This is a sunrise picture from my daughter's dining room. Its a gorgeous sunrise, and that alone is interesting, but the chandelier caught my attention. For you see, my family were poor farm people and never in their wildest dreams could have imagined owning such a thing!!! Yet, just a couple of generations later... success! Not without huge amounts of hard work by my daughter and her husband, though. Still, its hard for me to conceive of such financial success, but it can still happen in America. Which makes me wonder what we really know about others and how often do we put ourselves in their shoes. Today, in Bible class, we were listening to a lecture on baptism from the book of Acts and I began to understand something new about the topic. And these three passages came to mind...
WEB: Acts Chapter 8
 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert.”
 He arose and went; and behold, there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship.  He was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.
 The Spirit said to Philip, “Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.”
 Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
 He said, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” He begged Philip to come up and sit with him.  Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this,
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.
As a lamb before his shearer is silent,
so he doesn’t open his mouth.
 In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away.
Who will declare His generation?
For his life is taken from the earth.”
 The eunuch answered Philip, “Who is the prophet talking about? About himself, or about someone else?”
 Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached to him Jesus.  As they went on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Behold, here is water. What is keeping me from being baptized?”
  He commanded the chariot to stand still, and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, and the eunuch didn’t see him any more, for he went on his way rejoicing.
WEB: Isaiah Chapter 56
 Thus says Yahweh, “Keep justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.  Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
 Neither let the foreigner, who has joined himself to Yahweh, speak, saying, “Yahweh will surely separate me from his people;” neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
 For thus says Yahweh, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant:  to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.  Also the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh, to minister to him, and to love the name of Yahweh, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant;  even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
WEB: Deuteronomy 23:1. He who is wounded in the stones, or has his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the assembly of Yahweh.
As we read the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch, I wondered why he put his question the way he did. I had always thought of the Eunuch having a sense of urgency and this is seems to be the case. But, I wondered, WHY would he be concerned with someone preventing him from being baptized??? The answer that came to me this afternoon was that not only was the Ethiopian a foreigner, but he was a eunuch as well. So, under the law of the Old Testament, he was excluded from the assembly (the synagogue or church of the Old Testament). But under the NEW TESTAMENT, even a mulitated stranger had hope!!!! God was now available to everyone; the door to heaven was unrestricted. The window on the world that the EUNUCH now looked through had a new SONRISE (not sunrise) and that is more valuable than any financial success anyone could ever have!!! Its no wonder he went on his way rejoicing!!!!!