And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. (Acts 8:27-29 KJV)
Up until now, the Good News of the Kingdom of Jesus had spread primarily to Jews. This is not unexpected, as they were the first covenant people of God, and through them Christ was born and moved about in the flesh. Hence, they had a right to be the first partakers of the proceeds of redemption. Hence, if you got into the first Church of Jesus, you would hardly meet a black man! Maybe all shades of white, but hardly one who was black.
But the Lord Jesus was not joking. He told them to start in Jerusalem and move to Judea, then to Samaria, but the goal was to be the ends of the earth. By the design of heaven, all men were supposed to hear the Gospel, and Africans were not to be left behind. In this passage, we see a most astounding mercy which God showed to a black man (a fellow African like me).
The revival in Samaria had gained traction. Peter and John had visited the revival and filled men with the Holy Spirit, but the Lord was not yet done with him. He was in this heat of great exploits when the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” (Acts 8:26 KJV)
What touches my heart is that God knew that he had a great revival going on, and there were multitudes of disciples in Samaria to be looked after. Philip was a mighty evangelist- the type that should be holding Great Gospel Crusades and multitudes will be saved in their thousands. Yet, God called him out to go to a desert road, away from all his ministry and all his disciples. Why? Simply because of a single black man, who was navigating that road with his eyes on the Scriptures and his heart crying for help.
He was a political office holder; the treasurer of the Ethiopian Queen Candace (pronounced ‘Kandake’). However, it was not his money that drew the Lord’s attention to him, but his seeking heart. He was a proselyte (a convert to Judaism), and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, after which he was now returning back home. Through all the ages, world without end, if anyone seeks the Lord with all his heart, such man would have the Lord’s mercy.
Philip never knew where the Lord was taking him, but he obeyed. When he met this man on the chariot reading the book of Isaiah, guided by the Spirit he joined his chariots, and asked him a very critical question, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30 GNB). There is no better question to ask the sons of men in times like these but this, “Are you understanding what you are reading?” There are many who have become experts in reading the Bible and other books but do lack understanding. It is a most sorry situation.
The narrative of their encounter went thus: “The portion from Isaiah he was reading was this: He was led away to the slaughter like a lamb to be offered. He was like a lamb that is silent before those who sheared him—he never even opened his mouth. In his lowliness justice was stripped away from him. And who could fully express his struggles? For his life was taken from the earth. The Ethiopian asked Philip, “Please, can you tell me who the prophet is speaking of? Is it himself or another man?” Philip started with this passage and shared with him the wonderful message of Jesus.” (Acts 8:32-35 TPT)
Are you a preacher of the Gospel? Of course by that I mean, are you a Christian? If yes, can you preach Jesus from Isaiah 53? Can you? Do you know that the real bone of the Gospel is found in that chapter, in the realities of what Jesus had done for us? I am glad that Heaven could trust Philip to handle this stranger in the wilderness; and he did a good job. Their discussion must have lasted quite long. Philip talked with this Ethiopian as they passed on deeper into the desert road without worrying about how he was going to come back. Unlike many of us who consider the passage of time and our own comfort when ministering to other lives, Philip forgot that he was talking to a black man – a Gentile. He also forgot that he was on a desert road and there was no way he could come back for a long time all by himself if he continues in that road. In all these, however, he never stopped until the Ethiopian believed in the Lord Jesus and was baptized in water.
When they came up out of the water, Philip was suddenly snatched up by the Spirit of the Lord and instantly carried away to the city of Ashdod, where he reappeared, preaching the gospel in that city. The man never saw Philip again. He returned to Ethiopia full of great joy. Philip, however, traveled on to all of the towns of that region, bringing them the good news, until he arrived at Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40 TPT)
Having finished his assignment, Philip was snatched away (Gr. harpazo) by the Spirit to the city of Ashdod where he continued preaching the Gospel. As for the Ethiopian, he went on with gladness and joy rejoicing at what the Lord had done in his life. Part of his joy would be the realization that Jesus of Nazareth considered him so important that he sent one of his own servants (at his discomfort) to bring the Gospel to him. Also, having been baptized with water, and possibly sealed with the Holy Spirit, he was no longer going back to Africa alone, but had with him the Spirit of the Age to come! What a blessing! What a privilege!
AND SO? Do you know that you are very precious to God? No matter the colour of your skin; no matter your place of residence, not matter what it is that you have done, God loves you and wants to help you. But will you humble yourself, and accept his help? Would you humble yourself and accept God’s servants sent to help you?
Much more, do you know how valuable a soul is before God? Some of us would rather come to the internet and share many posts trying to preach the Gospel than spend some time with a single soul (one on one) communicating the Gospel of Jesus to that life. That is why it is important that we realize that the greatest soul winners are not necessarily those of us who are posting things online, but those who are taking the pains of sitting down with people, one on one, till Christ is formed in them. May the Lord help us to value the souls of men and to labour until they fully come to the knowledge of the Lord.