The early church Evangelist Philip was visited by an angel of the Lord who commanded him to “rise and go.” He was sent south on the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza, the author of Acts being careful to remind the reader that the region to which Philip would travel “is a desert place.” This region passing through Gaza is still a place where water is in dreadfully short supply, the sun baked ground scared deep by the rushing sand filled winds. It was and is an area rightly called a desert place. Yet it was to this dead land that God sent Philip on a special mission to bring water to the desert place.
Along the road, Philip came to the chariot caravan of a high-ranking Ethiopian official. As he heard the official read aloud from Isaiah, the Spirit of the Lord impressed upon Philip to run up and inquire of him. Upon questioning, it became clear that the official did not understand to whom the text he was reading referred. He did not know the Gospel of Christ. Immediately, Philip was invited to join the official in the chariot. Scripture records that Philip then “told him the good news about Jesus.”
We do not know how long Philip travelled with the official. What we do know from the text is that the official gladly received the testimony of the Gospel! This is made clear by the actions of the official. For as soon as he saw water, he asked Philip if he could be baptized. Both the official and Philip “went down into the water” and the official was gloriously baptized.
Scripture records that as soon as the two men came up out of the water, Philip was carried away by the Spirit. The official, having been granted repentance and faith, believed the true Gospel concerning Christ, and having been baptized in water in obedience to Christ’s command, “went on his way rejoicing!” The Lord was pleased to “add to the church daily such as should be saved.”
In this dry and desolate place, Philip crossed paths with a man who blindly read the Scripture having no understanding of the Gospel. Yet, by God’s grace, the official’s spiritual eyes were opened to the Christ of whom Isaiah wrote. The Lord of Glory sent living water into the dry and desolate place that was the official’s spiritually dead heart, sending the refreshing Gospel of Christ through the preaching of His servant Philip. The land cried loud hosannas unto the Lord as even the dry ground itself bubbled forth in cool, clear, water!
The Ethiopian official went on his way rejoicing! And God’s people can rejoice today as well. We too have been given eyes to see Christ and His blessed Gospel work. “Out of our bellies flow rivers of living water” as the Spirit Himself bears witness that we are the children of Almighty God through Christ. Praise God forevermore! God has brought water to the desert place!