“Word for Today” – Acts 8 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 30, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Dirty Jobs 1“It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.”  Such is the premise of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.”  Mike travels the country looking for the most disgusting, most repelling, most stomach-churning jobs around.  And he does not disappoint.  Fish gutter, sewer inspector, owl vomit collector, alligator farmer – These jobs don’t even sound real!  But they are.  And Rowe loves to show his viewers the ins and outs of jobs most people didn’t even know existed.

Although I’m not sure it qualifies as a dirty job in the sense that it gets you literally, physically dirty, it still turns my stomach and repels my senses.  I’m talking about the dirty, yet biblical, job of “eunuch.”  In the Ancient Near East, eunuchs were commonly high ranking political assistants who, because they were incapable of having children, would not be tempted to seize power and start a dynasty of their own and were thus entrusted with a large amount of power by a nation’s sovereign.  What could gain a person desirable political status, however, would not gain them a desirable spiritual status.  For Scripture commands, “No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 23:1).  Thus, in Israel at least, eunuchs were excluded from the temple of God and were considered religiously abhorrent.

In our reading for today from Acts 8, we meet a man with the dirty job of a eunuch.  As was common, he was a high-ranking political official, being an assistant “in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of Ethiopia” (verse 26).  But his high rank came with a cost – a cost of exclusion from the temple in Jerusalem.  But this eunuch’s life was about to change.  For an angel of the Lord has directed a Christian named Philip to meet with this Ethiopian eunuch who, in a moment of divine providence, just happens to be reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah:

He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.  By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  And who can speak of his descendants?  For he was cut off from the land of the living. (Isaiah 53:7-8)

Upon meeting Philip, this eunuch wants to know, “’Who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’  Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him about the good news of Jesus Christ” (verses 34-35).  And although the eunuch may still have been prevented from entering the Jewish temple, he is not prevented from receiving a Christian baptism:  “Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him” (verse 38).  This eunuch is no longer excluded from God, for he has received a relationship with God through baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

Only a few chapters after the one the Ethiopian eunuch was reading that day when he met with Philip, the prophet Isaiah declares:

For this is what the LORD says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant – to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56:4-5)

God’s intention, it seems, was to include eunuchs as a part of his people all along.  Indeed, they receive a name even better than those who were allowed in the temple under Deuteronomical law.

Although no one reading this blog probably has the dirty job of a eunuch, we all have dirty jobs that we must face in our lives.  Standing up for integrity in a corrupt workplace.  Parenting a rebellious child.  Staying with an unfaithful spouse.  Shepherding a family through a terrible tragedy.  All of these are dirty jobs.  And it is when we are called to work these dirty jobs that we sometimes wonder, “Is God there with me as I work these dirty jobs?  Can I approach him and ask him for the power, wisdom, and direction that I need?  Does God even care about I’m going through?”  The answer the Ethiopian eunuch would give would be a resounding, “Yes!”  Whether we work a dirty job or are dirtied by sin, we can be assured that we have “an everlasting name that will not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5).  For we have the everlasting name of God placed upon us in our baptisms.  And this name is a name which guides us even unto salvation.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Acts 7 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 9 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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