God had sent Philip away from his popular and effective mission in Samaria, to a desert road (Acts 8:26). The Lord gave no further instruction until Philip saw a chariot with a high ranking official sitting down and reading a scroll. "Go up to the chariot and keep pace with it", the Lord said. As Philip approached he heard the man, the chief finance minister for Kush (where Sudan is now but then called Ethiopia), reading aloud in Hebrew from Isaiah chapter 53.
Philip, jogging along beside the chariot, simply asked if the man understood the passage. But he did not because there was nobody to explain it. Clearly the passage had made a great impression on the official, who was touched with the unjust suffering. So he invited Philip to join him in the chariot and asked who Isaiah was talking about. It was a great question because it led Philip directly to Jesus, whose trial and crucifixion was dramatically described in Isaiah 53:7-8, although written about 700 years previously.
Philip started where the Ethiopian eunuch had stopped. He unpacked the verses, comparing them with Jesus' recent unjust trial and punishment in Jerusalem. Philip explained why such bad news for Jesus was actually good news for everybody who would put their trust in Him. Every believer became a child of God and had free access to Father God. That was very good news indeed for a eunuch, who was barred from corporate worship under the Jewish law (Deuteronomy 23:1).
It was apparently a 'chance encounter' but the Lord knew the precision timing of moving Philip from Samaria to intercept a chariot which Philip did not know existed, and a man who was ready to believe in Jesus. Under the Old Covenant this man could have no peace with God; but under the New Covenant in Christ's blood he could come right into God’s presence (Ephesians 2:14-18). That is still the Good News we have to share. If we are willing to be moved and used, the Lord will use our explanations of Jesus to satisfy spiritually hungry hearts with gospel hope. So, today, do not let your own plans get in the way of the Lord using you in His gospel plans, especially when you least expect it.
© Dr Paul Adams