I read something disturbing the other day in 1 Thessalonians 2.  Paul wanted to go to civil war trenchThessalonica to encourage the believers there.  He loved and missed the small band of brothers and sisters there.  He had to flee the city just months before for fear of his life.  He said he tried again and again to return, but he couldn’t go.  Why?  Because Satan hindered him.  What’s up with that?  How could Satan hinder the great Apostle Paul?  At first I didn’t get it.  Could not understand.  I thought of an ant trying to hinder an elephant on his journey.  Paul was going to do the Lord’s work, but Satan kept him from it.  It made no sense to me.

Then I began to study the issue.  I dug deeper into God’s Word.  I pondered the situation and began to chew on the problem.  Many times that is what we have to do to find the truth behind the truth in the Holy Scripture.

I read a commentary that mentioned how Satan can hinder the will of man, but can never hinder the Will of God.  It was Paul’s will to go to Thessalonica, but it was not God’s will.  Sometimes God closes one good door of ministry, or allows Satan to close it, because God is opening another door to a better ministry opportunity.  Such was the case with Paul.  Paul wrote those words from the city of Corinth, which, it seems, he didn’t like so much.  He was getting frustrated and fed up with the people there.   He wanted to get out of Dodge and head back to Thessalonica.  But God, but God, had different plans.  In order to grow the Kingdom God’s way, Paul needed to stay put in Corinth.  God revealed this to Paul, and he not only learned to be content in Corinth, but he prospered.

The second thing I learned about this initially disturbing passage, was the Greek meaning of the Word “hinder”.  It means to build a trench to to slow down or stop an enemy.  It is what armies do when they are retreating and want to slow down or stop an enemy from advancing and inflicting damages.  I thought of the Civil War.  General Grant is attacking General Lee’s army.  It’s 1864.  Grant has an overwhelming force compared to Lee.  Several times Grant would attack, and Lee would fall back and dig trenches in order to stop Grant.  Usually Grant would attack and be held off, suffering thousands of casualties in the process.  Then Grant would try and go around Lee.  Lee would pull back again and dig more trenches, and hold Grant back yet again.  It took awhile, but Grant, with superior strength and numbers, eventually caused the surrender of Lee at Appomattox in 1865.

That’s all Satan can do against Christians and the power of the Kingdom of God.  Retreat.  Give up ground.  Dig trenches.  Retreat again.  Dig more trenches.  And the Kingdom of God keeps advancing against a significantly weaker foe.

So what is Satan hindering the Apostle Paul all about?   It’s about God will being done, not ours.  It’s about God having a better plan than we do.  It’s about Satan and his beastly hordes always on the defensive, always beating a quick retreat and digging futile trenches to try and slow the advance of almighty God and His Christian Soldiers.  All this because God loves us, and although we might lose the occasional battle, we can be sure of eventually winning the war.  How do I know?  I’ve read the end of the Book, and we win!  What a happy note to end with.

***************************************
I’ve read the back of the book and we win,
no more livin’ in darkness we’ll be living at home with HIM.
You see there’s no need to worry about it if you’re born again.
I’ve read the back of the book and we win.

 

Advertisements