Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said,“How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Philip has started moving about the countryside beyond Jerusalem as the Spirit leads. He has gone to Caesarea, the city that was hated by the Jewish population because it was so overrun by Gentile influence. Now he goes to a dignitary from Ethiopia. The details point out that Philip is talking with a man on influence and wealth. The gospel does not reject those who are privileged. It can use their position to help others. It can use their power to gain traction for the gospel.
The immediacy of the action of both Philip and the Ethiopian are lessons for us. When the Spirit prompts we must act. We must not think too highly of ourselves and we must not think too little of ourselves. God can use anyone. It is not that the person must be perfect, God will use any heart that is submitted to him to bring about his will. Rather than ask “Why me?” we might ask, “Why not me?” We do not have to have great qualifications and there is only one real disqualification, a heart that is not inclined toward God’s will. A lot of people miss out on the prompting of the Spirit because they think that change must take time. Sometimes, of course, God works changes over a long time. Sometimes he works them in an instant. We can not dictate that God’s working be fast or slow, we just surrender to the direction of the Spirit and we let him move us.
I am speaking up quite a lot at Moody in situations where I think I am surrounded by people who are more qualified or more godly than me. However, I know that when I talk I could choose not to talk. If someone else was moved to say the same things, I would not be in competition and I would not feel slighted. I speak up because I feel a prompting of the Holy Spirit. The school I work for needs to pray and seek God fervently. That starts with all of us kneeling before God and aligning ourselves with him. Then, if he prompts us to act, we act. Like Philip we may be surprised at who we find God wants to talk to through us.
I am amazed at your grace. I am grateful for times when you have used me despite my emotional weakness and my physical condition. However, I am surrendering more to you because I want nothing more than to see your will be done. It is a minute by minute choice, but I pray that you would keep my heart focused on you.
- Where was Philip when he was prompted to act?
- How swift was the obedience or response of both Philip and the Ethiopian?
- What do you think happened in Ethiopia?
- How swift do we react to the Lord’s prompting?
- What is the Lord prompting you to do?
Note: For answers to questions like #3 above, I am interested in reading After Acts by Bryan Litfin. http://www.moodypublishers.com/pub_productDetail.aspx?id=41829&pid=143090