Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.” (See Isaiah 53:7,8)
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”
Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Who is a God like you,
who pardons sins and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.”
A psalm of David.
I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
– Psalm 9:1-2
These two beginning verses of this psalm have been turned into a beautiful and simple song in more modern times, with different variations and melodies. I included the psalm introduction because it made me wonder what the song “The Death of The Son” was about, if it was the death of David’s first son with Bathsheba, and what that tune sounded like.
Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses – an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the LORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses.
Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law – the blessings and the curses – just as it is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.
Joshua 8:30-32, 34-35
A couple of things I thought of when I read this and imagined it: 1) they must have stood there a long time, and, 2) considering how large the group of people was (half the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half in front of Mount Ebal v.33), how did everyone hear what was said?
I would imagine that people had to pass the message along among themselves somewhat, and that the occasional crying baby or mischievous children wouldn’t have helped. There were no loudspeakers available or comfy seating. Copies of the law were not passed out among the population like there may have been today. They couldn’t go and visit a website for clarification or translation if Hebrew wasn’t their first language. And even if there had been it wouldn’t help if you’re illiterate. Except for those words in stone, it was based on word of mouth and memory. If you forgot something, or didn’t understand, you would have to go to the right person and ask.
He told them: “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
Talk about having to rely on your wits, the generosity of others, some good walking sandals, and a whole lot of faith. It’s a little daunting to imagine doing something like that. Mind you, as far as I can tell, the disciples stuck together and didn’t each go off by themselves individually, so at least they had each other.
Interestingly though, after all this trekking around, preaching, and healing people, when they return to Jesus, they’re tracked down by about 5000 people and, when asked by Jesus to feed the whole crowd, pointed out that they only had five loaves of bread and two fish, and how in the world was that going to be enough? It seems there was a disconnect somewhere there. I’m not sure how many miracles you have to see – and participate in – before you’re able to believe there might be another. However, it is comforting to know that they were still a work in process, just like me, and didn’t have everything figured out, yet. (See the Feeding of the Five Thousand later on in Luke chapter 9, as well as Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus’ prediction of His approaching death, The Transfiguration, and more)
“‘Who are you Lord?’ I asked.
“‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.
My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
“‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
“‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’
– Acts 22:8-10