4 Barnabas and Saul were sent on their way by the Holy Spirit. They went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 They arrived at Salamis. There they preached God’s word in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. 6 They traveled all across the island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jew named Bar-Jesus. He was an evil magician and a false prophet. 7 He was an attendant of Sergius Paulus, the governor. Paulus was a man of understanding. He sent for Barnabas and Saul. He wanted to hear God’s word. 8 But the evil magician named Elymas opposed them. The name Elymas means Magician. He tried to keep the governor from becoming a believer. 9 Saul was also known as Paul. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He looked straight at Elymas. He said to him, 10 “You are a child of the devil! You are an enemy of everything that is right! You cheat people. You use all kinds of tricks. Won’t you ever stop twisting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to go blind. For a while you won’t even be able to see the light of the sun.” Right away mist and darkness came over him. He tried to feel his way around. He wanted to find someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the governor saw what had happened, he believed. He was amazed at what Paul was teaching about the Lord.
The Holy Spirit was directing Saul and Barnabas. This immediately shows that God had a specific plan for them, that Cyprus was not a random destination.
The proconsul was a position responsible for an entire province and was answerable to the Roman Senate, and therefore it was a role of power and authority. Sergius Paulus was the proconsul at the time, who is described as an “intelligent man”.
Here we see the plan of God unfolding. The Holy Spirit positioned Paul and Barnabas to this area, because Sergius wanted to “hear the word of God”, and called for them. What an amazing opportunity. I believe this man was to have great influence for the faith, because in the next component of this chapter, we read of the resistance that Paul and Barnabas faced, via the sorcerer Elymas. The enemy was opposing. Spurgeon writes “wherever there is likely to be great success, the open door, and the opposing adversaries, will both be found”. However, by the faith and authority of the apostles, and the power of God, the resistance was removed, and the proconsul “believed”, meaning he came to faith. A man in this position, with a faith in God, is a great Kingdom strategy!
What is my response to this? I have prayed through this and realise that I want to recognise more the call of the Holy Spirit, that I may walk in greater obedience to where He directs, so that His purposes may be fulfilled. May any of my excuses dissolve away by the passion of serving Him.
Father, help me to each day have my spiritual radar attuned to You, that I can be living in Your purpose, and not my own.
(I have since put this as a daily reminder on my iphone. I encourage you to do the same)