body of believers were being made complete, experiencing a unity in which they could together walk out their God ordained potential. 

This is the purpose of Pentecost.

Baskets and Times of Transition

Does it not occur to you as remarkable, that at pivotal times of transition in the History of our nation, the Lord sent us people in baskets? These people were instrumental in showing us the way to a deeper deliverance as they poured forth the treasure of the newly revealed Word, the bread of Life, in the midst of the chaos of their communities. Each had a different level of revelation, Moses that of Passover, and Paul that of Pentecost.

We are also living in a time of transition as we move from the Pentecostal Age into the Tabernacle Age.

Like Moses and Paul before us, we find ourselves living in tumultuous times but also times wherein new revelations are coming to light. 

Moses’ parents and Paul hearkened to the newly revealed Word that the Lord laid on their hearts. Their faith advanced the manifesting of the Kingdom of God yet this path was not without its dangers. Walking an authentic Christian life is fraught with danger, and there may be times in which we too may feel that our lives lay in the balance.

However, it is by taking hold of the deeper revelations of the Word of God and walking in them, that we find refuge in the life they impart. Like Moses and Paul, we will find a safe haven in the basket that is the Word of the Living God.

Baskets, Faith and Allegiance

Finding refuge in the basket requires faith, as it illustrates our shift of allegiance. It was by faith that Moses was placed in the basket as his parents believed in the Lord and hearkened not to the command of the Pharaoh. It was by faith that Paul believed that there was another King and therefore he could embark on a mission through which he literally turned the world upside down.

As we enter the Tabernacle Age we also, like those who have gone before us, by His Grace will become conduits of deliverance on a new and deeper level to our own communities as the Lord pours us forth to manifest His Kingdom in our day.

In our next episode of Caleb’s Journal I like to explore this concept a little further. Do we see any Scriptural evidence for a ‘basket ministry’ in our modern day? As I was pondering this question the account of Jesus feeding the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish came to mind. So stay tuned as next time we delve into this passage in John 6 and see how this event gives us a blueprint to work with in our modern day.