I’m going to be upfront about this post. It was inspired by one of my pastors. I might stealing part of the background from him. His sermon had a different point and his was much more spiritual and uplifting. I don’t feel too bad about this and As Steve Jobs said, “Good artists copy. Great ones steal.”
Poof. An angel of the Lord popped out of nowhere and startled Philip. The man looked around to see if anyone else had noticed it. Apparently, he was on his own. The spiritual being looked Philip right in the eyes and said, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (Acts 8:26)
And the man went. Because an angel showed up and pulled the “God said so” card. I guess I’d obey too. He marched right out into the desert to a highway that saw just a handful of travelers each day. The place was mostly dust, wind and plenty of sun. Its inhabitants were lizards and dry, desert plants. It’s likely that a couple of other carriages or even men on horseback had passed by the evangelist. He didn’t feel particularly compelled to speak to any of them, so he waited, sweated and likely wished he’d brought lunch and more water. He wondered if the angel who’d sent him out to this moisture-forsaken place would show up any time soon.
Finally, in the heat of the day, Philip saw another carriage in the distance.Wait- maybe it was just the heat playing a trick on his eyes. No, it truly was a carriage. And it was nice. And it wasn’t moving very fast at all. Just as he’d done with the others, Phillip waited. He needed to be told why he was out here. Also, moving made him sweat more and he was already gross.
The low rumble of wheels and hoofs on rock and dirt grew as the travelers approached. Philip sat, waiting to hear something. Desiring to get on with whatever plan The Almighty had conjured. It wasn’t until the carriage was slowly passing the man that the Spirit told him, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” (Acts 8:29) Because that’s not creepy anywhere, especially out in the middle of nowhere.
Apparently, the eunuch wasn’t displeased with the man who could have been a highway robber, because as we all know, the story ends with him inviting the evangelist into his carriage, hearing about Jesus and getting baptized. Then, as if the story wasn’t good enough, God plucked Philip up out of the desert and dropped him in a town called Azotus.
And that boys and girls, is what your life is like when you obey God.
What? You haven’t been transported anywhere?
You probably have sin in your life.
Obedience actually isn’t my point. My concern about this story is that first, an angel spoke to Philip, telling him to go out into the heat where he might die. Then, the spirit spoke to the man. My question is, when does The Almighty choose one avenue for communication instead of another? I have speculated on this…
1- Philip was preaching and judging sorcerers in Samaria. He was busy. And busy people can’t listen well. So, God sent an angel to talk to the man. Once he was out in the desert, where he was clearly less distracted, Philip would be able to hear the Lord better.
2- God was serious. This eunuch was a really super important part of God’s plan for Ethiopia, so he needed a face-to-face conversation with Philip. Oh, but God’s face kills people. Better send the angel. Once Philip was out there, the tough part was over and the Spirit could take care of it.
3- We talk ourselves out of scary things. Philip likely wouldn’t want to go out to the desert, because that’s crazy. So, instead of talking to the evangelist via divine telepathy, which he might be able to reason his way out of, God sent one of His winged minions. Because we can’t convince ourselves that an experience like that was because we were bored with life or hungry.
I’m not convinced any of those is great. I’m super busy, but God never sends an angel to catch my attention. But His face would kill me. I guess I do hear Him better when I’m intentional about it, but The Almighty kind of just busts in whenever He wants, whether or not an angel knocks on the door first.