“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.” Acts 8.26-30
It is remarkable that what happened back then continues to happen still. God continues to speak, moves in people, and leads them by his Spirit. In this instance, God used an angel to fulfill his purposes and to send his message.
Philip is spoken to by an angel of the Lord. How does the angel speak? Those of us who walk with God understand this not as an audible voice but as an impression upon our hearts, minds and souls. Technically speaking, the ”how” of God speaking to us remains a mystery. How does God “actually” speak to our souls? How does He “impress” upon our hearts? How does a spiritual being speak to us who are body and soul? The mystery of it doesn’t deter from the truth that God communicates in this way. And he does so supernaturally. Its not something we have to figure out. It’s a spiritual means of communicating which the people of God have been receiving for thousands of years.
And so, God speaks through the angel to Philip and tells him specifically – “Go south to the road — the desert road — that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Now a few observations here….you always go “up” to Jerusalem, except when you are going down from Jerusalem (i.e. away from the city). From Jerusalem to Gaza is a major drop in elevation and climate. Jerusalem is in the Hill Country of Judea whereas Gaza is on the coast. The drop in elevation is significant. But so is the spiritual climate. Jerusalem is the Holy City and Gaza, well that is the land of the Philistines and other ungodly folk. It was along a major trade route moving from Africa through the Middle East up to Asia and Europe. Scholars call this area the ”fertile crescent” and forms a major land bridge connecting three continents.
This is where God’s angel sent Philip. And along this road Philip evangelized to an Ethiopian who just so happened to be in charge of the Ethiopian Queen’s treasury. He was a man of importance. The Gospel is about to go into Africa for the very first time. This eunuch was sitting in his chariot reading a copy of the book of Isaiah. Bibles were not easy to come by, and if you had one, it was in a scroll and was very, very expensive. This Ethiopian Jewish eunuch had money and an education, and was in the right place at the right time for the Gospel to be delivered to him. The Bible tells us, ”The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked,” (v. 29-30).
Now we will finish the rest of the story next time and find out what happens to the eunuch, but the end result is earth shattering! But for now, I’m focusing on how the Spirit/angel is leading Philip to take his Gospel to a whole new continent. Philip is listening and God is directing. The angel is leading, the Spirit is speaking through Philip with very specific directions on what to say and do. Philip doesn’t act until God tells him what to say. He goes where God tells him and waits until God gives him further directions.
If we have any sense of faith, any sensitivity to the Spirit, we too will learn from Philip and long to listen to God’s Spirit who is willing and able to speak. The impressions of the Lord that find communion with our souls will lead the righteous to accomplish God’s plan for the world.
Are you listening? Are you receptive? Are you willing to go where He sends you? Listen to his voice. Quiet your heart and mind and ask God’s voice to direct your steps now and for the days to come.
“O Lord God, you are good. I am grateful that you have blessed my life and called me to obedience in your name. Thank you Father for loving me. Thank you that you want to love the world through me and all who follow your voice. Come now, Holy Spirit, guide and direct my steps. Help me seek your face by faith. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen