26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.
27And he rose and went. 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
28and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”
30So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth.
33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”
34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”
35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.
40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
My friend was in trouble. I didn’t know that but God did. All I knew was that I needed to get over to her house as soon as I possibly could make it. It felt like my car might leave without me so urgent was the need to get to her. When I finally got to her house I discovered there was a medical emergency that was developing. She was alone and needed help. She didn’t call or indicate to me that she was in trouble. But God laid the need to be with her on my heart and mind and I could do nothing but get to her side. This was a divine appointment. They happen all the time; these moments when we are placed into someone’s presence for God’s purposes. Quite often we don’t recognize that it is God’s planning and direction that we are following but we answer His call nonetheless. That is what happens to Phillip in our reading for today. He answers God’s call to go and because of that a nation is blessed.
Phillip receives instruction from the Lord to head south of Jerusalem into the desert. Obediently Phillip heads in that direction and comes upon an “Ethiopian eunuch” who is headed home after spending some time in Jerusalem worshiping God. Apparently he is a convert to Judaism. This is unusual in and of itself as emasculated men are not allowed into the temple according to Jewish law. But for whatever reason this Ethiopian has become a believer in the God of the Jews or at least someone interested in learning more about Him. This traveler is also highly placed public official in the court of Candace, the leader of the nation. “Candace” is similar in usage to that of Pharaoh or Caesar. It means “queen” so it wasn’t her name but her title. Generally it was the queen mother of the male leader of the people. She carried the power in that particular government as the royal males were considered above such mundane things as leadership.
Phillip comes across this guy, running up to him on the road. Here I find a small miracle. Chances are Phillip is experiencing a bit of supernatural power as he is able to run up next to a guy in a chariot. This means he is able to run faster than a horse can trot (or perhaps even run). Not bad. He hears the eunuch reading from the book of Isaiah and strikes up a conversation with the eunuch. After sharing the Gospel with the man, God brings faith in the saving work of Jesus and a new convert to Christianity is born. The man is baptized and heads home. We can surmise that the eunuch shares what he has learned as Ethiopia becomes a Christian nation and holds that reputation for almost 1,000 years. After his divine appointment with the eunuch, Phillip is swept away by God and placed into the city of Azotus. This is 50 miles north of where he had been speaking with the Ethiopian! I would have talked about that event for the rest of my life had I been Phillip.
God uses us daily to share the Gospel, reach out in care, and further His Kingdom. He is under no obligation to share His plans with us but we are to remain obedient to His voice calling us to work. It can be as amazing as meeting someone who is asking questions about the faith or as simple as being kind to the check-out person as the grocery store. Divine appointments are there and waiting for us every single day. I guess the question is are we available to keep them?