In His Time! Acts 13:48-52
“48) When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49) And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. 50) But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51) But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52) And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts‬ ‭13‬:‭48‬-‭52‬ ‭
These five verses develop a picture that often plays out around the world. A significant movement of God is matched by stiff opposition and harsh persecution. The Gentiles rejoiced and many believed. The Jews aroused prominent men and women against Paul and Barnabas and organized persecution to drive them from their region.
So, which side won? Among the Gentiles there was great rejoicing and “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Vs 48) The doctrine of election became a guarantee of significant fruitfulness among the Gentiles.
Among the Jews, organized opposition drove the gospel team from their region. The doctrine of rejection was used by God to move Paul and Barnabas to their next assignment.
It looks like there were two very opposite outcomes in this text. In verse 51, Paul and Barnabas “shook off the dust of their feet in protest against the Jews.” By contrast in verse 52, “the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” The Gentiles were celebrating God and His favor.
This tension plays out in many regions around the world. Paul and Barnabas followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and moved on to Iconium. They continued to share the gospel elsewhere while they turned the future harvest in Pisidian Antioch over to God and others.
There will come a time that God wants you to move on. When Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet, they were declaring their mission was complete. Their watch was over. They had fulfilled their responsibility.
But that did not mean God was done with the city. They left behind many seeds that were firmly planted and a group of disciples that were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
It’s time to get a broader perspective. God works in regions over time and uses many people in the process. The same is true with the way God works in the lives of people. Just because you were met with opposition does not mean God has run out of options. He has a plan and it most likely involves other people and time.
1 Corinthians 3:6 captures this phenomenon. Paul concluded; “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” There comes a time to “let go and let God.” Never loose sight of the fact that God’s work unfolds over time!
As the years have turned into decades, I have watched in amazement as God changed regions and reached people that were very closed previously. It underlines for me that God works over time and through many people and circumstances.
Great freedom came when I realized that I was not responsible to do it all! I cannot force God or others into my time frame. I used to be caught in a time warp trap. I wanted it done “Now!”
I am learning to hand the baton over to God and others to complete His work in His time. Mountains often move over time. Many of my mountains from 40 or 50 years ago no longer exist. God is faithful, but they moved over time.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global