Fancy ceiling. Texas State Capitol.
Sunday, 3 July 2022
was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Acts 8:28
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
The previous verse introduced the Ethiopian eunuch who had come to Jerusalem to worship. Now it says he “was returning.” Like the Queen of Sheba who came to visit Solomon (1 Kings 10), she eventually returned to her own country. So, it is now with this unnamed eunuch. He was on his way back on the desert road leading to Gaza. Luke next records, “And sitting in his chariot.”
The word harma, or chariot, is introduced here. It will be seen three times in this account in Acts, and then one more time in Revelation 9:9. It signifies a vehicle of some sort. It is unknown exactly what type of carriage he was in. It is a conveyance that could have been on wheels, or it could have been borne by men on poles, as in a palanquin.
In this case, it is most probably not a palanquin. This will be seen in a few verses. Rather, it is probably a carriage suitable for carrying several people. Regardless of the type, it was slow enough for Philip to join beside it. Next, while sitting there in his chariot, it says of the eunuch that “he was reading Isaiah the prophet.”
The common way to read was out loud, and this is what would have made the coming events possible. What is most probable is that he was reading the Greek translation of Isaiah, the LXX, or Septuagint. Greek was the lingua franca at the time and would surely have been known to someone in the courts of Candace.
And more, it is probable that in having read the Septuagint in the past, it is what brought him to want to worship in Jerusalem in the first place. Not because he was a proselyte, but because he wanted to worship the God proclaimed in their Scriptures. With this now noted, the narrative will continue to unfold in the coming verses.
Life application: The man in the chariot was a trusted member of the court of Candace. He was an approved traveler to go to worship in Jerusalem. He is noted now in the Bible as playing a key and pivotal role in fulfilling a particular pattern that is noted in the early Genesis narrative, and yet there is no record of his name.
As such, it tells us that it is not his name that is important, but who he stems from – something carefully recorded by Luke, and which must have been told to him by Philip. He is from Ethiopia. As such, he descends from the line of Ham and then through his son Cush. Ham is the son that did something perverted to his father, and because of what he did, Noah placed a curse on Ham’s son Canaan.
Along with the curse resting on Canaan, the entire line of Ham is the least favored line of the three sons of Noah because of what he did to his father. And yet, we are seeing an account of an Ethiopian becoming the center of the biblical narrative. But more, Moses was said to have married an Ethiopian (Numbers 12:1), and an Ethiopian eunuch was given a great note of grace from the Lord in Jeremiah 38.
God can work through any supposed limitation we possess. He did it with the Canaanite Rahab the harlot (two strikes against her), he did it through a sketchy intermarriage between Solomon and a woman of Ammon, bringing those who issue from her into the kingly line, and so on.
The point is, that whatever limitation you think might be resting upon you, God can still use you for His purposes and His glory. Don’t feel that because the whole world doesn’t know your name that you are somehow unimportant. God does. And with that, and if you are in Christ, you are a most important part of what He is doing in the world. Be confident of this.
Lord God, thank You that our names are known to You, and that we each have a part to offer in Your eternal home where the righteous will dwell. Thank You that because of Jesus this is possible. Yes, thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.