October 24, 2010

Nameless But Notable VII: Going to Macedonia

"And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. The Conversion of Lydia. So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days." ~Acts 16:6-12

Wherever Paul and his companions wandered in Asia he was hindered by Judaizers but also he seemed to be in friction or hindered by the Holy Spirit. He was forbidden by the Spirit to speak in Asia. When attempting to enter Bithynia, the Spirit in Jesus did not allow them. So they pass by Mysia and make their way to Troas. It is in Troas that Paul has a dream of a man that beckons him to Macedonia (Greece). So here we have our first nameless and contemplated/pondered man. I believe, if Paul had recognized the man in his dream he would've identified him to the others he was traveling with but this fact is not disclosed in Scripture. He may have been symbolic of all the people in waiting to hear the Word and the message of salvation in Macedonia, we do not know for sure. The Scripture does sort of speak directly to this fact though. The exact passage states, "Come over to Macedonia and help us /ημιν"

Us who? This "us" designates a plural so this man might very well have been a representative of a group needing the Word. Whether real or imagined, singular or symbolic it was "we" or specifically "immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia". Paul and those with him (Silas, Timothy, Luke, etc) decided as brethren and as a group that they would immediately go to Macedonia as they all concluded this is the message or sign the had all been waiting for as opposed to being hindered by the Spirit.

Over and over down through the centuries this message and signaling from the Holy Spirit has been motivating and convicting believers to "go to Macedonia" or "go to Rome" or "go to the New World" , "go to the frontier", "go to the mountains", "go to California", "go to the inner-city", "go to the projects in Chicago", "head out to Brooklyn or up to the Bronx", "to the east side", "the west side", "the south side" and so on and so on. We are motivated by the Spirit to go out and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19,20) in some shape or form according to our gifts and filling by the Spirit. In the same manner the Spirit shows us how and what to do through different vehicles and ideas. In Paul's case it was a man in Macedonia beckoning and saying "us". Where is the Spirit calling you? Is He calling you away from where you think you should be and telling you to go somewhere else. Are you fighting Him? Are you trying to figure out why every time you do His will, you keep failing? Are you really trying to do what He wants...or are you trying to do what you want?

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