Summary: Looking at the life of Phillip, here was one person who was ready to run his faith out to reach other.
When we think of Evangelism, the general thought that runs through most minds is of a crusade with someone like Billy Graham. A planned special event. Most evangelism does not happen that way. It takes place in the normal activities of our day, seizing the opportunities which are around us. Tonight we are going ot look at the life of Philip, and in particular, his conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch found in Acts 8:26-40.
A. Answering with Obedience sets the stage.
Now and angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—a desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. Acts 8:26
Gaza was one of the five principle cities of the Philistines. The road from Jerusalem ran through old Gaza which had been destroyed in the first century B.C. to Egypt. God intervened in Phillips life by sending an angel to give him instructions to travel down that road to Gaza. What is interesting is the comment this is a desert road. There were two roads which lead out of Jerusalem to Egypt through old Gaza, and the one Phillip was to travel was the one less traveled. That is what God calls us to as well, the road less traveled in life, but the one that brings us God encounters. Phillip is about to meet the Ethiopian eunuch, and this is no chance encounter on the well worn path of life, but one that takes place on a side road, a desert road, one not traveled by the majority of people.
B. Believers on the move are used by God.
So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. Vs. 27, 28
Phillip is obedient to the word from the angel and starts out on his way to Gaza where it records he comes upon an Ethiopian eunuch reading a passage from the Old Testament, from Isaiah. Luke has tied the Ethiopian with Judaism, having come to the Jerusalem to worship.
Had Phillip not set out when he heard from the angel, we would not be reading this passage concerning the conversion soon to take place. How often do we procrastinate when God has spoken to us, and how many opportunities do we miss as a result. God uses people who are on the move, not sitting still. In the Gospels, Jesus was not sitting holding court, he was out actively pursuing people and changing their lives. If we want to see the power of God unleashed in our community, then we need to be out in the community making it happen.
People are all around seeking God. The Ethiopian was a true seeker. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship and so he was ready to know and receive the truth. He was a man of great power and prestige, the treasurer to Candice, the queen mother who ruled on behalf of her son the king since the king in Ethiopia was considered to be a child of the sun and therefore too holy to be involved in the secular functions of the kingdom.
Luke does not tell us what the Ethiopian was reading, one commentator said it could well have been Isaiah 56:3-5 which says
Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.” And let not any eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.” For this is what the Lord says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.”
C. Close Encounters open doors
The best way to reach someone is not through the mail, or putting a tract on their windshield, or sending smoke signals. If you want to reach someone it requires a close encounter of the Godly kind. You are Christ ambassadors to a world lost without the knowledge you have of salvation.
The Spirit told Phillip “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Phillip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Phillip asked. Vs. 29-30
I have this picture in my mind, the chariot traveling down the road and Phillip running alongside. That would cause me to take up the reins and speed it up, it could have been a chariot-jacker.
Phillip, being obedient to the original instructions, now receives further instructions from the Spirit. If you use what the Lord has already given you, being obedient to the call, this prepares you to receive further instruction which will open a whole new vista of opportunity. Slackers become lackers, obedience leads to abundance. So what do you want to be, lacking or living in abundance. If you want the abundant life you have to get going, respond by doing what you are instructed and reap the reward along the way.