And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.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.And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? (Acts 8:30-34)
Philip had been told by an Angel to “join a chariot” on the desert road . This meant that he ran alongside the chariot of the high Ethiopian official, as the man was reading his recently purchased scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
The Ethiopian just happened to have come to the fourth Servant song in Isaiah, chapter 52:13-53:12
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
…But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
…He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth…
“Do you understand what you are reading”? ,asked Philip.
“How can I unless someone teaches me?”, answered the Ethiopian, who then invited Philip to come up into the chariot to teach Him.
Philip preached the crucified Christ, from the text of Isaiah, who lived 700 years before Jesus came, yet described in detail the cross and it’s meaning. We can learn something from this story as to how to witness to those God puts in our path.
*Philip preached from Prophecy – An amazing sign of the veracity of the Bible is the fact that Jesus came in fulfillment of the prophets of scripture. God himself points to prophecy as being among His credentials ,
…I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:(Isaiah 46:9-10)
* Philip preached Christ crucified in the light of scripture- He proclaimed that Jesus was the man spoken of by Isaiah, the vicarious sufferer, despised and rejected by men, bearing the transgression of us all, unto God’s judgment.
* Philip preached the fall of man and the guilt of sin – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.(vs 6)
One couldn’t expound on this theme without the mention of the fact that man is lost, gone astray, guilty of sin, transgression and iniquity, liable to wrath, estranged from God.
* He preached Jesus as the substitute for us in Divine judgment – As the chapter makes clear, It was the Lord Himself who laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, the chastisement that bought us peace (with God) fell upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
* He proclaimed the vindication and glory of Jesus – Philip proclaimed from Isaiah the glorious outcome of the mysterious suffering servant,
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.(Is 52:12)
…when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.(Isaiah 53:10-11)
By this Divine report, the Ethiopian was brought into repentance and saving faith, peace with God, forgiveness of sins, and the “gift of righteousness” with God! Making a simple confession of faith in Jesus, he received the gift of eternal life.
We know he believed , because He requested baptism, to which Phillip only required sincere belief,
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.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 8:37-39)
How does this chapter of the Bible end? The way the whole story will end, with a Rapture.It is like a microcosm of the future of the whole church history.
It begins with a persecution and scattering of the newly founded church, it proceeds onto the mission field, where “signs wonders and gifts of the spirit” confirm the preaching of the gospel.
Yet the word of the Lord is resisted by false wonder workers, false converts,”great men” who seduce and transfix the people, and who seek to make merchandise of God’s people, such as Simon Magnus. But always the truth of God prevails.
Spirit led conversions will occur which affect whole people groups, there has been an African church ever since the Ethiopian received the Word of the Lord.
Finally it all ends the way we expect it to end, Philip went up in a rapture!