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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Acts 8:26-40 – Precise Providence

It is interesting to observe Philip’s response to the divine instruction to go near the chariot. Luke informs us that Philip ran, which indicates that he told Luke this detail when he was in Caesarea twenty or so years later.

Think of what would have been different if Philip had ambled over to the chariot. When he reached the chariot, he discovered that the traveller was reading Isaiah 53; if he had taken longer to get there, the eunuch would have been in Isaiah 54 and perhaps a different conversation would have followed. There is a hint here that work for the Lord should be done promptly.

This incident is a marvellous example of divine timing. Philip and the eunuch began their journeys without having any watches to synchronise, yet they arrived at the divinely-chosen meeting point at the precise moment when the eunuch would be reading about the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

Evidently he was reading the passage aloud, perhaps because he was concentrating on it or maybe he was reading the words to others who were with him (such are not mentioned, but it is not likely that such an important person was travelling alone).

There is an interesting lesson here to note. Often it is said that it is sufficient for a person to have the Bible and if we give a copy to a person he or she will automatically understand it. Sometimes a person does come to faith in Christ by reading the Bible for himself. Yet generally they do not. In addition to having a Bible they need a competent person to be able to explain its message. And we should be alert to the necessity of doing so.

For all we know, the eunuch may have been praying to God that he would send a person to instruct him about the Bible. The royal official had been in Jerusalem to worship and perhaps he had asked individuals there concerning the meaning of the passage. None had been able to help him, and maybe the Lord had protected him from getting wrong interpretation as he mingled among those who had denied that Jesus was the Messiah.

The religious rituals in which the eunuch had participated had not helped him discover who the Saviour was. Although they had been initiated by God in the past, he was no longer in them in the present. Providentially, Jesus in heaven had prevented the eunuch from being influenced wrongly about spiritual life in the gospel age. Although he was now in a physical desert, he had been taken away from the spiritual desert of Judaism in order to discover the living water that his heart needed.

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