THE GOSPEL GOES TO AFRICA
“Later God’s angel spoke to Philip, ‘At noon today I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.’ He got up and went. He met an Ethiopian eunuch coming down the road. The eunuch had been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was returning to Ethiopia, where he was minister in charge of all the finances of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was riding in a chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah.” Acts 8:26-28 (The Message)
Another strategic setup for the spread of the gospel!
A black man from Africa, a man of considerable importance in his country, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Why would he do that? Obviously he was not in favour of the animistic religion of his own people. He took the long and dangerous journey from Ethiopia, through the mountains and across the desert to worship the one true God of the Jews.
Not only that but he possessed a copy of the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and he was reading it as he travelled. One wonders where he got hold of a treasure like that. He could not buy one from the local bookshop! All this adds up to a man who was seeking God, and God knew about it.
Philip was God’s man; not Peter or John – they were still too clogged up with prejudice. They were willing to accept that God had given salvation and the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans but, after all, they did have some Jewish blood in them. But a black man from Africa! It would take too much time to convince them. By the time they got going he would be well on his way home.
Philip’s response was immediate. His obedience perfectly matched the timing of the traveller. No questions asked. No details required. Philip was learning a valuable lesson about walking in the Spirit. God did not need to give him a Google map for his journey. Just take the next step and you’ll know what to do.
He did what he was told; he went to the desolate road to Gaza and the only traveller he encountered was a man who was seeking God. Philip didn’t barge in. He was in the right place at the right time to do anything God wanted of him but he waited for the next instruction.
“The Spirit told Philip, ‘Climb into the chariot.’ Running up alongside, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?”” Acts 8:29-30 (The Message).
Philip had to think quickly. How could he get an invitation to join the man in the chariot? This guy would not be in the habit of picking up hitchhikers. With the wisdom of God, Philip asked the one question that would give him a place in the chariot, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ That made an immediate connection with the eunuch. “He answered, ‘How can I without some help?’ and invited Philip into the chariot with him.” Acts 8:31 (The Message).
This was a God-ordained and a God-orchestrated moment not only for this man but for his people and his continent and Philip was ready for it because of his simple obedience.
How do we know the potential in our obedience to the Lord in just being in the right place at the right time, or picking up the telephone at the right moment? God does not have to offer explanations or go into detail to connect us with people to whom He wants to make Himself known. He hears the cry of a seeking heart and manoeuvres someone into position to answer that call.
All He needs from us is a listening ear and a willing heart. He does the rest.