“Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely separate me from His people’; and let not the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’ For thus says the Lord: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”
In Acts 8, we read about the ministry of Philip in Samaria. One of the encounters Philip has is with a foreigner, an Ethiopian eunuch and a court official to Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. The eunuch had been worshiping in Jerusalem and was traveling home by chariot with a copy of the words of the prophet Isaiah. Philip, by the leading of the Spirit, was directed to go stand by the chariot where he hears the eunuch reading from Isaiah…Isaiah 53 in fact. Philip asks a simple question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” The eunuch declares that he does not and he needs someone to explain it to him. So Philip begins with this great passage in Isaiah 53 that talks about the suffering Messiah, Jesus, and declares to him the Good News about Jesus, which leads him to decide to become a disciple of Christ.
So, what is the relevance of an Acts 8 summary when looking at a passage in Isaiah 56. It’s not Isaiah 56 that is quoted in Acts 8. I think its relevant because of the content of Isaiah 56. In my mind’s eye, when Philip begins with Isaiah 53, he must have spent a little more time in Isaiah’s prophecy…because with just a few turns of the scroll this eunuch would find a treasure chest of promises specifically for him…that would all find their fulfillment in the redemption purchased by Christ!
Isaiah 56 addresses two keys issues that would have been very relevant to the Ethiopian eunuch. One, Isaiah makes it absolutely clear that God’s house is a a house of prayer for “all nations,” so Ethiopians are definitely not excluded from the promises. Two, Isaiah addresses the particular physical state that the eunuch finds himself in. As a servant to the queen, this official had to be made a eunuch by men. He had no hope for a family of his own…no thought of a progeny that would carry on his name. His name would die with him. The Good News changes all that!
Imagine watching the scene unfold between Philip and this eunuch as he reads these words in Isaiah and he hears that he will be given a name that is better than sons and daughters, an everlasting name that will not be cut off! What had been permanently taken from him is permanently restored in Christ! I wish I could have eavesdropped on this Bible study!
This is what the Gospel does for all of us…eunuch or not. What seems to be permanently taken away from us by sin and circumstance…we find out in Christ is not so permanent. “Behold, he is making all things new!” There is nothing that has been done by us or to us that can hold back God’s restorative abilities. He has a family and a name waiting for you…an everlasting name…a good name…and it can never be taken away! Come home to Him. What are you waiting for?