In a divine appointment people are involved in what takes place but God is the primary person in the story. He is the one who takes the initiative and sets people or circumstances in motion to bring about what He wants to take place.
(John Lathrop)

When Christians get together we sometimes speak about “divine appointments.” By this we mean circumstances or situations in which we can clearly detect the hand of God at work.

God is definitely the one orchestrating the circumstances. In many divine appointments a person crosses our path at just the right time with just the right message or provision. The phrase “divine appointment” is not found in the Bible, but the concept certainly is.

In a divine appointment people are involved in what takes place but God is the primary person in the story. He is the one who takes the initiative and sets people or circumstances in motion to bring about what He wants to take place.

He knows the best way to bring about His will. In what follows I am going to direct your attention to two biblical accounts of divine appointments. One interesting thing to note is that in both of these cases, which are different, they seem to hold one thing in common: no human being prayed for the divine appointment.

The Lord took the initiative completely on His own. The two divine appointments I am going to focus our attention on come from the Book of Acts. The first concerns Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch and the second concerns Cornelius and the apostle Peter.

Philip & The Ethiopian Eunuch

In Acts 8 Philip is in Samaria carrying on ministry. He is experiencing success there as many people are hearing the message of Jesus, some are being healed, and others are being delivered from evil spirits (Acts 8:6-7).

While he was there the Lord, through an angel of the Lord, gave him direction to go to a certain desert road (Acts 8:26). He obeyed and started on his way, and as he journeyed he encountered an Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27). The Holy Spirit then instructed him to go near to the chariot that the eunuch was riding in (Acts 8:29).

Philip heard the man reading from Isaiah the prophet, explained to him that the text he was reading was speaking about Jesus, and led the man to the Lord (Acts 8:30-38). This all took place because the Lord set things in motion. The Lord prompted the Christian, Philip, to go and meet up with an unsaved man. This divine appointment resulted in the salvation of a man’s soul.

Peter & Cornelius

In Acts 10 we have the account of another divine appointment, this one involved different individuals. Here again the Lord orchestrated the circumstances. Some of the details of the story are similar to the account that we looked at in Acts 8.

The supernatural is once again evident; in this case also an angel is involved (Acts 10:3). The angel appeared to Cornelius who, although in some sense was a godly man, was not at the time saved (Acts 11:14).

The angel told him to send for the apostle Peter, he even told him where he could be found (Acts 10:5-6). Cornelius obeyed (Acts 10:7-8). After setting things in motion the Lord began to work on the apostle Peter. He gave him a vision of a sheet with all kinds of unclean animals in it and spoke to him by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:10-20).

These things were enough to get Peter to go to the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:23). This resulted in the salvation not just of Cornelius but of all those who had gathered in his house. God verified that they were saved by giving them the same experience of the Holy Spirit that the early believers had received on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (Acts 10:44-47).

These accounts show us some important truths about divine appointments.

First, they show us that the Lord does not need our help to draw up the plans for these kinds of arrangements.

Second, they show us the ends to which the Lord will go to bring people to salvation. In both cases the Lord used supernatural direction to bring Christians and non-Christians together so that the non-Christian could hear the message of salvation.

Third, these texts show us that our God is a God of variety. In Acts 8 he directed the Christian in order to lead him to the non-Christian and in Acts 10 he directed the non-Christian in order to connect him with the Christian.

He knows what He is doing, the proof is in the results; people entered His Kingdom! This is not to say that the only purpose for divine appointments is to bring salvation to the lost. The Lord can use them for any of His purposes. It just so happens that the two texts I chose to focus on dealt with salvation.

Our part as believers is to be obedient to what we sense to be the direction of the Lord. He wants to use us in His work, and if we obey Him He will. We may not realize until later that we are part of a divine appointment. Our obedience will bless us and others as well.


John P. Lathrop - United States

John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.

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