Monday, March 29, 2010


There was a popular song back in the 1970’s with that title. It was written in 1970 by Hoyt Axton, and originally sung by Three Dog Night, the Australian group. Elvis Presley had a version of it that I remember. He sang it in live concerts. The lyrics indicated a fascination with the beauty, and intrigue of the Spanish nation, and its women, and a curiosity to go there on the part of the singer; yet, in the song, he never got there. I always thought I would like to go there, and although I have been in England and France, that is as close as I have come so far in my life of 67 years.

Paul the apostle planned to go to Spain. “Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come unto you” (Romans 15:24). This was his human plan, but in God’s purpose he met a detour. The ultimate detour was to Rome where Paul was executed. We may think an apostle would know whether his ambition would come true or not, but Paul did not. Was God’s purpose thwarted? Was Paul’s life cut short (other than in a human sense)? No! Emphatically no! Remember “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27), and “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23). God had a purpose in Paul dying in Rome, and not on the isle of Melita when the viper bit him (Acts 28:1-6), or in Jerusalem (Acts 23:27), or Lystra when he was stoned (Acts 14:19). We can see some of His purpose in the thriving early church there in Rome. There were in subsequent years, many others executed there for Christ’s sake. There were many Christians in that empire then, and many more martyrs after the Roman church became the heretical Roman Catholic church with all its corruption.

Yet in the early days the gospel spread from there, as it had from Jerusalem earlier. God had a purpose in Paul not getting to Spain, but Rome instead. Paul had wanted to see Rome also, but I see nothing to indicate he expected to die there; at least not at first. Later, as he was under imprisonment, he knew he would not get to Spain, for he told Timothy “For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:6-7). Some scholars speculate that Paul did get to Spain between his two Roman imprisonments, but there is no mention of that in scripture. I believe if he had, we would have been told about his work there as we were regarding Philippi, Corinth, and even Rome. He likely never made it to Spain. I may never get to Spain either, but if I can have a testimony similar to Paul at the end, I won’t care. Follow Paul as he followed Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1).

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