Friday, April 21, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - April 21, 2017

Today's Reading:

Acts 8:26-40

Joshua 1-2

Job 21

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

In Acts, we read about the amazing encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. What an experience! Philip is instructed to go to this roadway where he has no idea what to expect. There he sees a chariot with a dignitary from Ethiopia (the eunuch served the queen). And the story of how Philip was used to lead the eunuch to Christ goes on from there. Beautiful!

But, we don't often hear the rest of the story. What happened afterwards? We know that Philip was taken up in whirlwind, like the original (and true) Pecos Bill. But what happened to the eunuch? Did he stay true to his new baptism and commitment to Christ? I had always wondered... Today, I thought I would share with you some exciting history about eunuch and how Philip's missionary work that day actually impacted the whole country of Ethiopia!

Candace of Ethiopia

According to the research of D.A. Hubbard, in his New Bible Dictionary, the eunuch was a treasury official in the court of Candace of Ethiopia (Hubbard, D. A. (1962). "Ethiopian eunuch". In Douglas, J. D. New Bible Dictionary. IVF. p. 398.) 

Ancient historian, Pliny,  writes that the "Queen of the Ethiopians" bore the title Candace, and indicates that the Ethiopians had conquered ancient Syria and the Mediterranean (Turner, Sharon (1834). The Sacred History of the World, as Displayed in the Creation and Subsequent Events to the Deluge: Attempted to be Philosophically Considered, in a Series of Letters to a Son, Volume 2. Longman. pp. 480–482.) 

The eunuch was powerful, being the chief treasurer of a kingdom wealthy from its iron smelting, gold mining and trading position. At the time, Ethiopia was a conduit for goods from the rest of the continent. Candace, queen of the Ethiopians (better "Queen Mother, ruling monarch of the Ethiopians," since candace is a title, not a proper name), cared for the duties of state. The candace in this instance was Amanitare (A.D. 25-41; Wead 1982:197; Crocker 1986:67)

When the Ethiopian eunuch returned to his homeland and queen after being baptized by Philip that day, he brought the Torah, Sabbath-keeping, and the worship of Yahweh to Ethiopia. The whole country changed from worshiping false gods to the worship of the one, true Almighty God. How can we know this? Because, in 1410, the reigning queen of Ethiopia wrote it in her testimony to the papacy!

After Constantine began working to paganize Christianity in 325 AD, he changed the Sabbath to Sunday and replaced the annual Sabbaths with Babylonian days of worship. From this point onward, the papal power began to apply increasing pressure on the nations of the world to bring them into alignment with the teachings of papal Rome.

Ethiopia was resistant to Rome's increasing pressure. And by 1410, Pope John XXIII was writing some very threatening letters to the Queen of Ethiopia, demanding that she bring her country under the leadership of the Mother Church and that she command her people to abide by the doctrines of papal Rome.

The Queen of Ethiopia wrote a powerful letter back to the pope. Her letter is found in the book, The Church History of Habassia or Ethiopia, p 62. In her letter to the pope, the Queen of Ethiopia stated that she would not recant the beliefs of her nation. She stated that her nation's worship of Yahweh, their keeping of Sabbath, the annual Sabbaths, and their other Biblical doctrines had been learned from the apostle Philip himself. From this letter, we can learn that Philip's missionary work with the eunuch not only bore fruit but converted a country! And that conversion and faithfulness to God continued some 1300 years after the eunuch's baptism!

The following beliefs were listed in the Queen's letter to the pope. All of these beliefs she credited Philip with having taught them:

  • "We observe nothing but what we find in the Law and the Prophets" (The Church History of Habassia or Ethiopia, p 62)... which included (as she stated in her letter):

    •  baptism by immersion

    • Ethiopia worshiped on the Seventh-day Sabbath.
    • In Ethiopia, confession of sins was made only to God.
    • Ethiopia believed that "exhorting to alms" (strong-arming people into giving money to the church) was wrong.
    • Ethiopia believed that both the Old and New Testaments were in effect and should be obeyed.
    • Ethiopia kept all of God's feasts and refused to keep the Papal holy days.
And that is the amazing result from one day's work in the life of the apostle Philip! And now you know the rest of the story...