By Elizabeth Prata
Our pastor preached the section in Acts recently about the Ethiopian Eunuch. I love that scene with Philip. Philip is mentioned a few times in the Bible but we lose track of him soon after this section in Acts. We don’t really know for sure whatever happened to the man. Tradition says he became a bishop of a church in Tralles, and died there, but we are not sure.
The Eunuch is also interesting. He was from Ethiopia, the scriptures are careful to mention. (And won’t it be glorious when we get ‘there’ and learn his actual name!)
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, (Acts 8:27).
Ethiopia covered a larger territory than the nation of Ethiopia we know now. In any case, it was a long way for a man to come. The Eunuch was reading the scriptures in his chariot when Philip approached him at the direction of the Spirit. It was a long way to come, especially since the man knew the scriptures and presumably knew he would not be allowed into the temple. Eunuchs were banned from the assembly.
No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off may enter the assembly of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 23:1)
The distance was roughly 2000 miles from the ancient land of Ethiopia to where we find the Eunuch south of Jerusalem. He was not allowed in the temple but he had been in God’s city anyway, to worship, the verse says. (Acts 8:27-28).
When the Eunuch heard the Good News of Jesus that Philip delivered to him and was then baptized, the Eunuch went on his way rejoicing. Would you travel that far? In an open jalopy? Taking weeks to arrive? Banned from entering your ultimate objective? And then leave rejoicing?
Then we have the Magi. They were from “the East”.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, (Matthew 2:1)
These Wise Men were likely from Persia, from the court there in Susa. It’s about 800 miles from the court to the temple, as the crow flies. The road meanders so it’s likely the distance would have been closer to 900 or 1000 miles. If the caravan traveled 20 miles a day, the usual achievable distance in daylight, it would have taken them 50 or so days to reach the Christ child. It was a long, hot, and dangerous journey. They were not even sure where He was, they had to ask Herod. When they found Him they fell down and worshiped. Would you travel that far, not sure where He even was, and then when you find Him, to fall down and worship a child?
Then we have the Queen of Sheba. It’s thought that her country was Saba, modern day Yemen. Her journey was the longest of all. She traveled over 3000 miles, because she had heard of the wisdom of Solomon and the name of Yahweh.
Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. (1 Kings 10:1).
The Queen tested Solomon with many questions and riddles, and verified that his wisdom was indeed prodigious. She showered Solomon with many gifts, impressed with this Yahweh who gave such wisdom to men. The scriptures say she was actually breathless, and she blessed the Lord. (1 Kings 10:9).
The Eunuch was concerned with knowing the scriptures of the LORD, the Magi were concerned with worshiping the Christ, and the Queen of Sheba was concerned with the name of the LORD. They traveled many thousands of miles to inquire into these things, all the more impressive because they were not believers. (Though the Eunuch was likely a proselyte).
How far would you go to receive the word of God, to be in a solid assembly, to learn more about this Christ and His resurrection? We have air conditioned vehicles, airplanes, comfort stations, fast food…how far would you go to make sure you were in a good church? (How far would I go?).