“But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord. (Acts 13:8-12, NIV)
It’s rare that an apostle or prophet was ever recorded to bring a “curse” on someone, but it did happen on occasion. Elisha called on a pack of bears to maul some rude youth once, for example. And here Paul asked God to bring temporary blindness to Elymas, and two things followed: Elymas was immediately quieted and the proconsul became a follower of Jesus Christ.
We’re called to “love our enemies” and to “pray for those that spitefully use us”, but here’s Paul doing the opposite to this guy, it appears. But I think of three things here:
1 The man was standing in the way of the salvation of other souls. That’s a bigger matter than simply “hating” a messenger, like Paul. He was hindering the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and Paul took offense at it.
2 Paul’s action against him was limited to “for a time”. He evidently got his sight back eventually, and surely he learned something from Paul’s rebuke!
3 Others put their faith in God as a result of Paul doing what he did—-and that is the measuring rod of what I do or don’t do—-whether in anger or gentleness. Is God getting the glory?
I cannot imagine the typical pastor of a large church doing or saying what Paul did here. Not because the pastors are lost or because they don’t spend time in prayer and Bible study. I just don’t find many folks this “sold out” for Jesus Christ. We pastors are committed to our visions, and our ministries, and the other staff on our payroll and all the needs of our members; what is lacking though is total surrender and attention to Jesus Christ. If I am committed to Him, I will do what is needed and required for my little flock and the status of my 501(c)3 corporation, but that won’t be the primary thing or the matter that consumes me—-my all-in-all will be Jesus. And if that is the case, I will at times rebuke friend and foe and do my best to shut down those things that are not allowing others to see and hear Jesus!
So who or what is it that come across that is not allowing someone to hear about Jesus? And worse, am I the one that is making so much noise that the gospel is being drowned? Have those of us that lead become Elymases? I believe a lot of us are blind (as well as our nation)—-but my fervent prayer is that it “just for a time…”