26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south[b] down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. Acts 8:26-31
I love this story. I pray that my life will be as finely tuned as that.
Here we have a preacher who instead of being led to the city was led to go on a road away from town. I get this picture of a man walking (Phillip) and a man riding (The Ethiopian Official). So the Spirit tells Phillip “go walk beside the chariot”. Phillip must have been in shape enough to do it. I think my tendency would have been to go over and ask for a ride but the bible tells us that Phillip ran over there.
The story concludes with the Ethiopian coming to faith in Christ. I think the obedience that Phillip had in following the leadership of the Holy Spirit was crucial. The Spirit provided the opportunity for the gospel to be explained to this man in a way in which he could understand and ultimately accept.
There are two important points to this passage (I am sure there are more).
1. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading
2. Being obedient to the Holy Spirit once he leads
Phillip did both and we can learn from this.
- How does this affect us as we live our lives missionally everyday?
- How does this apply to a church in how it lives out the Great Commission?
- How can this apply to mission organizations or church planting teams who sometimes have long-term strategy plans?