After Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, God told Ananias that he was to minister to this man who had tormented and persecuted the Church. When Ananias resisted, God explained that Paul was “a chosen vessel.”
God had promised victory, but Judah was not able to drive out the inhabitants of Jerusalem. But this tribe was not alone. For example, Ephraim “did not drive out the Canaanites” (Joshua 16:10). And, Manasseh faced Canaanites who “were determined to dwell in that land” (Joshua 17:12). Why were they so hard to defeat?
Joshua had been one of twelve spies who explored the land of Canaan. Ten spies were discouraged when they saw the “descendants of Anak” and told the Israelites that they could not possibly be victorious (Numbers 13:28-33).
When Moses died, the children of Israel faced a mountain of problems. They knew that Joshua was their new leader, but they didn’t know what kind of leader he would be. Was he up to the challenge? Over time, it became clear that Joshua was the right man. That he was in tune with God. That they could depend upon him. God confirmed him in leadership as he directed them into the Promised Land.
Paul attracted more attention than anyone else in the New Testament church.
He was dynamic, energetic, and bold. He wrote letters and started churches. He cast out demons and performed miracles.
But his ministry might not have been possible without the example provided by Stephen, and the influence he made on Paul.
Philip brought the Gospel to the people in Samaria, fulfilling Jesus’ statement that they would bring the Gospel to that region (Acts 1:8). Many were saved, and there were miracles. People responded with great joy. But the apostles in Jerusalem realized that these new Believers needed to be equipped. To have the strength and power that God had made available to them. They needed the Holy Spirit.
Philip was led by God to the desert. In fact, he was led to a specific place, at a specific time.
He arrived to “the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (v. 26). There, he met a eunuch. Gradually, God’s plan became clearer to Philip.
The Spirit guided him, telling Philip to go to the chariot. As he obeyed, God was able to use him in the life of this Ethiopian. Why? Because he was in the place where God wanted him to be.
Tribulation! A word that implies situations that none of us really want to face. This word causes us to think of persecution, martyrs who sacrificed their lives, and intense spiritual warfare. We may understand the concept of glorying in tribulation, but certainly do not want to relate to it, embrace it, or even think about it. But Paul actually was referring to practical situations, not just life-and-death experiences. The word here translated “tribulation” means “pressure.”
We can hardly imagine a more hopeless situation. First, their homeland was devastated by a famine so severe that Naomi and her entire family were compelled to move. Where did they go? To Moab, a country that had been Israel’s enemy. Then, her husband and both of her sons died.
She was left as an outsider in a foreign land, without a husband or sons in a society in which men provided the food, clothes, protection, and shelter. She easily could have given up. But Naomi pressed on, taking one step at a time.
Joshua did not know why his people had been defeated in battle.
But, looking at the circumstances, he decided that God had abandoned them.
His words are the words of a defeated man. A man who felt that all hope was lost. A man who was depressed and discouraged.