26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”
34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
Some of the most imp0rtant questions Christians ask themselves will be along the lines of “am I where God wants me to be in life?”, “is God directing me the way He desires to?”, “am I fulfilling God’s purpose for my life”. These kinds of questions all have to do with guidance. In Acts 8, we see a simple story of Philip – a deacon in the early church. Though simple on the surface, we can observe a few key points from it that can help us in our everyday lives.
Verses 5-8 tell us that the Lord was using Philip mightily. People were being healed and delivered, and the city of Samaria was rejoicing. The revival was so great that news of it spread to Jerusalem – to the apostles of the Church. They came down to Samaria to help (v14). Look at v26. In the midst of the revival, the angel of the Lord tells Philip to head south on the road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. Notice something here. The instruction was very simple. The Lord did not tell Philip what was going to happen when he went on the road. Philip wasn’t told who he was going to or why. The instruction was basically one small step – stop what you are doing and go. The Lord seeks to lead us like this today. He will give us a simple command. He will not tell us why He has given it, or what the outcome will be. The choice is up to us, as it was with Philip. Will we obey or not? Are we open to being “interrupted” by God? Like Philip, we may be in the midst of our own plans. Everything is going our way in a certain respect, when God suddenly comes to us and says “OK, you have been having great success here, but I want you to go in a different direction”. This is the challenge for us today. Are we willing to trust God enough to leave the comfort of the known, to enter – by faith – the uncertainty of the unknown?
Notice Philip’s response in v27 – he got up and went. Philip did not reason with God, nor ask why he should go. To be honest, I think I may have questioned God a little. I may have thought “I am leading a major revival in town, and God wants me to just leave in the middle of it? Is it really God speaking to me?” Not Philip. He knew God’s voice and he obeyed swiftly. No doubts, no questions, no hesitation. This is key. We must in these times get to that level of faith and relationship with God, that we can know His voice so clearly that when He speaks we obey.
Once Philip obeyed, the task at hand started to unfold. He saw the Ethiopian eunuch God wanted him to speak to. The Holy Spirit spoke to Philip, telling him to join the eunuch’s chariot. The second instruction came because the first one was obeyed. If Philip ignored the command to go in the first place, then the Holy Spirit couldn’t have told him to join the chariot.
Likewise, if we cannot or will not heed God’s guidance in the initial stages, we risk missing out on further guidance in the future. We risk hindering Him from revealing His plan to us. Once Philip joined the chariot, the Lord used him to help the man. He taught him the scriptures, shared the gospel of Christ and baptized him. This illustrates the great results of obedience. We can take encouragement to know that if we but only trust God and obey, He can use us to help others. He can reveal His will so us, so that we can be clear and prosperous in our purpose.
One last point. In today’s world, people place a lot of significance on numbers, especially in Christan ministry. The slogan of the day is “church with 20,000 members” or “crusade where 100,000 turned up”. The Lord doesn’t see things like that or always place the significance on it that we as humans do. Philip was commanded to leave a crowd of hundreds, possibly thousands in a city, to go and lead one man to Christ. Imagine that. That’s why Matthew 18:12-14 says
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Let us as believers in Christ endeavor to be a blessing to as many people as we can. However let us always be mindful that sometimes, the Lord wants us to be there for just one person at a time.