To remind my brothers and sisters in Christ that God is in control of all things, even Satan’s schemes against us.
Satan Under Every Rock?
In part of my daily Bible reading , I came across this comment from Paul:
“…we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
Can we accuse Paul of finding Satan under every rock? After all, how did Paul know that it was actually Satan who hindered him from seeing the Thessalonians? How exactly did Satan hinder Paul from visiting the Thessalonians anyway?
To tell you the truth, I don’t have answers for any of these questions. But I do have an application from this text that has greatly encouraged me.
Retracing The Steps
Let’s first get a grasp on the timeline of events. Luke tells us that Paul spent “three Sabbath days” discipling the Thessalonians (Acts 17:1-3). Some of the local Jews found out about the teaching and formed a mob. As a result, Paul and Silas were sent to Berea (5-10). While teaching there, the Jews from Thessalonica got word of their preaching again and stirred up the crowds there as well (13). Thus Paul was finally sent to Athens to get away from it all.
During this time, Paul wasn’t able to visit the Thessalonians to encourage them face to face. Paul attributes this to the enemy’s hand. He was worried that the Thessalonians’ faith had been compromised by the enemy (1 Thess. 3:5), so he sent Timothy to check on them and encourage them in their faith (1 Thess. 3:2).
And to Paul’s joy, Timothy came back with a great report. The church was doing much for the kingdom of God! In response to Timothy’s report, Paul wrote this first letter to encourage the Thessalonians in their faith and correct a few of their misconceptions.
So here’s the order. Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians as a response to Timothy’s good report. Paul had to send Timothy to the Thessalonians because he was hindered by Satan and couldn’t visit them himself. Paul couldn’t stay to disicple the Thessalonians as long as he needed to because of the persecution brought on by the enemy.
God’s Sovereign Hand
This is an amazing example of God’s sovereignty over Satan and his devices. Without the initial persecution from the Jews, Paul could have taught the Thessalonians for a longer period of time. Thus there would have been no need for him to write this first letter.
Also, Satan hindered Paul from teaching the Thessalonians in person a second time. If Satan didn’t hinder Paul, there would have been no need for him to write this first letter since he could have discipled them longer!
In other words, Satan’s attempt to hinder the Gospel led Paul to writing his first letter to the Thessalonians. The earliest piece of Christian writing in the New Testament was brought about by God through the means of Satan’s plans!
As a result, Paul’s teaching in 1 Thessalonians is being read by millions of Christians two thousand years later. Satan thought he was hindering the Gospel when in fact he was only spreading it even more!
Call to Motion
We can rejoice to know that “all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28), even Satan’s devices. We are reminded that God is fully in control, and that no circumstance is too much for Him to handle.
I encourage you to take time today and look back over the difficult events in your life. How was God able to bring good out of those circumstances?
Almighty God, Maker of all things. You are in control of even Satan’s devices, and no one can hinder Your ultimate plans. Enable me to see your sovereignty on display in my life as I reflect on how You make all things work together for my good. May Your will be done in my life, as it is in heaven. Amen.