Faithlife Sermons

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Philip  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Deacon Philip – he was “moveable” – net set in his ways – the H.S. can use a guy like that.
Luke writes that he and Paul visited Philip. Maybe that is where he heard first hand about how Philip went to Samaria and about Simon the Wizard and about how God brought him to witness to an African official – as we will see today. “On the next day (Luke writes) we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.”
He was one of the Seven first Deacons. He was known as an evangelist. He shared the message of Jesus all the time. And he had four daughters who were prophetesses – meaning he had raised a Christian family and his daughters shared his faith!
This is a good man! People came to Christ wherever Philip went because he and his family were people that said YES to God. Philip was easily moved. When the Holy Spirit moved – Philip moved. Philip put Jesus first in his life and the result? Salvations
In America we have had several great movements of the H.S. as well. Recently we lost Pastor Billy Graham who lead a great revival here and across the globe. TWO events in particular:
First Great Awakening – a few decades before we gained our Independence from England, was a huge revival that swept England and the 13 Colonies and called people to have a change of heart, not just believe theology in their heads. There was a strong passion among ordinary Christians, and great evangelists like John Wesley, Johnathan Edwards, and George Whitfield, to spread the Gospel and many Africans living as slaves or as free men in the Colonies became Christians at this time. In Europe the great revivalist leader was Count Zinzendorf und Pottendorf. Because of this revival, Dartmouth college was founded to train Indians to share the Gospel with other Indians and Princeton was founded to train revivalist pastors! People easily moved by God.
Second Great Awakening – Came next in the early to mid 1800’s lead by men like Charles Finney – as well as African American preachers and many prominent women. Church attendance ballooned in the US as revival swept the country and women in particular were becoming very intense and passionate about their faith in Christ. Again – people eager to be moved by God!
Many people don’t know that in the US and Britain, opposition to slavery, in the 1800’s came mostly from Bible believing Christians. But imagine – what if the South had said Yes to God the way Philip and his family did. Moveable. What if, instead of the Bloody Civil War to cleanse the national conscience over the terrible scar of slavery - what if revival has swept through the South – traveling preachers and common Christians had traveled up and down Dixie spreading the word of God, and what if the South had received the message, first with tears of repentance, and then with tears of joy as White and Black Christians embraced one another in brotherly love. It COULD have happened that way – and to this day the name of Jesus would be glorified by this testimony of His power.
It could have been this way – but it wasn’t. Because not many people were Moveable. Something beautiful COULD HAVE happened if people had taken their faith in Christ more seriously, but it didn’t, because they didn’t.
What powerful, and beautiful things could happen if we started taking Christ more seriously? If our hearts were Moveable? (talk)
Now – for one of the coolest and most bizarre stories in history!
READ – A man not set in his ways – moveable
OK – a little bit of background.
Beth Israel – House of Israel and Beth Christianity – the House of Christianity. – No one knows for sure – one oral tradition says that part of the tribe of Dan went down to Africa during the Exodus – and this is not far fetched because tells us that Moses had an Ethiopian wife (the historian Josephus tells us that she was the daughter of the King of Ethiopia). That may be why the Queen of Sheba went to see King Solomon so many years later. A different version of the story goes that when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem some Jews fled to Egypt and then to the land of Ethiopia – others fleed to Yemen in Arabia and the later some of them joined the first group already in Ethiopia. Another tradition is that the Queen of Sheba was the one who converted her nation to Judaism. Another legend is that she was impregnated by Solomon and it was here son that lead the nation to follow the God of Israel.
Whatever the case, there have been Black Jews in Africa for as long as history records. That’s why it was so natural for the Ethiopian official to go to Jerusalem to worship at the temple and why he was reading a copy of the Book of Isaiah the prophet.
Shortly after this time 3 or 4 major Black Jewish and Christian Kingdoms arise in East Africa and some of them survive over a1,000 years – despite being cut off from the rest of Christendom by Muslim armies for much of that time. They had powerful economies and armies and were renowned for their metal work and stone buildings and towers. The Kingdom of Aksum was the strongest of these and by 300 AD a Persian writer listen the four major powers of the world as Persia, Rome, China, and Ethiopia (or Axum). By 324 AD Ethiopia became the second nation, after Armenia, to officially accept Christianity.
And the odd history of the Black Jews continued on into modern times. In the 1980’s I first learned of Black Jews when Israel mounted major missions to r escue them from a hostile government in Ethiopia. The first two were called Operation Moses (let my people go!) and then Operation Joshua (successor of Moses) and then in the 1990’s they brought more of them to Israel with Operation Solomon – over 14,000 people were flown out in a 36 hour window. Each of these major operations were carried out by Israel with the support of the United States.
foretold that God would bring His people back to Israel and one of the nations that He says He will gather His people from is Ethiopia.
Actually many Bible verses speak of Ethiopia.
“Envoys will come out of Egypt; Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.”
And I wonder what he thought when he read God’s prophesy that he would subdue Ethiopia in “Alas, oh land of whirring wings Which lies beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, Which sends envoys by the sea, Even in papyrus vessels on the surface of the waters. Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth skinned, To a people feared far and wide, A powerful and oppressive nation Whose land the rivers divide. All you inhabitants of the world and dwellers on earth, As soon as a standard is raised on the mountains, you will see it, And as soon as the trumpet is blown, you will hear it. (Then skip a few verses) At that time a gift of homage will be brought to the Lord of hosts From a people tall and smooth skinned, Even from a people feared far and wide, A powerful and oppressive nation, Whose land the rivers divide— To the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, even Mount Zion. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth, Sing praises to the Lord”
If the official had been reading through the entire book of Isaiah he would have read that passage, and in a sense, he could see himself as part of the fulfilment of the prophecy.
Now the Eunuch could worship God but was limited to what degree he could participate in temple worship. Leviticus and Deuteronomy prohibit a Eunuch – along with blind, deaf, Moabites, short people, among others, from offering a sacrifice for himself and from full participation in the congregation.
But even in the OT there were exceptions. The prophet Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were all almost definitely, made into eunuchs – and yet they are portrayed with honor in the Bible. And King David’s Great Grandmother (and thus an ancestor of Christ was a Moabite woman named Ruth!
And then there is this great prophecy in (READ)
How do you think this Ethiopian Eunuch felt after reading THAT passage?
The passage he was reading when Philip came up was . We’re gonna take time to read the whole chapter – and as I read I want you to ask yourself – who do you think this is talking about?
READ
Obviously, Jesus right?
It was written around 750 years before Christ – 200 to 250 years before Siddhartha Gautama founded Buddhism. The US is only 241 years old. This passage was written a LONG time before Christ!
One last point – The Ethiopian official asked the question, “Here is water. What can prevent me from being baptized?”
If you haven’t been baptized as an adult believer – ask yourself – what is preventing you? Is your heart moveable?
Baptism is a pattern set down by Christ Himself – He paved the way for us, and believers being baptized has been the pattern of Christians ever since.
It’s not good luck, its not JUST a cool ritual, its not something you do to make other people happy. It’s about being moveable.
If you would like to be baptized this Sunmer let me know. We can talk about it and then get it done.
Jesus bought us with His own blood – dying on the cross to pay for our sins. We love Him. And we’re thankful. Lets give Him some victories in our lives.
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