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Miracle In The Desert

(3)

Sermon shared by Steven Ferber

May 2012
Summary: The Ethiopian Eunuch's conversion shows us that God works through the Holy Spirit, the Word, and through His people who willingly step out in faith. God can do great things through His children who are led by the Spirit!
Denomination: Lutheran
Audience: Believer adults
Sermon:
Some of us remember the movie Raiders Of The Lost Ark from 1981, where Indiana Jones discovers the Ark of the Covenant, the 4-foot long container holding the two tablets of the 10 commandments that God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai. Jones takes the Ark back to America, and at the end of the movie you see it being stored with millions of other crates in a humungous building. That’s fiction, of course, but it makes us wonder: where is the Ark of the Covenant today? Was it destroyed, is it intact and in a cave somewhere waiting to be found again, or is somebody keeping it?

The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia claims that it has the ark. They say that when the Queen of Sheba, ruler of Ethiopia visited King Solomon around 1,000 B.C., she witnessed first-hand Solomon’s great wisdom, the great temple, and the great land of Israel. She also got pregnant by him and bore his child when she returned to her homeland. Years later, her son returned to Israel to visit his father. Unbeknownst to her son, his companions stole the ark and brought it back to Ethiopia! Today it’s being guarded by a group of virgin priests in a chapel high in the mountains of northern Ethiopia. Nobody but the priests are allowed to see it.

Quite a story! We don’t know if any of it is true. But we do know that the Christian church in Ethiopia is ancient. In fact, since about 350 A.D. Christianity has been the official religion of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest churches in the world! And it just might be that in our Bible reading for today we find the reason why. An Ethiopian official on his way home from Jerusalem hears the Good News of the Gospel and becomes a Christian. Tradition says he was the first gentile, the first non-Jew, to convert to Christianity. And when he returned to his homeland, he became the founder of the Christian Church in Ethiopia.

The Holy Spirit moved one man, Philip, to go and tell the Good News to another man. That event becomes the spark that ignites an entire nation. One person can make a difference in the world. That person can be you. Let’s read this inspiring story and see how God worked in the heart of this man from Ethiopia. Let’s get inspired to believe that God can work through each of us too…
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road - the desert road- that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’” Philip is a man who shows up in Acts chapter 6. The Bible says he was chosen, along with 6 other men, to oversee the distribution of food to the Christian widows in Jerusalem. He was chosen, the Bible says, because he was one of the men full of the Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3-5). Then persecution hits the church: Stephen is martyred (7:60), Christians are scattered (8:1), Saul begins to “destroy” the church (8:2). Philip, one of the scattered, went to a city in Samaria and preached the Gospel. Multitudes came to faith in Christ. Then God led Philip to another place: “An angel of the Lord said, ‘Go…to the desert road that leads to Gaza.”

Notice - the Spirit leads, Philip goes. He comes to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, called the Gaza strip, the trade route to Egypt and north Africa. When he reaches the road, the Spirit again leads, to a specific
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