Gaza And Ethiopia
Today Gaza is a 25 mile stretch on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean that reaches inland from 3.7 to 7.5 miles. It’s part of the Palestinian controlled area with 1.85 million people jammed into a 141 square mile area. It’s the third most densely populated area on earth. For the last seven years militant Hamas is in charge and the conflict with Israel burns.
In the first century Gaza was the desolate bridge between Israel and Egypt. And in a foreshadowing of the fulfillment of Jesus’ command to take his Good News to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8), an angel ordered Philip away from a successful evangelistic campaign in Samaria to meet a castrated black man from Ethiopia, the edge of the known world, an official who controlled the purse strings of Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia.
“Now the Lord’s angel spoke to Philip, ‘Get up, proceed south on the way that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza. It’s desert. So he got up and went. And look, there was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia. He was over all her treasury and had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was now on his return journey, sitting in his chariot, reading aloud the Prophet Isaiah.
Now the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Approach and join up with this chariot.’ Philip ran up alongside the chariot and heard the Ethiopian reading the Prophet Isaiah and said to him, ‘Do you understand what you’re reading?’ ‘How can I understand unless someone guide me?’ So he invited Philip up into the chariot to sit with him.” Acts 8:26-31
Under the Old Mosaic Covenant, Deuteronomy 23:1 disqualified eunuchs from worshiping in the Lord’s assembly, but the Jewish prophet Isaiah predicted a time when they would be welcomed (Isaiah 56:3-5). Jesus’ death and resurrection initiated this time and paved the way for all outcasts, including this royal Ethiopian official, to become part of God’s family.
Isaiah 53 is tough to understand, and in tomorrow’s Devo we’ll see how Philip led the eunuch from this passage to Jesus.
LORD, the present growing population in Gaza needs the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ that Philip brought to the Ethiopian. Give Your children living there boldness and protect them. The continuing war makes it tough for believers in Jesus to worship publically. Protect them as they meet in homes and use their phones to stay in touch with one another.
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