The Curse of Ham part 2
Updated: May 31, 2019
The first convert declared in the New Testament is the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts chapter 8. Before Peter's vision and the conversion of Cornelius and his household, this prophetic regeneration occurs most supernaturally. In Deuteronomy, the law states in 23:1 that “He who is emasculated [eunuch] by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.” Chapter 23 also tells us that no foreigners were allowed in the temple. For some, their descendants if they become part of the Israelite community would be allowed, but others were never be allowed. The penalty for violating these ordinances was death and was taken most seriously. But several hundred years later, the prophet Isaiah would write in chapter 56:4-8
For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.
“Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
This prophecy is fulfilled in this Ethiopian.
God removes these barriers telling the church that all are welcome. Exclusion no longer exists--the Gospel is for all. But more importantly to our purpose, this eunuch was from Ethiopia. In the ancient world, the Kingdom of Ethiopia was located about where Sudan is now. It was an advanced Kingdom with deep cultural ties to Egypt and was independent of Rome. It also descended from Ham but not from Canaan.
Additionally and racially, the Kingdom of Ethiopia was a Black African nation. So the first Gentile convert we are told of in the New Testament was converted through God orchestrated supernatural activities. He was a foreigner, he was a eunuch (fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy), he was Hammite, and he was Black. Clearly, this is no accident; God made it utterly obvious that the curse of Ham was false. Those that claimed it stand without excuse. The Gospel was for all and is for all, and the slavery that the “curse of Ham” produced as far from the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the “east is from the west.”
One application I offer from this passage is that just as the Gospel is for all people, the Gospel is from all people. Philip didn’t need to be Black to share the Gospel with a Black man--he remained Jewish. So also, we don’t need to lose our racial or cultural identity when sharing the Gospel with someone different from us. We should be sensitive to words or actions that could be hurtful, but we don’t change our identity. Share your faith trusting in Jesus Christ to bridge whatever differences exist. Heaven is made up of every kind of people. In Revelation 5, John writes of Jesus and His people,
"For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”