6 “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:6–10 (ESV)
Robert Burns (1759-1796), also known familiarly as Rabbie Burns, the National Bard, Bard of Ayrshire and the Ploughman Poet and various other names and epithets, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland.
In his 1786 poem, entitled To a Mouse, Burns tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse’s nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse. In the poem, Burns composed the following, classic verse.
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone] In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.
Burns was saying that the most carefully, prepared plans may go wrong or may be changed due to circumstances beyond one’s control. Burns’ poem provides an appropriate commentary regarding the plans of Paul, Silas and Timothy during their missionary endeavors.
As you may recall, they planned on solely revisiting the churches that Paul and Barnabas visited during their first missionary journey. However, the LORD had other plans. Today’s text indicates that the Holy Spirit forbade them to speak the Word of God in Asia any longer. The Spirit also prevented them from entering Bithynia, located north of Galatia and off the coast of the Black Sea.
They then traveled southwest through the region known as Mysia. They eventually stopped at the coastal town of Troas. Troas was a seaport on the Aegean Sea.
It was while they were at Troas that the Apostle Paul had a vision at night. This apparition was similar to the visions the LORD brought to Ananias (Acts 9:10-12), and to Peter (Acts 10:1-19; 11:1-5).
Before we begin examining the content of the vision, let me ask you a question? Have you ever encountered closed doors? You pursued a certain goal, a relationship or career path, only to be consistently stymied and hindered from encountering any success or achievement in your best, laid plans?
During those times, did you consider that the LORD might have been providing you “prohibitive guidance?” Instead of becoming frustrated, it would be better to trust Him when things don’t go the way you think they should.
Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “As God closes the doors to you, thank Him for that grace to move ahead, walking in His revealed will (the Bible) and waiting patiently for His specific will to become clear.”
Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!