Updated: Jul 1, 2021
The Road to the South: The Eunuch who Needed Guidance
The final blog in this series features a Bible story which occurred on the Road to the South from Jerusalem. This was the Road to Gaza. Luke narrates this divine encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. The eunuch’s need for guidance is a common need among humans. Muslims also need that guidance to enter the Kingdom of God. Perhaps God will use us in this process, as He used Philip 2,000 years ago.
Since we will consider several important details from Acts 8, I will present a significant portion of it. Philip had just completed a successful ministry in Samaria and was heading back to Jerusalem.
But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Get ready and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) So he got ready and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8: 26-31)
Ministry to Muslims May Seem like a Desert Road
The Road to Gaza was a desert road. Ministry to Muslims may include difficulties such that this journey may seem like a journey through an arid wasteland. Sometimes we meet Muslims who only want to testify to us about Islam. They may not want to listen to another point of view. It appears they are going away from God’s presence.
The key turning point in our story was Philip being led by the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of this passage, the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, and Philip had an ear to hear. And after baptizing the eunuch, the Bible tells us that “the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away” (Acts 8:39). Throughout this encounter, Philip was led by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will likewise lead us in our ministry to Muslims.
The Holy Spirit also orchestrated that when Philip met him, the Ethiopian eunuch was reading Isaiah 53. This is perhaps the passage in the Old Testament that speaks most clearly of Christ. Nevertheless, the eunuch still needed guidance. He was a smart man, serving as national treasurer to Queen Candace. Philip was able to help him interpret the passage and find salvation in Christ.
Unfortunately, everyday Muslims are not reading Isaiah 53. Some read the Qur’an, but there is a clear difference between the Bible and the Islamic Scriptures. The Qur’an is not a Christo-centric book, but rather diminishes the Lord Jesus to a mere prophet.
Nevertheless, Muslims seek guidance. As a young Muslim boy, I learned by heart Sura Fatiha from the Qur’an, which is required for daily prayers. Part of the prayer says, Ihdanas Sirat-al-Mustaqeem, meaning, “Guide us into the straight Path.” Like many Muslims, I found that Muhammad could only ask for guidance to the straight way. By contrast, the Lord Jesus said, “I am the Way…” (John 14:6). That indeed was the road to the south in my life—the road to faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit also provided for me divine encounters with local Christians and a local church. And today, the Bible and online resources are much more available to Muslims than they were when I started my journey with Jesus.
The Unity of the Faith
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch contains a cross-cultural missions component. Through this Ethiopian, the gospel entered Africa, where it has remained for 2,000 years. Today, that gospel seed is growing in many African nations, with many African Muslims also coming to salvation in Christ. Throughout the world, the Holy Spirit is arranging divine appointments for Muslims to come across the path of Christians. Perhaps you have been “a Philip” to one of them. Many former Muslims are now numbered in the Body of Christ—believers from every tribe and tongue.
As we conclude this series, let us pray for Muslims. Intercede that the love of God would be shed abroad in their hearts. Whatever road they are on—even roads seeming to lead away from God—Jesus is able to rescue them there. He is looking for humble servants of God to help bring in the harvest. Indeed, the fields are white unto harvest!