Thoughts from the Sycomore’s weekly reading of Acts…
8:26 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 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.”
As we can see from today’s text, angelic encounters do happen. It’s important to remind ourselves, however, that even in Scripture these occurrences are rare. And as we read the rest of the story, we can see that this is actually a very special meeting—with one of the most influential members of an entire people group, an extremely high Ethiopian official. The encounter with an angel and this Ethiopian eunuch should not take away from the fact that Philip’s journey was not an easy one.
As a result of an outburst of persecution in Jerusalem, Philip ended up in Samaria (this is called the “diaspora”—a scattering of Christ followers from Jerusalem as a result of not responding to God’s command to go and make disciples). The direction of his journey from Jerusalem to Samaria is north—and it was quite a distance as well. To be told to—“Go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” is quite a distance OPPOSITE from the direction that Philip was originally heading. On top of that, he was having a rather productive ministry in Samaria before he was told to go “south.” By all accounts, Philip’s decision to journey south was actually a lot more difficult than we realize. And it’s no different from the decisions that we ourselves have to make when it comes to journeying in our own road with Jesus.
I won’t lie to you - God’s promptings often stir up plenty of anxiety and even annoyance (might as well get used to the fact that convenience and comfort will never be a part of the equation when it comes to our journey of faith). To make matters worse, things oftentimes just don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. BTW, after Philip goes south from Samaria towards Gaza, after his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch, he is once again taken back NORTH past where he originally was in Samaria to Caesarea! But that’s what’s at the core of faith isn’t it? Putting our trust in something or in this case, Someone whom we cannot see shouldn’t make any sense. The difference here is that though we can’t see this Someone, we know that He is most definitely with us—actually, dwelling in us. But the only way that we’re going to “know” this is when we’re in relationship with Him. And so, the key to being on this road with Jesus is not necessarily to become an expert at knowing this road that we’re on—though we sure do try. Nor is it to even know Him cognitively. It all actually hinges upon our trust in Him—that He knows this road that we’re on and even more importantly, that He knows us. #desiringGod2017