One-a-Day...for the Heart: Now You See Him; Now You Don't
I could have sworn he was there just a minute ago. Where is he? If you’ve ever lost someone in a crowd or had a small child escape to the toy aisle in a store, the feeling can be terribly unsettling and fearsome. One minute the person is right beside you, even conversing with you, and the next, he or she is gone.
When my daughter was a very young child, we were together in a store, laughing and talking, and then we weren’t. She was nowhere to be seen! Fear came over me, and I frantically began searching for her, calling her name. Thankfully, her greatest love was singing, and within minutes I heard her sweet, little voice singing from under a round rack of clothing in the department store. She was joyfully oblivious to the upset she had caused as she completed her song under the clothing display.
In the book of Acts, an account is given about Philip, a godly man chosen with six other men “of good reputation, full of the Spirit, and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3) to tend to various needs of widows, as well as devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. Marvelous signs and wonders occurred as these men prayed for the people of Samaria and told them the good news of salvation through Jesus. The group of ministers left for Jerusalem, but an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip and told him to go on a different route, south of Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26).
The story is recorded in Acts 8:25-40, and as Philip proceeded on the route to Gaza, he came upon an Ethiopian eunuch who was a court official for the Queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch was sitting in his chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah’s words. The Holy Spirit told Philip to go and join the chariot (vs. 29). As he approached the chariot, Philip heard the eunuch reading Isaiah’s words, and he asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading (vs. 30). The eunuch’s reply was, Well, how could I, unless someone guides me? (vs.31). Then he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Philip explained the prophet Isaiah’s words to the eunuch, pointing out that Jesus Christ was the person Isaiah prophesied about. He taught the eunuch about salvation through belief in Christ and opened his understanding about water baptism and the need for it, as well as salvation. His teaching was so effective that as the two men passed a body of water, the eunuch said, Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized? Upon hearing the eunuch’s profession of faith that he believed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God (vs.37), they stopped the chariot, went down to the water, and Philip baptized the eunuch.
And then an amazing thing happened. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea (Acts 8:39-40 NASB).
The Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The Greek word for “snatched” is harpazo, which means to seize, catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force). The distance from Samaria to Azotus is a 23.5-hour walk, but Philip found himself translated there immediately after ministering salvation and water baptism to the eunuch. No mention is made of him embarking on a 23.5-hour walk. No mention is made of the hunger, thirst, and exhaustion he would have experienced on such a long walk. Azotus is about 30 miles north of Gaza, and Philip was taken there by the Holy Spirit.
For the eunuch, it must have been a now-you-see-him; now-you-don’t experience as he came up out of the waters of baptism, and Philip had vanished. Unlike my daughter, Philip was not off somewhere singing, like behind a bush or a tree. Scripture simply records that the eunuch saw him no more.
Harpazo—meaning seized, caught up, plucked, pulled away—appears in another scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where an astounding verse describes the taking out of the Church, or as many Bible scholars call it the Rapture of the Church. Verse 16 sets the stage for this glorious event that will happen to every man, woman, and child who knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (HARPAZO!) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Not one more prophecy has to be fulfilled for the Rapture to occur. It could happen today, tonight, tomorrow, next year, whenever the Father orders it (Mark 13:32). No one knows when we will be harpazo’d, only God alone. Philip experienced what being harpazo’d felt like. Will you be one who is caught up to meet the Lord in the air? If, as the eunuch, you believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, you, too will be harpazo’d. How glorious to hear the Lord’s shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God!
This is good news, friends! Tell everyone you know, so that we may all meet our Savior in the air on that extraordinary day! Love and serve Christ with all your heart. Now you see us; now you don’t!
© 2021, Chris Werre