There are many remarkable aspects to this story. One is that Phillip was able to hear from the Lord. The Lord is continually speaking to his people through His Word, through visions and dreams, through other people, through circumstances, through angels and through the Holy Spirit.
Question – “How does the Lord most often communicate to you – and what have you heard from Him recently that has impacted and changed the direction of your life?” Another remarkable aspect to this story is that Philip not only heard from the Lord, but he obeyed the Lord. When the angel first spoke to Philip, he was in the midst of a great revival in Samaria. The Lord instructed Philip to leave that place where there were many people who were responding to his ministry, to go to a desert place where he might not meet anyone. How would you have responded to such a directive? Remarkably, Philip simply obeyed the Lord – and his obedience led to the encounter with the man from Ethiopia.
A third remarkable aspect to this story is that the man was reading from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah. Obviously this man was religious and had some interest in God, but because he didn’t yet know the Lord, he couldn’t understand what he was reading. I have discovered that many non-Christians are intrigued by the Bible, and are willing to read the Word of God even when they aren’t willing to believe in the Son of God. Oftentimes, however, in the midst of reading the Scriptures, they are convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin and the emptiness of their lives, and they become convinced that perhaps this message about a Savior and His wonderful salvation is real and applicable to their lives.
Second Question – “Whom do you know, religious or irreligious, that you could give a Bible or Christian book to?” If we will just put the Bible or information about the Lord and the Christian faith in the hands of non-Christians, we will be amazed at what God can and will do in their lives.
A fourth remarkable aspect to this story is that this educated man from Ethiopia was willing to admit that although intrigued by what he was reading, he didn’t understand what he was reading (Acts 8:31). I believe that there are many people in our world today who are waiting for some Spirit-led “instructors” to come alongside them to help them understand what is needed to receive the Lord or grow in the Lord.
Third Question – “Whom do you know that needs ‘instruction’ about the Lord or the Christian faith – and what would or could you tell them?” People sometimes are afraid to ask or too proud to ask, but many people around us are waiting for someone to come alongside them and instruct them about the Lord.
Our story ends with the man from Ethiopia receiving the Lord and being baptized, and then Philip was immediately “spirited” away by the Lord to take care of another assignment. We don’t actually know what happened to the Ethiopian man, but tradition tells us that he went back to his country telling others about Jesus. Perhaps the gospel was brought to Africa because Philip heard from and obeyed the Lord, and was willing to sacrifice his time to instruct someone about the Lord. There are people of influence all around us who are waiting for a spiritual instructor – and if we will take the time to instruct them, they may become great catalysts for the kingdom of God where they live and work.
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to increase your sensitivity to hearing His voice; 2) Pray for the Lord to show you the people in your life that you are to be instructing; and 3) Pray for the Lord to give you the courage to obey Him, witness for Him and disciple others to become like Him.