by Wayne Barber
In our last article, we looked at Paul’s life in Acts 16 and what it is like to walk with God. We saw that God’s ways are not our ways. In this article let’s look at how God’s wisdom is greater than our wisdom.
In Acts 16, Paul has been forbidden by the Spirit of God to go into Phyrgia, Galatia, and Bithynia. He has been squeezed by the Hand of God down to the city of Troas (v. 8). God had a plan all the time but Paul hadn’t realized it yet! God always has a plan! His plan was so much wiser than Paul’s plan.
It would have blown Paul’s mind if he could have understood the mind of God, as he and his companions were repeatedly blocked by the Holy Spirit on their journey. They were being led by the unseen Hand of a much wiser God and were not even conscious of it! Romans 8:14 says: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
The phrase “being led” is the present passive. God is leading His children. I believe that whether we are conscious or not of God’s leading, He is always leading His children. God wanted Paul in Troas, which was a city on the coast of Mysia. It would be at Troas that God would reveal His plan.
“A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, saying, ‘come over to Macedonia and help us’”(Acts 16:9) In order to place Paul where He wanted him, God intervened with a vision.
Be careful here! God chose to use a vision to communicate with Paul on several occasions in his life. But most often in times of crisis. Once was in Acts 18:9, when Paul was in Corinth and Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, had just been saved. God spoke to Paul in a vision and told him not to be afraid! Another time was in Acts 23:11 when a lie had spread about Paul in Jerusalem and he was arrested and taken by night out of the city. God spoke to him—in fact, Scripture says that the Lord stood at his side—and told him not to be afraid, that he was going to go to Rome. Again in Acts 27:23, when the ship that was taking Paul as a prisoner to Rome, wrecked and the Angel of the Lord stood before him and told him not to be afraid, and that he would live and appear before Caesar. Yet another occasion was in 2 Corinthians 12:1, when he was caught up into the third heaven.
Now, let’s see if we can better understand this vision thing! The word for “vision” is the word hórama, meaning something that is seen or perceived clearly. It is clearly seen and divinely granted. Hórama comes from horáo, meaning to clearly perceive something.
Now listen: don’t ever put your confidence in a dream or vision. It could be the chili you ate at deer camp! Put your confidence in the fact that God will “clearly reveal to you His will” if you are a bondservant and are willing to do it. This vision appeared to Paul in the night, which probably means that this was a dream.
Paul had been kept twice by the Holy Spirit from doing what he had set out to do. Most would have gone home at that point. But God knew that Paul would do what He told him to do. So He appears to Paul in a dream with a vision: “A man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him” (v. 9). The verb “was standing” is in the perfect active participle. Thus he kept standing and appealing over and over and over! This Macedonian kept imploring, “Come over to Macedonia and help us. Come over to Macedonia and help us!” Clear as a bell! God will, when it’s time, reveal to us His perfect will in such a way we can’t miss it! God had a man who was a bondservant and he was about to discover that God’s wisdom is much greater than man’s wisdom.
I have a friend who is a wonderful trout fisherman. I’m a bass fisherman. Recently, we were on the San Juan River in northern New Mexico. I was going to use a fly rod and flies. But he took his spinning rod. It wasn’t long after we had started fishing that I heard him shouting at the top of his lungs. He was around the river bend from me and by the time I got to where I could see him, he had landed three brown trout that were in the 4- to 5-pound range. Wow! His wisdom was much greater than my wisdom. I took off to the truck, which was about a half mile away, and got a spinning rod and started doing what he was doing. But I had to be willing to change. I had to admit that his wisdom was greater than my wisdom. That is the way it is with God! He is leading, but are we willing to let Him lead? His ways are not our ways, and His wisdom is greater than our wisdom!
Next time we will look at the fact that His world is greater than our world!
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.