Acts 8:28 – Reading the Prophet Isaiah

When someone is faithful to the Lord, He can do astounding things through that willingness to obey. Philip was such a man, who was mighty in his deeds because of his purposeful dedication to Christ. One such incident that happened because of his love for God is often recounted, and it gives us a valuable lesson.

Attuned to the voice of God as he was , Philip heard (or saw) His speaking to him and giving him instructions. The text in Acts 8:26 tells us that an angel of the Lord directed Philip what to do. Was this a visible manifestation or only an audible one? In the Old Testament, the angel of the Lord was the pre-incarnate Jesus. Was this a post-resurrection appearance of Him or another representative of the heavenly realm?

Regardless, Philip went where directed and encountered a chariot with an Ethiopian eunuch, who was a Jewish proselyte. A proselyte is someone who has converted to a religion from some other belief. This Ethiopian, although castrated and impotent in the natural, was someone whom God wished to use for the furtherance of His kingdom because he was a high-ranking dignitary.

We’re told the following in Acts 8:27-28:

… And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.

When Philip sees the man coming down the dusty road in his chariot, the Spirit of the Lord tells him what to do next.  This time it’s the Spirit as opposed to an angel of the Lord.  That could signify the first encounter was visible while this one was only audible.  Philip obeys.

Approaching the chariot, Philip hears the eunuch reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah out loud.  It prompts him to ask if the eunuch understood what he read.  Why would he ask that?  For whatever reason Philip didn’t just assume that the eunuch knew what the text was really saying.  Perhaps he had previous experience encountering people who read the Word of God by rote, meaning they essentially mouthed the words without comprehension.  Isn’t that the case today with the minimal Bible reading that people do?  They read a daily devotional verse and think they’ve spent time in God’s presence such that they understand His Word.  But they don’t, because they haven’t studied the context or spent deeper time with God to know Him more fully.

The eunuch admits that he has no idea what Isaiah is saying.  Philip asked the right question, and it opened the door.  Because he’d been directed by God to go to the man, Philip was the right person in the right place to instruct him.

It turns out that the passage the eunuch was reading at that very moment was Isaiah 53:7-8.  These verses just happen to speak of Jesus as the suffering servant.  What a coincidence!  How convenient!  Philip was just the man to interpret who the prophet was writing about and what it meant.  From Philip’s evangelizing instruction, the eunuch was convicted of his need to place his faith and trust in Jesus.  This he did and immediately desired to be baptized so as to demonstrate his faith outwardly.

In an amazing scene, once Philip baptizes the eunuch, the Spirit of the Lord whisks him away to another place to continue His work elsewhere.  The eunuch goes on his way, now a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Very likely, he brings the Gospel to Ethiopia, which causes many in that land to become Christians.  What an astounding work of God!

One of the key points in this narrative revolves around the text the eunuch was reading.  It was the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament, which of course, was the only Biblical text available at the time.  By reading this passage about Jesus, the eunuch believed about Him and went on to productive work in the Kingdom.

I stress this because of what we see today in many circles.  There are pastors and teachers who say we don’t need the Old Testament, that we should “unhitch” from it.  Many of these people think instruction in Scripture should come only from the red letters in the New Testament, i.e. only from the Words that Jesus speaks.  Everything else can be ignored.

This is not unusual in today’s apostate church, where pastors have fallen away from the truth of God.  How completely ignorant this approach is!  What was it that Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

Last time I looked, all means all.  This would include the OT and all the various passages not highlighted in red, such as those written by Paul, John, and Peter.

If you are in a church where this aberrant thinking directs the pastor and the services he leads, you are being led astray.  These days are not ones in which a person should think that this is okay.  False doctrine and false teachers are almost the norm as we approach the end of this Age of Grace.  To stay in a church that doesn’t preach the whole Word of God is to place yourself in extreme danger.  Get out!  Don’t think for a minute you’ll be the change agent who makes this church return to true Biblical teaching.  Scripture tells us that there will only be a remnant of believers in the last days as raging apostasy consumes the church.

Attune your ears to what the Spirit is saying.  Be like Philip: listen and obey.

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