Date: January 2, 2005
Theme: The Butterfly Effect
– Acts 8:26
– Ude, John
The Order of Worship:
Liturgy: TLH, p. 5 ff.
TLH 99 : Now are the Days Fulfilled
TLH 97 : Let us all with Gladsome Voice
TLH 83 : Hark! What Mean those Holy Voices
TLH 304 : An Awe-ful Mystery Is Here
TLH 598 : Who Knows When Death May Overtake me
TLH 598 : Who Knows When Death May Overtake me
Theme: The Butterfly Effect
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. (ESV)
Sermon: Acts 8:26 January 2, 2005
Acts 8:26 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.
In the Name of Jesus January 2, 2005
Have you ever heard of the so called Butterfly effect? This is the idea that: a butterfly stirring the air in Peking can transform into storm systems the next month in New York. But any effect the butterfly stirring has on that storm is so infinitesimal it’s not worth mentioning. Certainly small causes can combine through a greater design and energy into a major effect. But it’s the design, energy and conversion that produce the major effect not the butterfly stirring. The real corker is that the theory of evolution is in such chaos because of their inability to find a mechanism to produce life from chaos that some have now promoted The Butterfly Effect as the way life arose from chaos. So the argument goes that as the random dissipation of energy can produce the vortex of a hurricane so the random chaotic dissipation of energy could have produced life. But the weather system has design, energy and a conversion mechanism. Yet the evidence I have seen suggests rather dramatically that nothing orderly is produced by a hurricane. For anyone that wants to believe that the butterfly stirring in Peking produced the storm in New York or that a hurricane built an orderly city, evolution is just your cup of tea. For the rest of us, let us note with marvel how the Designer of the Universe energizes, converts, and unites every butterfly stirring to indeed bring life and order out of chaos.
V. 26 tells us about one butterfly stirring in Samaria that led to this divine path crossing. V. 26 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. The previous verses in Acts 8 have revealed that there is more than a butterfly stirring going on in Samaria. Philip came from Jerusalem preaching the gospel and a city wide revival began. He is so busy teaching all these people about God’s Word that he has sent a plea to Jerusalem for Peter and John to come and help him. There is no way he would have left for the desert at this point except the Designer of the Universe intervened to energize, convert, and unite every butterfly effect to bring this vector convergence, this divine path crossing in the desert.
V. 27 tells us about another butterfly stirring way down in Ethiopia that led to this divine path crossing. V. 27 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. Certainly it was more than a butterfly stirring that led this prominent Ethiopian to travel a thousand miles to worship the LORD. Somehow he had learned about the LORD who is the only God that lives and that He promised to send a Savior to die for all our sins. The Designer of the Universe had intervened through His saving word to create that faith that traveled a thousand miles to worship the LORD of his salvation and learn more about Him. He intervenes to energize, convert, and unite every butterfly effect to bring such a vector convergence, a divine path crossing.
If the Ethiopian were going to run into a Christian to hear that the promised Savior had come, that Jesus of Nazareth had died for his sins and risen to give him eternal life you’d think their paths would have crossed in Jerusalem where there were thousands of Christians and many of the apostles worshiping at the Jewish temple. There is no way these two strangers would just happen to meet in the desert. But the LORD knew who He wanted, where He wanted him and when He wanted him there. The Designer of the Universe intervened to energize, convert, and unite every butterfly effect to indeed bring this divine path crossing in the desert. V. 29 tells us about another butterfly stirring there in the desert that led to this divine path crossing. V. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near and overtake this chariot. Philip would not have had any opportunity to teach the Word to this important Treasurer of Ethiopia if the LORD had not opened the door. Philip was standing there in the middle of no where when he saw the chariot spewing up its dusty clouds and the Spirit said, Go near. The Ethiopian was already reading from Isaiah 53 about the suffering of the Savior and Philip could simply ask, Do you understand what you are reading? The LORD opened the door for Philip to tell about the amazing love of Jesus that silently accepted all the accusations and scorn that was unjustly heaped upon Him, all the grief and agony of being crucified, and all the curses and desolation of death for the sins of the world without once grumbling or complaining. But the LORD also opened the door for Philip to tell about the astounding conclusion, Jesus arose from the dead. Isaiah had foretold it: who can declare His generation namely it didn’t end at death. No man can count its length. Isaiah continues that after death the LORD shall prolong His days and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall justify many. Yes, the Designer of the Universe intervened to energize, convert, and unite every butterfly effect to open this door for a divine path crossing in the desert.
V. 36 tells us about one more butterfly stirring in the desert that climaxed this divine path crossing. V. 36b, 37 And the eunuch said, See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I Cor. 12:3 No man can say that Jesus is LORD but by the Holy Ghost. John 3:5 Except a man is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Even all these accumulated butterfly stirring would not have united in faith if the Designer of the Universe had not intervened to energize, convert, and unite every butterfly effect to indeed bring the divine gift of faith in Jesus to the heart of this Ethiopian Treasurer. He fulfilled His promise: Those who seek Me, will be found by Me. That was the climax of this butterfly effect from the Designer of the Universe but not the conclusion. It was, in fact, just getting really started. Philip was flown away, before airplanes, by the Spirit to carry on the Spirit’s butterfly effect in Azotus and Caesarea. While the Ethiopian vehicle was a little slower, soon there were many thriving Christian congregations all across Ethiopia continuing The Butterfly Effect of the Designer of the Universe so thirsty souls could be refreshed in the rain showers of the gospel: your sins are forgiven.
This is a Butterfly effect that is still sweeping the world from Peking to New York, even in our tiny CLC. One person joined us when the spirit prompted him to suddenly take a very unique route home, saw our church, and investigated further. Another traveling through Corpus Christi, Texas saw the CLC ad there, didn’t have time there but looked us up. Another was browsing in a Wisconsin Synod Seminary but found the CLC’s Lutheran Spokesman and checked us out. It was such a path crossing with a member of our San Francisco congregation that led to the Nigerian CLC. Another with a member from Ipswich SD led to the CLC in India. And The Butterfly Effect from the Designer of the Universe is not intended to conclude now, so stir your gospel wings: Jesus died for your sins and was raised for your justification. Often we don’t know what to say. But we can ask: Do you understand? Often we’re afraid. But if the LORD can use a butterfly stirring in Ethiopia to bring a divine path crossing in the desert, He can take care of you. Stir your gospel wings so the Designer of the Universe may energize, convert, and unite your butterfly stirring for a divine path crossing in the desert. Amen