The church formed at Antioch was made up of Jewish believers who had scattered from Jerusalem and also Gentiles who had come to believe. This is where Barnabas and Saul had been living and teaching for the last year. They were numbered with other prophets and teachers: Simeon, Lucius and Manaen.
These brothers seem like an accountable small group. They get together to worship, fast and pray. On this particular day the Holy Spirit speaks quite clearly to them. “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” They knew it was God speaking but they didn’t know quite what to do with this information so they continued to seek the Lord. The Lord expanded their understanding: Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (God is a vision giver – and it comes with enough details to get you started.)
So, here we go. These are the first missionaries sent out on purpose by the church.
Their route is spelled out – Antioch to the seaport at Seleucia, boat over to the island of Cyprus. In the first big city of Salamis they preach in the Jewish synagogues. From there, they cross Cyprus to its other coast, to the city of Paphos.
It’s here they encounter Bar-Jesus, the magician. He has attached himself to the Proconsul of the city, Sergius Paulus. Interestingly the proconsul – an intelligent man – is very eager to hear from Barnabas and Paul about the Word of God. Of course, Bar-Jesus is not too happy about this and he does whatever he can to keep the proconsul from believing.
But Paul, via the Holy Spirit, speaks harshly to the magician. “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.”
Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Paul has come face to face with a representative of Satan. He has discerned exactly what is going on because he listened to the Holy Spirit.
God is a vision giver.
The Lord will give clarity if you ask.
About the World?
God can win, even in Enemy territory.