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"Messengers of Satan, Messages From God"
God gave to the Apostle Paul what Paul termed a "thorn in the flesh" (II Corinthians 12:7). He also called it "the messenger of Satan to buffet me."
We do not know the nature of the thorn despite much conjecture through the centuries by students of Scripture. We simply know this: the thorn hurt - thorns do that - and the thorn humbled - "lest I be exalted above measure" wrote the Apostle regarding the reason for his challenge. Indeed, Paul had been so blessed with revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His truth that like any human being, he required his Heavenly Father to apply pain in order to keep him in his place. "Knowledge puffeth up" wrote Paul to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 8:1). God's thorns rend the sails of pride that would lead us to crash on the rocks of self importance. "Before I was afflicted, I went astray. But now I have kept Thy Word" (Psalm 119:67).
We are not the Apostle Paul. However, we all require God's humbling work no less than did our brother of old. Without messengers of Satan to buffet us, as it were, we would all end up exalting ourselves in some manner. This is likely one reason Scripture does not define Paul's thorn. We all need its application, and since we are all different, the nature of our challenges must be personally and specifically administered. The God who numbers the hairs of our heads knows how to apply the pressure in ways that first get our attention, and then our acknowledgement of what needy creatures we are. "LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am" (Psalm 39:4).
That "messengers of Satan" are the agents of God's humbling work reminds us also of Job. You know the story: a godly man assaulted by the devil, who required God's permission to execute evil attacks that become God's way of humbling and educating Job. "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of mine ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee" confessed Job as his trial concluded (Job 42:5). Messengers of Satan? Yes. But messages from God in the far greater sense. Like Paul and like all of us, blessed Job needed to be put in his place in order to be aware of his need for grace. Not a one of us would avoid crashing on the rocks of pride without the messengers and their message. We require the thorns, painful as they are, and our Heavenly Father uses proud devils to humble His children and keep us in the place of grace.
"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
"God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble."
(I Peter 5:5)
"LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am."
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