“Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”” Jeremiah 42:6
Walking through the streets of Ephesus, Turkey we were reminded that Paul wanted to preach in the theater there. The guided shared that Paul was talked out of going to the theater by his friends. This detail was not something I picked up in reading of the account given in Acts 19 as an idol maker stirred up the people against Paul for fear of losing income.
Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul’s travel companions. And when Paul wanted to go in to the people, the disciples would not allow him. Then some of the officials of Asia, who were his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater. Acts 19:28-31
Hearing it, personally, I questioned if Paul gave in to peer pressure or if this was God’s will. We are told to seek godly counsel, but Paul wanted to go in. Others would not allow Paul too and pleaded with him not to go.
I know that it is not helpful to ask “What If” questions because the rabbit hole is too long and deep. However for a little bit I did. I did, because there are Scriptures that indicated that Holy Spirit kept Paul from other places that Paul wanted to go.
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. Acts 16:6
If God wanted Paul to avoid the theater, why did He not prompt Paul Himself to avoid it as He did when Paul wanted to go to Asia? It is possible that God did through the unity of the others, but it is also possible that Paul gave in to peer pressure.
In my own life, I have to take caution when I feel prompted to do something. I know that I can ask myself easily if it is 1) God, 2) the enemy 3) my flesh. If I was in Paul’s shoes I would know 100% that prompting was not from the enemy, as Satan would never encourage me to do something that could spread the gospel. Satan wouldn’t open those doors because he has no control over what God would do with the opportunity. I would also doubt that my flesh would lead me to take a risk with my life. So I am lead to believe it was a prompting from the Lord.
When I feel that a prompting is from God, it may not always be the easiest or safest thing to do. Look at Daniel refusing to stop praying with the result being thrown into the lion’s den. Or David going up against a giant. Or Moses challenging a Pharaoh. None of these were easy tasks, and none were safe. They obeyed anyway.
I believe there are times in most people’s lives where the popular opinion is not what God wants. Times were God says “Go,” but everyone else says “Don’t.” What could have happened if this was God’s direction, for Paul to go in to the people? Would Paul have demonstrated through Holy Spirit God’s power so their faith would rest not in the power of men, but the power of God as he said in Corinthians?
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. I Corinthians 2:4-5
I can not condemn Paul, only he and God know what really needed to happen in that time. I can only do my best to realize, as Jeremiah told the Israelites whether it is good or bad, I will obey the voice of the Lord my God. Then trust that it will be well with me when I obey the voice of the Lord my God.
Leave a Reply