Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing by visiting you twice—first on my way to Macedonia and again when I returned from Macedonia. Then you could send me on my way to Judea.2 Corinthians 1:15-16
Let’s have a look at some other verses concerning Macedonia:
Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra . . . they went from town to town, instructing the believers.
So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. Next Paul and Silas travelled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. (Act 16:6) Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
Well isn’t that interesting. I don’t want to make too much of it but is this a pivotal moment in history? It certainly appears that Macedonia was a turning point. In the verses we read yesterday it appears that the area of Macedonia becomes the bridging point to a westward move. Take note of the emboldened bits above. The Holy Spirit prevents Paul and his team from moving into Asia. Oh yes granted the Roman province of Asia was not the Asia we know today. But a move eastward into Asia Minor would have ultimately taken Paul and his cohorts into the Asia we know. The Holy Spirit prevents the move. They are then still in the east and intending to head north to Bithynia but again the Holy Spirit stops them. Was moving northward wrong or was it staying in Asia Minor? It is at that point they told clearly not to go eastward and ultimately God sends them westward.
Paul moves to Rome, and the influence of Christianity is then spread around the Roman world. Yes there were influences in the East, the Byzantine Empire and it’s influence to name one. But generally Christianity moved westward. From Rome and the influence of Roman Empire Christianity moved into Europe. Both Western Europe and Eastern Europe were affected but more so Western Europe. It grew to encompass Britain, Ireland, Germany, France and then into the Iberian Peninsula. With advent of the great European fleets and world expansion Christianity was taken to the new world. The Americas, Latin and Central America where Catholicism took hold via the Spanish and Protestantism in North America via the Puritans. Thence from that base it spread world wide. What I find fascinating is that God via His Holy Spirit seems to have intended it to happen that way. When Paul was intent on moving eastward it is clear that God turn him westward. Yes Byzantine influence moved East and Marco Polo’s effort took the gospel eastward but largely it was a westward advance. Why did God want it done that way? Did He know something that we didn’t? This of course raises many questions in my mind.
I find it interesting too when hearing stories like the following:
One of the great disasters of history took place in 1271. That year Marco Polo’s father visited the Kubla Khan, supreme ruler of China, India and the East. He was so attracted to Christianity, that he told Marco Polo’s father, “Tell your high priest to send 100 men skilled in your religion and I’ll be baptized. All my barons and great men and their subjects will be baptized too. Soon there will be more Christians here than in all the rest of the world.” But nothing was done. After thirty years, only a handful of missionaries had been sent – too little and too late! Can you imagine how different the world would be today if China (1.2 billion), India (800 million), and the rest of the Orient, had been converted to Christ?
At the end of World War II, General MacArthur pleaded with the church in America, “Send 1,000 missionaries to Japan immediately,” promising that in one generation it could be won to Christ. Again the call was not heard, and today less than one percent of Japan’s population is Christian.
One would have to argue that it was clearly God’s intention that the gospel move westward. That much is clear. The Macedonian Call to Paul was a very significant event. It changed the direction of the spread of the gospel. Much more could be said but this is a little snippet with huge implications. Now it is your turn to ponder on it.
If you want to do big things, get rid of your small thinking.Jeffrey Rachmat
Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back & realise they were the big things.Sid Mohede