Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #2

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

The events of Acts chapter 8 show us Israel’s prophetic program breaking down. With Stephen’s death by stoning in chapter 7, Israel falls: her national leadership has blasphemed the Holy Spirit for the last time, and that will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31,32; cf. Acts 7:51-60). The Bible narrative subsequently focuses on Philip’s ministry (chapter 8). Like Stephen, Philip was one of the seven Jerusalem elders the 12 Apostles appointed in Acts 6:1-6.

Leaving Jerusalem, Philip travels to Samaria (central Israel, between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea) to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (see Acts 8:1-13). The Samaritans are not full-blooded Jews—namely, they are half-Gentile (cf. John 4:9,12). Yet, unlike Jerusalem, they eagerly hear and believe God’s Word (Jesus is Christ). By entering these incidents into the record of Scripture, God rebukes Jerusalem for unbelief.

After preaching in Samaria, the angel of the Lord instructs Philip to travel to southern Israel to visit an African man, a Gentile (today’s Scripture). This eunuch (government official) is returning home to Ethiopia after worshipping in Jerusalem. Sitting in his chariot, he reads the Book of Isaiah (no doubt a copy from northern Africa).

“[29] Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. [30] And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? [31] And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” Philip did not shy away from that calling. He “ran thither”—he was excited!! Furthermore, the eunuch (unlike the Jews in Jerusalem) wants to learn and believe God’s Word….

Spurning God Thrice

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21 KJV).

The God of the Bible is a Trinity—three separate and distinct Persons all equally God. Behold, this was highly advantageous to the nation Israel!

THE FATHER REJECTED. John 1:6 says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mark 1:3). Father God sent John the Baptist to be the forerunner of His Son. He announced Messiah’s arrival to Israel, yet Israel permitted King Herod to behead John. Nevertheless, God extended mercy to evil Israel. Judgment did not fall.

THE SON REBUFFED. Jesus said in Matthew 12:32: “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him:….” “Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22,23). On Calvary’s cross, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). At His Son’s request, Father God was merciful to wicked Israel. Judgment did not fall.

THE SPIRIT REJECTED. Matthew 12:31,32: “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men…. whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” With the Holy Spirit coming in Acts chapter 2, Israel was given one final year of mercy. Israel must repent and trust Jesus Christ, for He is returning in wrath to punish their unbelief. Through the 12 Apostles, God the Holy Spirit pled with Israel until chapter 7. Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, preached before Israel’s leadership. They stoned him! As Jesus said, this would not be forgiven (cf. Hebrews 6:4-6).

Strangely, judgment did not fall, even here. God changed dispensations, delaying that wrath to fall beyond our day! That individual Jews and Gentiles be saved from Divine judgment, He began Paul’s ministry, the Dispensation of Grace!

Satisfied in Superstition #5

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22,23 KJV).

Why is there rampant spiritual ignorance today?

Romans chapter 1 describes the nations (Gentiles) whom the God of the Bible renounced at the Tower of Babel. They refused to think about Him and His Word so He gave them up and over to their desired empty, worthless, satanic views. However, this is also true concerning individuals. People convince themselves not to think properly about the Creator God and spiritual matters. They willfully (key word!) reject the information He has freely offered them.

God caused Israel to fall nationally in early Acts when she ignored the Holy Spirit’s testimony of Jesus Christ. With their deliberate stoning of His prophet Stephen in chapter 7, He set them aside (albeit temporarily). They thereafter became like all the Gentiles—enjoying Satan’s lie program, his dark and evil world system (2 Corinthians 4:4). God could have righteously destroyed them all in wrath, but instead He poured out grace and mercy in chapter 9 to Saul of Tarsus (the leader of Israel’s rebellion against God). “Even so have these [Israel] also now not believed, that through your [Gentiles’/nations’] mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:31,32).

Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul. The crucified, buried, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus Christ told him on the day of his salvation unto eternal life: “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:17,18). The Lord removed Saul from spiritual darkness, Satan’s “power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) so he could preach to others how they too could be delivered through Christ Jesus. Paul did that in today’s Scripture….

Fury Turned Away? #7

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

The Holy Spirit, in Acts chapter 7, pled with Israel’s unbelieving leaders one final time. After one year of post-Calvary ministry, they still refuse conversion: “[55] But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him….”

Why did they kill Stephen? How did he upset them? They knew their “Old Testament” Scriptures, the prophecies about Messiah standing at God’s right hand. Isaiah 3:13: “The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.” Psalm 68: “[1] Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. [2] As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. Finally, Psalm 110:1: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

Messiah would sit at the LORD’S right hand only until it would be time to rise/stand and return in wrath and judgment. (In an earlier study, we saw Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 in Acts 2:34-36, approximately a year prior to Acts chapter 7.) Convicted by the message of God’s wrath coming on them, Stephen’s audience mercilessly kills him. At the end of Peter’s life, 2 Peter chapter 3, scoffers are asking about that “looming” wrath of God that should have come some 30-plus years earlier. So, where did God’s wrath in Acts chapter 7 go? Peter provides an interesting explanation….

Fury Turned Away? #6

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

In Acts chapter 3, the Holy Spirit preached through the Apostle Peter: “[18] But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. [19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

“[22] For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. [23] And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (verse 23). The “destruction,” of course, is the consuming “baptism with fire” John the Baptist warned unbelieving Israel about in Matthew 3:7-12 years earlier. Acts 3:20 above forecasts this coming of Christ.

One full year after Calvary, the Prophet Stephen, standing before Israel’s wicked and unbelieving leaders, concludes his lengthy sermon. Acts 7 reports: “[55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Jesus Christ is standing in preparation to come back and judge the wicked Jews who still reject Him and contradict the Holy Spirit! God’s wrath is closer than ever, and Stephen’s guilty audience is outraged to hear of it….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the ‘these’ in the ‘more than these’ of John 21:15?

Rise Up, LORD! #6

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel (Numbers 10:35,36 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture mean?

In Acts chapter 7, a window into the third heaven was opened, and Stephen, standing on Earth, saw Jesus finally standing at His Father’s right hand. When Stephen told Israel what he saw, they recalled their Old Testament prophecies and were convicted. Remembering the closing warning of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost just a year earlier (Acts 2:33-40), these lost Jews knew God’s judgment against their persistent unbelief was coming.

Today, 2000 years later, strangely, we can declare that wrath never came. Not because God was bluffing, but because He interrupted that prophetic program and introduced our mystery program. God wanted to demonstrate His wisdom. While Israel was uncooperative with Him in reaching the lost and dying Gentiles, He would still reach them without Israel. He would save and use one of Stephen’s murderers, Saul of Tarsus, commissioning him as the Apostle Paul of the Gentiles. Jesus Christ did return, but not in wrath. He returned in grace, mercy, peace, and love to save Paul (1 Timothy 1:13-16). (But, that, friends is another marvelous story we must forgo here!)

Had Israel entered the Promised Land under Moses in faith, Jesus Christ would have come to reign over them (note Exodus 15:17,18). Alas, they did not and He did not. How Israel saw JEHOVAH God cleansing His land of pagans so they (His people) could enter in, they were getting a glimpse of JEHOVAH God coming to finish the job at Christ’s Second Coming. Except, at the Second Coming, not only will that wrath be directed toward lost Gentiles, but also toward lost Israel. Only redeemed Israel—her Little Flock—will go into the land. The descendants of Abraham who reject Jesus Christ, they are His enemies, and have nowhere to go but to God’s punishment against their sin, eternal hellfire.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Cornelius have to hear Peter’s preaching?

Rise Up, LORD! #5

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel (Numbers 10:35,36 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture mean?

Stephen, in Acts chapter 7, one year after Calvary and Pentecost, preached to Israel’s unbelieving leadership: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. [54] When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. [55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.”

Sadly, many preachers and commentators have poorly handled verses 55 and 56. Why was Jesus standing? Was it to receive Stephen into heaven? (Ridiculous!) The Bible says He was standing to pour out His wrath on unbelieving Israel! Lost Jews knew it, and they, convicted, picked up stones and killed Stephen. The Holy Ghost now rejected, now blasphemed against, Israel has nowhere else to go (Matthew 12:31,32). Jesus Christ was moments away from returning to Earth in Acts chapter 7. He was not only coming to destroy His Gentile enemies in His Promised Land (cf. today’s Scripture), but His Jewish enemies, too (Acts 3:19-23)!

For more information, you can see our study, “Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?