Hannah Hallett has produced the notes this week.
Happy Friday everyone! Today’s passage sees Paul and Barnabas leave Antioch for their missionary trip. You can read it here.
Some of you may already know that I studied English Literature at university, one of the things I had to do all the time was compare and contrast two texts. This passage is a dream for that kind of analysis so please cut me some slack if you have no interest in it, this may get a bit too “literaturey” for some of you!
Paul knows exactly what it’s like to be blind. He had his sight taken from him on the road to Damascus as we read a few weeks ago and was blind for three days. The difference is that Paul repented, he, like Elymas the Sorcerer, was heading down the wrong path (no pun intended) and had to completely turn his life around. Paul was also blind to God’s plan and to Jesus Christ, his eyes were opened literally but more importantly they were opened spiritually.
In this passage we have the exact opposite, Paul is able to make the false prophet blind as he is an obstacle to the gospel. The man is trying to stop the proconsul hearing the gospel, I’d assume that this is because it will affect the influence he is able to have on him. The proconsul, a local Roman leader would have been influential in the area and his conversion would have been noticeable to those around. Ultimately, this would have taken the attention from the false prophet in this passage and he wasn’t keen for that to happen.
God gives Elymas a physical blindness to match the blindness of his spirit. The key difference between Paul and Elymas is that we never read that Elymas repented. I’m certain that if he had turned to God his sight, like Paul’s, would have been restored.
I read a research article for work recently that talked about the cost of businesses ignoring issues that are clearly there. The examples they gave were things like bullying and harassment being ignored in order to focus on things that sound nicer and cost less. The cost of this is incredibly high, the businesses in question would be better off tackling the hard stuff, the core issues and finding a positive way forward. When I read that it reminded me of this passage, we need to tackle our own spiritual blindness, the core issues and we will have our eyes opened to the plans that God has for us.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see. (Amazing Grace, John Newton)