The Gospel Travels to Africa
October 20 - Nº 293 Acts 8:26-40
After Peter and John went back to Jerusalem, God sent an angel to Philip. “Go to the desert road that leads south from Jerusalem to Gaza,” the angel instructed him. Philip obeyed. As he walked along the road, he met an official who oversaw the royal treasury that belonged to Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia. This official had been on a pilgrimage to worship in Jerusalem, and he was returning home in his chariot. The Holy Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay close to it.” So, Philip, who was traveling on foot, ran to catch up. As Philip approached, he could hear the official reading a prophecy that had been written by Isaiah several hundred years before the birth of Jesus. The passage from Isaiah 53:7-8 said: He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “No,” the official responded. “There is no way I can understand this unless someone explains it to me.” He invited Philip to climb up and ride with him in the chariot. Then he asked his new companion, “Do you know who the prophet is talking about? Is it himself or someone else?” Then, beginning with that passage of Scripture, Philip told the Ethiopian everything about Jesus. He explained that Jesus had lived a perfect life. He was unjustly hung on a cross and separated from God to free us from the consequences of our sins. But God raised him from the dead, and one day he would return to rule God’s kingdom on the earth. Anyone who believed that Jesus really was the Messiah—the one sent by God to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah and the other prophets—would receive eternal life. As they traveled, the royal official exclaimed, “Look, here is some water. Is there any reason I cannot be baptized right now?” He gave orders for the chariot to stop. He and Philip stepped out and went down into the water. When they came out of the water, the Holy Spirit suddenly took Philip away. The Ethiopian official did not see him again, but he continued his journey home filled with joy. The gospel message was finally making its way out of Jerusalem, past Judea, and Samaria, and into the farthest parts of the earth (see #286 - The Disciples' Commission and Jesus' Ascension). The Holy Spirit then took Philip to a place called Azotus (now known as Ashdod). From there he traveled up the whole coast of Israel, preaching the gospel in every town until he reached Caesarea.
The Ethiopian official did not understand much about the Bible, but he wanted to. God stepped in to help him by miraculously sending Philip. God goes to great lengths to get the Gospel message to anyone who wants to know it. But he always uses people as His messengers! Are you prepared to share the good news of Jesus?