After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages. Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip,Go south to the road — the desert road — that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.Acts 8:25-26
An angel suddenly appeared to Philip. I've never had an angel appear to me. I do not know anyone else to whom an angel has appeared. You may ask,
Does God still work through angels today? and the answer is a resounding
Yes! He does. But they are not always visible. The ministry of angels, according to the Bible, goes on all the time. They are ministering spirits sent forth to serve those who are heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). All of us are being touched and affected by the ministry of angels, but we do not see them. There have been well-documented experiences and incidences of the appearance of angels recorded in church history. I believe that, as we draw nearer to the days of the return of Jesus Christ, we may well expect to see a return of angelic manifestation.
Here is an unexpected agency through which the Holy Spirit works. An angel appears to Philip and gives him an unexplained command to go south and take the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. He could not have picked an emptier stretch of road. It is desert road. There are no cities or villages there. The wonderful thing to me is the beautiful way in which Philip obeyed this command of the angel. He did not say,
Well, I'll have to pray about this. He did not say to himself,
Well, I wonder if this is a call to a larger field of service. He just went, that is all. He left the awakening that was going on at Samaria, with its demands for training and teaching. He arose and went down to a desert road.
This is a beautiful picture for us of what we might call
the wind of God, the sovereign blowing of the Holy Spirit, and of the adventure that is always characteristic of someone who is being led by the Holy Spirit. Verse 25 and Verse 26 are both records of Spirit-filled activity. Peter and John were obeying the Holy Spirit when they testified, prophesied, and evangelized. But Philip is also obeying the Holy Spirit when he is being sent by an angel out to a desert place. Both are part of the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led life.
That needs to be made clear because we tend to run to extremes. The Spirit often leads through the ordinary, the usual, and he can be very effective that way. But that is not the only way. This is the lesson that God is forever teaching us. This is the creative strategy of the Holy Spirit, the freedom to interfere, the freedom to override a program, and to change it, and to make something new. The church has suffered terribly by ruling that out, by so organizing everything that there is no room for the Spirit to move.
Father, thank you for the sovereign ability of the Holy Spirit to direct me in ways that I cannot predict. What a note of excitement this adds for me, Lord! What a glorious sense of expectation becomes mine as I constantly wonder when you are going to break through and do the unusual again in my life.
Is the 'wind beneath our wings' the Holy Spirit, or are we guided by whim, or another lesser motivation? Are we missing the wonder and worship of being led by the Spirit of the Living God?