Philip and the Ethiopian
Acts 8: He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road.
Philip is deeply involved in a great revival in Samaria. Miracles are taking place, and people are coming to faith in Jesus by the hundreds and, probably, thousands. The Holy Spirit is filling lives and Philip is at the heart of a real move of God. Then, the Lord speaks to Philip, sending him away from the action and out to the wilderness. Rather than ministering to thousands, he’s to watch for just one man, the one known in history simply as the Ethiopian eunuch. This person is more or less a mystery in the Bible. Here’s an African traveling to Jerusalem to worship. What’s up with that? Some think this proves the, mostly fictional, connection between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and that because of her visit to Solomon hundreds of years earlier that there’s now a pocket of Jehovah worshipers in northern Africa. Perhaps this man is one of those worshipers and, because of his standing in government, he’s able to make the long journey to Jerusalem to worship. It’s fun to speculate about stuff like this. However, for Philip, none of this matters. He’s on a mission from God to tell this mysterious man about Jesus and that’s what he does. The man believes in Jesus, asks to be baptized, and, as he’s baptized, Philip is whisked away by the Spirit to a town thirty miles away. As I read this story, I not only enjoy thinking of the mystery of the Ethiopian, but of Philip’s obedience to the seeming unreasonable orders of the Lord. If I’m in the middle of a great revival and the Lord tells me to leave it all and head out to the wilderness to find one person, I might be a bit hesitant, wondering if I’m hearing the Lord’s command correctly. Philip, though, just obeys and the result is this incident. Why this Ethiopian? My guess is that he becomes the first missionary for Jesus in Africa, boosting the spread of the Gospel in the direction opposite from Rome, which will soon be Paul and Silas’ territory. I may be wrong here, but it’s fun to think about stuff like this.
Take Away: The Lord’s definition of success is often quite different than ours.