When I began posting on this blog, it was to be an extension of our Tentmakers Sunday School class – to keep class members (at church and on-line) on the same page. In thinking about my last several posts, I realize that the busyness of life has drawn me away from that purpose, leaving those of you reading from home with little clues as to what our class is actually studying. Today, we get back on track.
For the last month or so, we’ve started into Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. The places we visited during Paul and Barnabas’s first missionary journey – Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe (off the top-of-my-head … only to mean that I could have missed one or two, see Acts 13-14) would have been among the churches Paul was addressing with what we know as the book of Galatians. As far as the timing of this letter, it appears that … well … we aren’t sure. If you consulted your study Bible or a commentary or an online source (even a reputable one), you would find someone’s opinion as to when Paul wrote Galatians, but be careful about the stock you place in extra-biblical works (including this blog). You don’t want to assume that the first thing you read – or the first opinion you seek – is automatically true. Trace everything back to God’s Word, and invite the Holy Spirit to help you form your own understanding.
For a second there, I thought that I was going off the track, which just a paragraph ago I said that I was getting back on, but actually the Holy Spirit was guiding my thoughts straight into yesterday’s lesson:
“But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace, saw fit and was pleased to reveal His Son within me so that I might proclaim Him among the Gentiles as the glad tidings, immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was, but I went away and retired into Arabia, and afterward I came back again to Damascus.” (Galatians 1:15-17, Amplified)
Paul didn’t/couldn’t go to the apostles (vs. 17); they would have been beyond skeptical of Paul (then Saul) and his motives. I think “flesh and blood” (vs. 16) could refer to Paul’s peers in the Jewish faith. These people weren’t options for counsel either because, looking back at verse 14, we see that Paul describes himself as being head-and-shoulders above anyone in his generation when it came to his knowledge of and enthusiasm for Judaism. The only Teacher/Counselor Who could prepare Paul for the mission to which God had called him was the Holy Spirit Himself, and so he “retired into Arabia” (vs. 17).
When you think about it, the only Teacher/Counselor Who can prepare you and me for the missions God has set aside for us is the Holy Spirit. When facing decisions – big and small – or looking for direction today … this week … in the coming year, it wouldn’t hurt us to doing some retiring into Arabia ourselves as opposed to consulting with flesh-and-blood.
… That’s an interesting thought: Where is your Arabia?