The Lord would say this and that …
Acts 21:4 “We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.”
The Lord would say …?
I was in my first year at Bible College and had my student placement every Sunday in an old Welsh Chapel that seated 600 people. I went there every week with a team of 3 other students. We boosted the congregation and if it wasn’t raining we would get 10 people for the Sunday morning celebration!
And most Sundays the Spirit would speak through the gift of tongues and interpretation …!
The 6 members wouldn’t sit together, they were scattered throughout the ground floor trusting God that He would send in not just people to fill the lower level but also the gallery too. Revival was coming! However, they didn’t sit together pre-revival. One lady rose and spoke in tongues, we waited and another rose to give the interpretation. But often the lady who gave the message in tongues didn’t believe that the interpretation was correct, so would indeed correct the interpretation with something like … “What the Lord meant to say is …” I do remember one particular Sunday morning when the lady with the first interpretation decided to counter the correction with a “Actually NO the Lord was correct the first time …” This pantomime was part of my development as a bible college student! If I had the courage that I have today I would have carried out my threat of countering both messenger and interpreter by standing and saying “Actually you are both wrong says the Lord of Hosts, I have been silent the whole time.”
I am sure you have many stories of the Lord apparently saying something which seemed very odd to you. Well here in this verse it is one of those times. Paul had previously told the Ephesian elders that the Spirit was compelling him to go to Jerusalem and yet today we read that the Spirit urged Paul not to go. Argh! Has the Spirit changed His mind? NO!
Let me simply suggest that the Spirit is telling many prophets in various places that Paul was going to suffer in Jerusalem and out of their concern for him they added their own slant and understanding that this must mean ‘don’t go!’. However Paul is convinced he should and he is fully prepared to suffer and to lay his life down. He has already died to Christ.
Sobering this may be today for us however sometimes in our simplistic understanding we may be tempted to think, “Oh God wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me.” It is true our eternity is protected but not so our life on earth if you think protection is free from disappointment, sickness, harm and even death then you are mistaken. Jesus said we will have trouble in this world so we must be ready for that. We must surrender our lives daily. We must realise that to live is Christ, to die is gain.
The Spirit had spoken to Paul with a compulsion to go to Jerusalem and many confirmed what he already knew that he would suffer there. But that didn’t mean he shouldn’t go.
As a missionary in this world of which we are all one in some form or another we have to go into the whole world and at times we will be called to go to dangerous places. We will be called to lose our lives. “All to Jesus I surrender” is an old hymn I sang throughout my childhood and teenage years. I couldn’t sing it without being moved deeply to do just that. I have been saved many times on that hymn! Even today as a young 51 yr old (!) I am moved to tears when I hear those words.
It can go wrong, well at least it can feel like that, it can be very tough on this earth, but the promise of the presence of God is with those who are willing to go. Don’t let any man’s interpretation of the call of God on your life change that or divert your path. Pick up your cross and go forward.