Lydia a seller of purple whose heart was opened by God: filling the void and bringing eternal satisfaction to her soul.
Lydia was met by Paul and Luke as she was in a place of prayer along the river bank near Thyatira. Lydia and other woman were found here praying on the Sabbath in the outskirts of a city that was filled with darkness and evil about them. It is thought that Lydia was a Gentile woman who was a proselyte, or one who had converted to a belief in Judaism, and she was gathered along with other devout Jewish woman in prayer.
The Lord opened Lydia’s heart and Paul was able to give her the gospel message, coming according to the will of God on His life from a long and arduous journey bringing the gospel message into these lands of Europe meeting along the river this particular day was not by chance but rather by a strategic “God induced moment” as He divinely prepared this particular pathway in advance of Paul and Luke, drawing Lydia unto this river bank on this particular day, spiritually thirsty in this very moment, as her heart was opened unto the truth of God. She had joined other ladies in the worship of God but was not enlightened unto the power of His saving grace and mercy quickened spiritually alive on this day. Lydia’s change of heart came in the work of God in a supernatural but soft way changing her life forever.
Please take note that it was the work of God who opened and prepared Lydia’s heart to receive the gospel message. It was not something she could have done herself. This Bible says “whose heart the Lord opened…” giving credit where credit is due. Lydia was willing and Paul was used of God to bring about her spiritual increase unto Him through hearing the truth and placing her faith in Him. Soon after both her and all her household were baptized. Paul’s impromptu journey to these lands in Europe as he allowed God to veer him off of his desired pathway unto the avenue of the Holy Spirit’s leading cultivated many hungry souls to Christ in this region.
The Bible does not give any further insight into the personal life of Lydia. There is mention of her having a husband or any children. The Bible talks briefly about her life from the standpoint of her new found faith in God and that she had a lucrative business as a seller of purple. Many surmise she must have been a single woman because of her ownership in a seemingly successful business. However, there is nothing mentioned in the Bible that can definitively support this speculation.
The Bible tells us Lydia dealt or traded in articles that were dyed of a purple die. This purple dye was likely not available extensively and was found in the vicinity in which she lived called Thyatira. Lydia likely would not have traveled a great distance on her own to replenish her stock. This particular dye was highly sought after by people who occupied positions of high social status or one of authority because of the rarity of this color purple. Certain shellfish which were a source of this color dye.
Lydia worked to fill a niche with her peculiar purple and indigo trade making her business a successful venture, just as many successful minded people find accomplishment in business today in an area of expertise or specialty they are renowned for. Lydia’s success in the ancient biblical business world helps to pave the way for woman who desire to be successful in business ventures today as well. The call on a woman’s life from God can include having His godly character along with a business sense and success as Lydia’s life illustrated. However, God does not necessarily reward people upon this earth in a financial or material way; but He will always reward His faithful in the eternal realm. Those who are evil and wicked can share in monetary and material success in this world right along with those who are living a righteous life; the difference lying in the object of their faith and admiration. Godly lives point exclusively to God as Lydia’s life surely did.
The color purple was given special meaning in the Bible. It was associated with the likes of kings and other members of royalty and known to be worn by the Romans who adorned themselves in purple. Therefore, purple was associated as a color of royalty and social prestige. In fact Jesus was placed in a purple robe by Pilate before He was hung on the cross. This was meant to mock His claim of being a King by those who did not believe He was as He said “King of Kings”:
Perhaps some in this boisterous crowd were familiar with or had heard of a woman named Lydia who sold spectacular purple dyed garments and robes for royalty because the Romans were said to be attired in purple from the lands of Thyatira. Likely Lydia had heard of the harsh treatment of this man Jesus Christ and His death upon the cross to appease the crowds jeering and mocking him. However, she did not personally know this man and the God head and His Son Jesus Christ until the day she providentially met a man of God named Paul and meeting Jesus and drinking in His spiritual water unto new life.
After the prosperous spiritual meeting Paul had with Lydia at the riverside, Paul and his companion would find themselves thrown in jail close by. God providentially provided a way of escape from this prison via an earthquake which struck subsequently releasing the cell doors and jarring them wide open. This miraculous occasion came through the hand of God who supernaturally controls events of nature to bring about His will. Nothing can keep the will of God from coming to pass, the bars of a jail cell could not keep Paul and his traveling companions from being released in such an unconventional way. God desires to release you from your spiritual prison walls in a miraculous way as well.
The guard who had been on guard duty in the jail had been ready to commit suicide rather than remain behind as he surmised all those in the jail made their quick and easy escape in the darkness of this night but the men chose to stand by the guard rather than run away. This peculiar behavior influenced the guard to listen to Paul’s words and counting them of great importance and he was able to give him the gospel message and the guard was led to salvation receiving the message of truth of God. God subsequently led him to simply release these prisoners allowing them to go on their way. Lydia came into a relationship with God in a modest and reserved fashion but the jailer was shaken spiritually alive in an incredible event.
It is likely Paul and his companions had prayed fervently to God out loud while locked in their jail cell. The Bible tells us the men had sung out loud in their cell worshiping and praising God. The earthquake and subsequent opening of their cell had been a mighty display of God’s power to the jailer who had heard Paul and his companion praising God. The jailor’s heart was hardened and God knew that it would take an occurrence of this supernatural magnitude to open the hardened floodgate of his heart making it ripe and ready for the truths of God to settle into the cracks and crevices of his thirsty heart. God uses different approaches according to the spiritual condition and temperament flourishing in the heart of a person, bringing about His desired end accomplished through His great mercy upon the avenue of grace, taking mankind from where he is to where God desires Him to be. God knows the spiritual condition of your heart and mine.
Immediately upon their sudden and unexpected release from their jail cell at the hands of God Paul and his companion headed straightway towards the hospitable house of Lydia. There was a local gathering of like-minded individuals in her house established perhaps because there was no local temple. The Bible is clear that Paul and his traveling companions met with other brethren gathered in Lydia’s house.
It is likely that Lydia’s house was used of God to both physically and spiritually strengthen Paul and Luke who were in need of sustenance and support before they could continue on in their journey bringing the gospel message to those they met along their journey according to God’s will. Lydia was willing and obedient to open up her house unto the needs of those who were busy about doing the will of God. Have you opened yourself, your life, and your home for God’s use in sowing, watering, and increasing the seeds of His gospel message?
Lydia’s was busy searching for the truths of God prior to Paul and Luke coming into Thyatira meeting her along the river bank. Lydia was a Gentile who had chosen to convert, or proselyte, unto the Jewish belief system. Lydia had a natural yearning in her heart, as all mankind naturally does, searching for something to place her faith and belief upon. There are many searching to fill the spiritual void in their heart but they are searching in vain, finding solutions that will never fill the gaping hole in their heart only God can fill.
However devout and prayerful this handful of Jewish ladies were they did not have the life-changing supernatural truths of God. Their belief was erroneously placed in a religion that does not operate upon the foundation and power of a living God, rather is based upon their own works and of their own ability to keep the law rather than upon a personal relationship with a living God. This is a “self-religion rather than a personal relationship based upon the work of God through faith. Jewish beliefs do not rest in Jesus Christ but in the keeping the law, Jewish people are good people who hold onto religious traditions and events, having nothing personal to do with God, His Son, or The Holy Spirit, or recognizing Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in their life.
What are you personally basing your belief in? Often mankind likes to “work” his way to heaven through good deeds and service rather than resting in the fact that Jesus finished the work on the cross through His shed blood. We desire to make it all about us and what we accomplish rather than about His great mercy and grace and His finished work on the cross. He willingly died on the cross for all mankind; even while we were sinners and not because any man deserves His great mercy and grace.
God works supernaturally to cause those who are available and eager to sow the seed of His gospel message to be in just the right area at just the right time for an individual who needs desperately to hear His Word, God sent Paul on a roundabout journey, not the original journey he personally desired to take so that he would be in Thyatira to witness and disciple Lydia. If Paul had followed his own accord he would not have been used of God.
How often do you and I embark upon our own journey, with our own plan, and to our own destination; rather than follow the plan of God for our life? Let Lydia’s life and Paul’s willingness serve as great examples of following in the way God provides for us in bringing to pass the distinct call God has upon our life.
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