At this stage in the life of the Early Church, God used miraculous signs for the specific purpose of winning souls for His Kingdom. This is how one examines any “so called miracle” today. Are people saved? Is a person saved? Is God’s Kingdom blessed? Is God glorified? Whatever happens in the Church today that does not answer these questions in the affirmative simply means those happenings are decidedly not from God and must be rejected as from sources other than God Himself.
Having said this, we need to understand that there remains one miracle that is continuous … and will last until Jesus returns to call the end to this world, execute Judgment, casing the lost into the fiery pit and ushering the saints into glory. That miracle … indeed the greatest miracle, is when a soul lost in sin (spiritually dead) experiences salvation (new life through a spiritual resurrection). This is what we need to look for and pray for! This miracle is what we refer to as “being born again” … unfathomable to man, yet experienced deep inside the soul of the one who believes. We left off yesterday where Paul was dealing with Elymas the sorcerer and doing so head on. He was exposing him for what he was, a child of the devil! We now read him saying:
Ac 13:10 “Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.”
1) Don’t forget that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit. He had divine insight into who Elymas. The God provided discernment allowed Paul to see the depth of satanic forces within this false prophet. This is why Paul adds:
Ac 13:10 “Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?”
The word “perverting” means “to twist, to dislocate and to confuse”. Key to grasping this sentence in verse 10 are the verses before:
Ac 13:6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith.
Elymas was a false prophet and a sorcerer. He would twist truth to confuse his hearers … and this is what he tried with the proconsul. Although Sergius Paulus wanted to hear the Word of God in its true form, Elymas tried to prevent the missionaries from getting a hearing with Sergius because he did not want him to hear the truth, believe and repent and be saved! He … tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Should the proconsul believe, Elymas would be without employment and the authority he wielded over people would end!
This satanic strategy is ongoing even in our day. Prevent the family from hearing the Gospel. Don’t let them go to Church or the children to Sunday School. Stop Bible readings and prayer at public schools. In place of opening meetings with a Bible reading and prayer, have 60 seconds of silent prayer or meditation. Wherever possible, belittle Christianity … on TV and Radio Shows. Appoint Liberal Clergy to the pulpit or as lecturers in Theological Seminaries. Enforce laws that restrict Gospelization.
Although the list of preventing the hearing of the Gospel is long, we as God’s people must remember that God is more powerful than our enemies. In fact, there is no contest. Satan and his demonic forces are insignificant in comparison to our Almighty, All powerful Creator God, who alone is the only true and living God.
2) Paul knew and understood He was Holy Spirit appointed and empowered. Immediately he acted, declaring:
Ac 13:11 “Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.”
(1) God’s hand was against Elymas. He was a son of the devil and the hand of Almighty God stopped him in his tracks from any further interference in Gospel Ministry. To our thinking God might tarry in stopping evil, yet His timing is always perfect. When God says enough, it is final! We have a warning here to those who seek to prevent pure Christianity flowing from the pulpits and theological seminaries as well as any other platform where the Gospel is blocked. God will judge and His judgment will be harsh! It is coming!
(2) God’s judicial penalty for preventing the Gospel being heard. Elymas would be blinded and not see any light (not see the light of the sun). His spiritual blindness led to physical blindness as a punishment. There are times when God punishes people for their “willful” spiritual blindness which could result in a variety of “illnesses” or “handicaps”. One of the most common ones is depression. Once this sets in, it manifests itself in many ways, often crippling a person, not only spiritually, but academically, physically, relationally, morally, ethically and in many other ways.
Ps 32:3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Sin is cruel. Sin has no feelings. Sin kills.
(3) God is gracious. His punishment upon Elymas was temporal. It was … for a time. That is, he would be able to see again. We are not told though whether he ever came to faith in Jesus … but he was removed from interfering with Paul and Barnabas’ evangelism. Consider:
Ps 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”, and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Thank You, Lord, that the Gospel door is still open to people. Amen.