As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.(NLT)
When we read passages like this we can fall into two opposite errors. One is that we immediately assume this is what will happen to us. We, like Philip, will be whisked away from where we are to some obscure place through angelic direction. And there we will bring someone to a knowledge of Jesus….just like that!
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Or we can read this as one sort of guidance people received back in those days but now when we have the Bible we don’t experience that sort of thing. It was OK for then but doesn’t really apply now.
We would be wrong on both counts. It is not often we get such dramatic and unexpected guidance. We are not to sit around paralysed until we feel some angelic prompting. Much guidance is mundane, doing what seems acceptable according to what we know of God’s ways.
Yet we can’t be blind and deaf to such promptings either. God has not indicated that just because we have the complete Scriptures that he will not guide in such extraordinary ways. He does not so readily limit himself.
We need to be not tied to the dramatic and extraordinary: much Christian living is not like that at all. Then again, we dare not dismiss the dramatic and extraordinary: God tends to burst out of the boxes into which we place him. There is a time and place for following our holy hunches.