“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” — Acts 8:5-6 NKJV

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” — Acts 8:26-35 NKJV

Twins! There’s an unexplainable connection between them.

I only know this from observation, seeing as I don’t have any siblings. My family has several sets of twins, perhaps that is the reason I’m an only child, who knows.

My maternal grandfather had a twin sister. My dad had a twin brother. I have an aunt who has a twin sister. I have two sets of twin nieces, one set in heaven.

As for my dad and my aunt, they have identical twins. My grandfather and my nieces, though you can identify the kinship through their similarities, they were not born identical with their twin.

“Listening” and “hearing,” they could be considered twins ... but not identical twins. Listening is required if we are to hear but it is far too often that we are in a listening mode and for some reason hearing just doesn’t take place.

It happens among bffs, it happens in a marriage, it certainly happens in a parent/child relationship, and unfortunately it happens to Christians in our relationship with God.

There are many examples in scripture of people who listened but did not hear. Pharaoh was one, Jonah was another. Perhaps that’s why the phrase “those who have an ear, let them hear” is repeated so frequently in the prophetic scriptures.

Here, Philip gives us a terrific example of someone who listened and heard.

We find him in verses 5 and 6 making history. He’s the evangelist who is seeing the masses come to Christ. This was a huge, ongoing revival-type atmosphere.

From any viewpoint, Philip was seeing great success in this ministry and multitudes were following Christ. To suddenly walk away from it would be ... what word are you thinking of? Illogical? Confusing? Just downright crazy?

Well if he had a disconnect between his listening and his hearing, any of those might work. But in this case, Philip was listening and hearing as God said, “Leave. I want you to walk away from greatness. I want you to trade ministry fame for obscurity. I want to you to go to the desert.”

Sometimes when we hear God’s message we need to respond quickly. The reason is, when it’s a message that contradicts human logic, lingering can be followed by human reasoning and, well, we know that God’s methods are not the same as human methods.

What if Phil had stayed in Samaria? The revival for these second-class Jews would continue and someday Phil might have had a TV show or a biblical school named after him.

We would consider that to be noble, even justifiable. But what about the consequences? Let’s look at them.

Philip heard “Go to the desert.” He went.

When Philip saw the Ethiopian, he heard “Go to him.” He went.

The Ethiopian eunuch believed, was baptized, and went to a new region rejoicing, he went on his way to share Jesus with others.

Philip then traveled to the coast line of the Mediterranean preaching from Azotus, then Joppa onto Caesarea.

Azotus is also known as Ashdod. This was one of the principle cities of the Philistines, an arch enemy of God for centuries. Think of this, the same people group who stood with Goliath as he fell to his death at the hands of a shepherd boy, his slingshot, and his God. Centuries later, God is sending his messenger to share redemption’s story.

These people were still wayward after all this time but God is so loving that he called the evangelist, Rev. Philip, away from what might have been the greatest crusade since Pentecost and sent him through the desert to win a single foreigner then to the philistine residue.

To human eyes this plan would have looked like certain failure. The church council, deacons and elders would have agreed that his ministry was doomed for failure ... isn’t that what everyone thought about Jesus as He was nailed to the cross? It’s over? He’s finished? Defeat?

Time and time again the disciples had listened as Jesus told them how He would be killed ... but they hadn’t heard.

The path from Calvary’s vantage point looked like failure to the natural eye. The plan to pull Philip away from huge crowds to go to the desert and share the gospel looked like a foolish plan, but God’s ways are above our ways. His wisdom supersedes what we can understand with the natural mind.

Real success is seen in obeying God’s call. Obedience, well that’s the difference between listening and hearing!

God is speaking to you today. Are you hearing, or just listening?

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Dr. Dennis Cagle is the founder of Xaltm LLC who has been a pastor for 36 years and currently works as a church consultant. He is a former resident of McMinn County and current resident of Tellico Plains. He can be contacted at xaltm@yahoo.com

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