“If then God gave the same gift to them as He gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” Acts 11:17
Who am I that I can stand in God’s way? Could I if I tried? Can anyone stand in God’s way? Because just recently I was thinking that someone else could be a hindrance to what the Lord was directing in my life. But I’ve come to the conclusion that to think that anything can stop You, Lord, or hinder You, is a lie straight from hell.
It’s not that I can’t be a hindrance or that someone else can’t be a hindrance. But if I look at the evidence of Scripture, the evidence of Your word, I, or satan, or anyone else, can only be a temporary hindrance. Or maybe it would be better said that we just appear as a hindrance.
Scripture uses a number of words to speak of hindrances. And I have no idea if this is an all-inclusive list. This is a sample. First, I listened to what Jonathan had to say in 1 Samuel 14:6. “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.'” Here, the Hebrew word for hinder is “matsor.” It refers to a restraint or hindrance. Somehow, Jonathan was under the impression that nothing, and in Hebrew that meant that NOTHING EXISTS that could restrain You, Lord, from doing what You were going to do and being who You are. Truth noted.
If I go to Job, I find his thoughts in Job 9:12. “Behold, He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who will say unto Him, ‘What are You doing?'” The word for hinder here is the Hebrew word “shub.” It means to “return..to turn from evil and to turn to God.” Well, that’s what it implies to us who need repentance. But God never needs to repent. There is no going off the course for You, Lord. James tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Now, I suppose He could alter how He brought something to pass, but it would always be in line with His character. It would always just be a different way of doing the same thing. So He never changes direction. His purpose will come to pass and He alone has the freedom to decide how.
Paul speaks of hinderances also. In 1 Corinthians 9:12 he shares, “Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of Christ.” So wait a minute. Isn’t Paul saying that people then can hinder the Gospel? Well, the word here is the Greek word “egkope” which means “to cut into, to impede one’s course by cutting off his way, hinder.” But wouldn’t that negate what we have already been learning about You? What if Paul means, “lest it appear that we hinder the Gospel”? Hold onto that thought a moment.
I want to look at one more statement from Paul in Galatians 5:7. “You did run well; who hindered you that you should not obey the truth?” Is Paul really blaming their decision to fall away from the truth on someone else? Really? The Greek word here is “anakopto”. It’s related to “enkopto.” It means “to block the way, to create an obstacle.” Or is Paul asking this question to prove a point and to drive it home? Which reminds me of James 1:14 “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by HIS OWN DESIRE.” Oh, well that’s a little different. Hmmm. So when Paul says, “What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”, he really means it.
It’s really important to get into the mindset of the original authors. And in this case it leads back to the Original Author. Reading Skip Moen’s Hebrew insights sheds a little light in that area. He shares, “Hebrew is a phenomenological language. It expresses the way things appear, not the ways things actually are.” He was looking at Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 which say, “For we wanted to come to you- I, Paul, more than once- and yet Satan hindered us.” Really? Satan can hinder God? Satan can thwart Your plans or cut them off or turn You around? Really?
That’s the point, not really. Skip Moen continues, “Yes, it’s true that Satan operates to upset God’s purposes, but there is not one hint that he does so independently of God’s will. He is not the divine anti-god. He is merely one of the heavenly beings whose role and scope of activity is determined by YHWH…So give the devil his due–which, by the way, isn’t much! And then think of God’s invisible hand working through even this antagonist no matter what appears to be.”
So, what does this have to do with believing? Well, here was this Gentile centurion named Cornelius. According to the religious Jews, just by his birth he was hindered. Yet, somehow, this man who appeared to be hindered to some, wasn’t being hindered by God. Somehow, amidst all the pressures to not look for God, this man wasn’t choosing to be hindered at all. In a pantheistic society he was “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms genereously to the people, and prayed continually to God.” So, so far even the culture that was perceived to be a hindrance to him wasn’t. And the knowledge he had of the true God wasn’t even a hindrance. And now we’re going to see that the Jewish culture couldn’t even hinder him.
Now, he has this dream from the Lord because He didn’t know the full truth about Jesus yet. “You need to send someone to Joppa and ask Simon Peter to come to you.” So he did. Now Peter has a lifetime of being a Jew behind him and thinking like a Jew. But God is going to make sure that does not hinder His plan. He gives Peter a dream. So when the men from Cornelius come to ask him to accompany them, even though they are Romans, it does not hinder Peter because this is part of God’s plan.
God breaks down all the seeming hindrances and Cornelius and his family are saved. And the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. You even gave them this visual and auditory sign that those who accompanied Peter saw. Because You already knew what the next attempted hindrance would be.
This same wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit that fell upon Cornelius and his family as they placed their trust and lives in Jesus, is the same Holy Spirit that fills us with His gifts. This is the same Spirit that leads us to the knowledge of Jesus and then leads us deeper into that knowledge, deeper into that realtionship. He is the One who shows us the truth about God, which seems like many truths to learn. But the truth I want to walk away knowing in You today, Lord, is that nothing can hinder You. And nothing can hinder me from walking in You.
I can be faithful in You and to You no matter what has been done to me and no matter what is going on around me. But I can only be as faithful as my submission to You. I need to take my eyes off of the hindrances, because they are just placed there to decieve me. No matter how terrible the hindrance, it just makes it a bigger, more terrible lie. But You are in control. And You are the Truth, the Way, and the Life. What will I believe? It will change the whole way I live my life.