He had no smartphone or computer to book a five-hour flight from Addis Ababa to Jerusalem. In fact, the Wright Brothers hadn’t been born let alone contemplating any aeroplane for the journey. Dr Luke simply called him “a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure”.
One of the early Church elders, St. Irenaeus of Lyons in his book, Adversus haereses, (Against the Heresies, an early anti-Gnostic theological work) 3:12:8 (180 AD), wrote regarding the Ethiopian eunuch, named him as Simeon Bachos the Eunuch.
Simeon was a proselyte who had made the 1994-mile journey from Ethiopia to Jerusalem for one of the three major feasts of Passover, Pentecost or Sukkot. It must have been an extremely long and arduous journey for the traveller. As he made his way back, he was still not satisfied by all the religious observations he had just made, he was still very hungry and thirsty, so he got out his expensive and most treasured possession, the Isaiah manuscript and started reading.
Unfortunately, the more he read the more confused he was. It was as if a mental and spiritual block had pegged him between a rock and a hard place (like many people reading their Bibles today). For all his zeal in travelling a four thousand-mile journey to worship God, he had reached an impasse.
“The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.” [Acts 8:32-33, italics mine]
Just as he pondered with the cells in his brain firing blanks, he heard a gentle masculine voice, “Understandest thou what thou readest?”
Immediately, Simeon took a look and saw a middle-aged Jew who was walking alongside his luxurious chariot and straight away bade his driver stop. Deep inside Simeone’s heart, he felt a sense of humility to acknowledge that he needed help, so he responded to the man, “How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” (vs 31)
Philip, a Jew, had been in the Jerusalem Church but due to intense persecution, had fled to Samaria, preaching Christ and experiencing a wonderful ministry with the people accepting the message and having their lives changed. In fact, news soon reached stalwarts of the church and Peter was sent to witness and add some support, so much that “there was great joy in that city”.
Right in the middle of the blossoming ministry that “the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert” (Acts 8:26).
Philip did not argue nor question the leading of the angel, he simply “arose and went”. It looked stupid, but he obeyed. It was a challenging journey, but he kept going until he started seeing the traffic of worshippers who were travelling back from Jerusalem going towards Gaza. He wondered if he was being led to start another outreach in the Southern part of Israel. But, he kept on walking and praying and trusting God that it would all be well.
Just as he walked past the way that led to Ashkelon and towards Gaza, he heard the still small voice inside him speak, “Go near, and join thyself to this chariot” (Acts 8:29). The chariot was moving faster than his slow pace, but he was up for it and ran close to keep up. Just then he heard Simeon Bachos reading Isaiah Chapter 53 aloud to himself, trying to comprehend what he was reading.
Philip spoke up, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30, CEV)
Simeon replied, “How can I understand unless someone helps me?” He then invited Philip to come up and sit beside him.
Not long afterwards, the Ethiopian Eunuch, reaped the rewards of a prepared and humble heart and his hungry soul was fed with manna from heaven. The man believed the Good News Philip shared with him and soon, they saw a pool of water, got down into the water and was baptized.
“And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” [Acts 8:39]
This story is a typical example of the act of the Wise Virgins from the Parable of the Ten Virgins Jesus taught His followers.
Simeon, the Ethiopian Eunuch, had learned the secret of the Wise Virgins, written thousands of years before by King Solomon, in Proverbs 22:4, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.”
This contrasts what we see with Stephen and the Jews who heard him speak about the Risen Christ.
“Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen… And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law; For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.” [Acts 6:9-14]
In the end, in their pride and foolishness, they made an enemy out of the man telling them the truth, but they were not interested. They had their own agendas. In fact, there was a zealous young man, Saul of Tarsus, egging them on to accuse Stephen of blasphemy and hence stoning him to death.
Fools! They did not know God but had heaped for themselves a belief system which they refused to change. This was the Good News God had been preparing them for since the time of Moses was now rejected. In fact, they rejected the message by killing the very Saviour who came for that very purpose. How sad!
Fools! Their temple must remain. If they have not reached the brick-and-mortar building to pray, they can’t be heard by God. If they don’t go to Jerusalem, they wouldn’t be in fellowship with Yahweh. They claim to have accepted Jesus 20 or 30 years ago, yet they have no clue as to what the Bible says about the Temple, which is the permanent dwelling place of God.
The more they tried to perform religious acts the more they noticed that sin was always hanging around their necks like a noose. They simply believe that their good will outweigh their bad and that maybe God would allow them into heaven. Sad. Fools!
A.W. Tozer wrote, ““Behold I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me’.” At the hidden centre of man’s being is the dwelling place of the Triune God. It is such a private, intimate place that no one can intrude but Christ, and even He will enter only through an invitation of faith. Once the Spirit enters the deep-in core of the believer’s heart and establishes residence there, man becomes a true child of God. But baptism, confirmation, receiving the sacraments, church membership, etc., mean nothing unless God has truly inhabited the soul.”
Who is The Fool?
It is not just the atheist, as defined by King David, who is a fool, but also some children of the Kingdom. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus warned, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” But, at least, twice in the Scriptures, we see God refer to certain people as fools.
Jesus spoke of the rich fool who planned his life ahead of time completely ignoring the existence of God. Just as the rich man finished his plans, Jesus revealed to us what happened next, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” [Luke 12:20]
On the Road to Emmaus, we see an account of two disciples, “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them” (Luke 24:15). He engaged them in their discussion, and His response revealed the heart of the Father.
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” [Luk 24:25-26]
Unfortunately, this is still the problem with MOST people who claim to be born again and carry Bible every Sunday to attend “service”. Spiritually asleep like a log of wood. They are ignorant and because of pride would refuse Philip, who had been prepared by the Holy Spirit to help them.
Beloved saint of the Highest, create time and spend it wisely, sitting at the beautiful Feet of the Holy Spirit to learn and discover the hidden riches of secret places. There is a possibility that some parts of that written word would look boring, no doubt about it, but if you persist and prayerfully question the Teacher, He will either teach you directly or bring a Philip along your way to explain it to you. There is no boring part in the Bible. Absolutely none.
Hear God speak about the foolish virgins, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.” [Hosea 4:6-7]
Dear brother and sister, you cannot use the old wineskin to bottle the new wine of God. Jesus says, “People don’t pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the wine will make the skins burst, and both the wine and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine is to be poured into fresh skins.” (Mark 2:22).
God is doing something new right now. If you don’t humble yourself and allow “Philip the Jew” to help you understand, you will be making a terrible choice, a fool of yourself, which will make you become a reject of God. He says you are rejecting KNOWLEDGE, the Hebrew root word used by Hosea in that sentence, da‛ath, meaning, skilful awareness.
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” [Revelation 3:17-18]
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” [Isaiah 55:1]
The opportunity to buy oil from “them that sell” is still open, but soon the door would be shut. “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.” [Matthew 25:10]
Image Credit: Saint Philip Baptising the Ethiopian Eunuch by Aelbert Cuyp in 1655 A.D. (Wikimedia Commons).
Very powerful. We all need a Phillip to help us in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes our lack of understanding the body and how God intended for it to function makes us despise those who can help us see clearly what God is saying. We need one another for growth!
Amen! Thanks so much for this piece. It really blessed me indeed and calls for us to humble ourselves instead covering ignorance with pride and arrogance.
That Ethiopian Eunuch would have returned home empty had her not humbled himself to learn. May God give us a humble and meek heart to learn from others in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Philip here is a typical example of a servant of God who knows that the ministry was never his own but of THE LORD, so he was willing to even leave the great work he has done in the city Samaria to Peter and went to a desert just for one soul.
Unfortunately many Philips we have today are even dragging the ministry with the OWNER (THE HOLY SPIRIT) believing that it is their own and the great work done was as a result of their wisdom or even knowledge.
But these great revelations that we received from God through brother John should teach or help us to be better servants of God even like brother Philip, and also to develop the heart of learning from God and those He has prepared as His ministers Just like the Ethiopian eunuch was so willing and he was greatly blessed.