“Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
This is one of the most important events in history. It marks the beginning of the missionary campaign to the church in Antioch. The results of this event brought the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire, and changed the face of Western Civilization. History would forever be changed as a result of these two men responding to the call of God. A few things strike me about God’s call.
First, it did not seem, at the outset, to be something grand. We read that God spoke; probably through one of the men with the gift of prophecy. He was to tell Barnabas and Saul to do what the Lord told them to do. That is far from a life altering experience. No mention is made of the room shaking, or lights coming from heaven. It may have happened much like this . . . while they were praying, one of the guys might have said, “I think the Lord is telling Barnabas and Saul to do what He already told them to do.” It was a message reaffirming what Barnabas and Saul had already sensed; what God wanted for them. So the saints of Antioch laid hands on them and sent them away. It would not be until they walked in faith-filled obedience to His call, that they would realize what God had in store for them.
I am also struck by where God called them. Again, we read that before this prophecy was given, Barnabas and Saul had already sensed a desire, or call of God to go . When it was confirmed, they packed their bags, and headed off to Cyprus. Cyprus is an island that sat out in the Mediterranean Sea and was the home town of Barnabas. They were called to share Christ with the people Barnabas grew up with. I think it is natural that as we grow in Christ, we develop a desire to see our friends and loved ones come to Christ; and that is exactly where God called them.
Finally, notice how they received the call of God. We read they “ministered to the Lord and fasted.” Ministering to the Lord would include worshipful prayer, and fasting (denying of the flesh’s desires). They heard from God when they got their eyes on Him and sought Him. The call of God comes when we spend time with Jesus. Too often, we want to determine what God wants for us, and spend all our time asking others. If you want to hear from God, get alone with Him, seek Him until He speaks, then do what He says.
Who knows what God may call you to, and how that may change the world forever.