The next stop on Paul’s journey to Jerusalem was the port city of Caesarea:
And as we were staying there for some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says; ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles'” (Acts 21:10-11).
Here is yet another example of the Holy Spirit testifying to Paul that “bonds and afflictions” awaited him in Jerusalem. But notice that Agabus didn’t say, “Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Do not go to Jerusalem!'” No, God was leading Paul to Jerusalem and was simply preparing him through Agabus’ prophecy for the troubles that awaited him there. Notice also that Agabus’ prophecy only confirmed what Paul already knew in his spirit months before. We should never be led by prophecy. If prophecy doesn’t confirm what we already know, we shouldn’t follow it.
Agabus’ prophecy is what we might consider to be “spectacular guidance,” because it went beyond just an inward impression within Paul’s spirit. When God grants “spectacular guidance,” such as a vision or hearing an audible voice, it is usually because God knows our way is not going to be easy. We will need the extra assurance that spectacular guidance brings. In Paul’s case, he was about to be nearly killed by a mob and spend several years in prison before his journey to Rome as a prisoner. Because of the spectacular guidance he received, however, he could maintain perfect peace through it all, knowing the outcome would be favorable.
If you don’t receive spectacular guidance you shouldn’t be concerned because, if you need it, God will see that you get it. We should, however, always strive to be sensitive to and be led by the inward witness.