WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH
(Called to break down barriers)
In Isaiah 56, verses 3-5, GOD promises, through the prophet Isaiah, to pour out HIS blessings on the eunuchs of the world, who dedicate themselves to serving HIM and keeping HIS commandments. There the LORD says that HE will reward them with a special place in HIS house, and that it would be a memorial far greater than the honor they would have received by having sons and daughters, and, it would last forever.
In Acts chapter 8, verses 26-40, we begin to see the first signs of GOD’s fulfillment of that promise. This chapter of the book of Acts depicts a very significant phase in the history of the development of the early Church, as it begins to show signs of an initial shedding of its “strictly Jewish membership status”. Jewish men and women in the newly formed Christian Church were now being called to break down racial, economic, and social barriers that have the potential to block a significant portion of mankind from GOD.
Here in this passage, we see the Church being compelled by GOD to scatter and flee Jerusalem, as a result of the Christian persecutions sanctioned by the Emperor Nero that, followed the tragic death of Stephen. The “Adherents of the Way” of CHRIST were now unwittingly taking one of the most important steps in the history of the early Church, and, at one and the same time, were discovering that the ideology of Christianity was meant by GOD to permeate the whole world. And when they were forced to leave Jerusalem, they also were forced to spread the Good News of CHRIST JESUS as they traveled from place to place in the Samaritan and Gentile worlds.
After preaching and teaching in Samaria, an angel of the LORD came to Philip and instructed him to go south down the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. As he traveled on his way he met a eunuch who was also the treasurer of Ethiopia. He was a man of great authority under the queen (Candace) of Ethiopia and he was returning from worshiping the LORD in Jerusalem.
Candace is the name given to the queens that ruled Ethiopia’s governmental affairs, as the king, or “Royal Son” was thought to be above those kinds of duties. Eunuchs were used in trusted positions in royal courts, especially those positions that involved working around the king’s wives and harems.
This particular eunuch was apparently a student of the Word of the GOD of Israel (the Holy Scriptures), and had converted over to Judaism. He was what was known as a “GOD-fearer” in those days, a person who was non-Jewish, who had converted to Judaism, but did not accept the ritual of circumcision, since he was, after all, a “eunuch”. A eunuch, as we know, is a person who has been castrated, or sexually mutilated, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
However, whatever his circumstances were, he appeared to be a man who was seeking to know GOD better, and GOD promises that, whoever is willing to seek HIM through HIS Word, will indeed, find HIM. And so we see this royal eunuch riding in his carriage reading aloud, perhaps from the Septuagint (the first Greek translation of the Old Testament), and contemplating the writings of the prophet, Isaiah, when suddenly the HOLY SPIRIT instructed Philip to go over to him and walk along beside his carriage.
Philip can now hear what the man was reading and asks him if he understood. The man replied, “How can I, when there is no one to instruct me?” he then invited Philip up into his carriage to sit with him and explain the Scriptures to him. The passage he was reading was that of Isaiah 53:7-8 which states;
“HE was led as a sheep to slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, HE did not open HIS mouth. HE was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of HIS descendants? For HIS life was taken from the earth.” (NLT)
The eunuch asked Philip if Isaiah was talking about himself or someone else, and Philip began with this same Scripture and then used many others to tell man the Good News about JESUS and the gift of Salvation to all mankind who believed. As they rode along, Philip was able to lead the man to CHRIST, and when they came to some water, the man requested that Philip Baptist him, and he did.
It is a life-changing thing, getting to know, and becoming accustomed to practicing the Word of GOD. GOD’s Word has already come, and in fact, has been with us since the beginning. The Word of GOD simply cannot be, nor will not be disregarded. The Word of GOD is synonymous with life, and therefore, the Word of GOD is effective, and penetrating. It absolutely scrutinizes all of our thoughts, desires, and intentions.
All things lay naked before GOD, because HE absolutely sees all, hears all, and knows all that we do. And every one of us will have to make an account for the deeds done in our own bodies, in our own lifetimes. And so, whether, or not, we believe that HE exist, therefore, becomes totally irrelevant.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website