As Paul, Silas, and Timothy “went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia; they had been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:6–7).
Forbidden? Not allowed?
Paul and Silas had been commissioned by the church in Antioch to share the Good News of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. They were missionaries on a mission. They wanted to preach about the eternal peace and joy found only in Jesus. But God closed the door.
As the missionaries travelled westward, crossing modern-day Turkey, they traversed the region called Asia. In the far southwest corner of Asia was the booming city of Ephesus. To Paul, it appeared to be a virgin mission-field, and Paul was licking his lips, itching to evangelize the busy port city on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea. Somehow, Dr. Luke provides no details, Paul and his partners met a closed door. God didn’t allow them to “speak the word in Asia.”
When that door closed, Paul must have looked at the map and found Bithynia, the region to the north, along the banks of the Black Sea. “But the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” to turn northward.
No! Not there! And not there, either! But where?
Recognizing God’s hand of direction, Paul and his pals faithfully continued travelling toward the setting sun. “Passing by Mysia they went down to Troas” (Acts 16:8). The missionary team crossed modern-day Turkey until they came to its western boarder on the banks of the Aegean Sea and the city of Troas.
I wonder. Would I have doubted God’s provision? His plan? If I was with the Apostle, would I have become impatient and ready to give up and go home? I expect that Paul was excited, enthusiastic and expectant, continuing to trust the Almighty and All-knowing God.
During the night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was standing and pleading with him, ‘Cross over to Macedonia and help us!’ After he had seen the vision, we immediately made efforts to set out for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:8–10).
“Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). “All things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Paul patiently trusted the Lord to guide his steps. Finally, God sent word… “Cross over to Macedonia!” It was God’s invitation to preach the Gospel on European soil.
Sometimes, God closes the door. When He does, we can expect Him to open a window!