Ted N.C. Wilson
Greetings, brothers and sisters! Today we will be looking at a very interesting story found in the book of Acts, chapter 8, beginning in verses 26-28:
"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 a desert. So he arose and went. 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, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet."
Let's pause for a moment and consider several interesting points from this passage. First, it says that "an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip." Who was Philip? He was not one of the twelve disciples, but we know he was a faithful follower of Jesus who served as one of the first deacons of the early church.
And who was the Ethiopian? Although we don't know his name, we do know several things about him. He was a high official in the court of Queen Candace of Ethiopia. In fact, the Bible tells us he "had charge of all her treasury"--in other words, he was the treasurer--a very trusted and intelligent individual.
Interestingly, this man had "come to Jerusalem to worship," and now as he was returning home, he was reading from the scroll of Isaiah. In fact, Acts 8:32-33 tells us what passage from Isaiah the man was reading:
"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth."
As the Ethiopian was contemplating this passage, trying to understand it, the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip: "'Go near and overtake this chariot.' So, Philip ran to him and . . . said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?'"
Now, it's important to note that this is not something Philip could do in his own strength--it would be impossible for a human being to run faster than horses pulling a chariot! Nevertheless, as we are told in Christ's Object Lessons: "As the will of man cooperates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings" (p. 333).
So, Philip ran up to the moving chariot and asked the Ethiopian, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And the man answered, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" and invited Philip to join him in the chariot where they had a wonderful Bible study. I imagine that Bible study might have been very similar to the study Jesus gave to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, where He began with
"Moses and all the Prophets and expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27).
We don't know how long that Bible study in the chariot was, but we do know that by the end the Ethiopian official declared, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37) and was baptized.
Friends, today there are thousands of people like the Ethiopian official who are searching for truth. They may have heard things about the Bible, or perhaps are trying to read it, but without understanding. We are told, "A large number of precious souls are groping in darkness, yet longing and weeping and praying for light" (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 65).
Are you willing to go to bring them light, helping them to understand the truth found in the Scriptures, as Philip did? Just as the Lord provided everything Philip needed to reach the Ethiopian man, He will provide everything you need to help people understand the Scriptures.
The world church emphasis for this coming Sabbath is: "Reach the World through Bible Study." Led out by the General Conference Department of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries, this is a wonderful opportunity to utilize the many excellent resources available to enhance our own understanding of the Scriptures, particularly through the Sabbath School, where we study the Bible each week, and through offering Bible studies through Bible correspondence schools, online Bible studies, as well as small group and individual studies. For more information, I encourage you to visit: sabbathschoolpersonalministries.org
May God bless you as you partner with Him in reaching the world through Bible study!
Let's pray together. Father, thank you for the beautiful example of Philip. Thank you for the way Philip responded in a very powerful way and thank you for the open heart of the Ethiopian treasure. Lord, help us to find those people whose hearts are open to your word. Use us to be able to share with people the mighty and powerful word of God that will bring people into a fuller understanding of the times in which we’re living, and that the Three Angels’ Messages are to be proclaimed with power. Lord we, ask for the falling of the latter rain so that every one of us will be filled with heavenly power to proclaim the message of salvation, just as Philip did. God bless our Sabbath Schools. Bless the outreach and personal ministries. Be with our Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department on every level, and especially in the local church. Thank you that we have the Word of God to study/ Help us to share it with others, as we come close to Christ's soon return. We ask all of this in the powerful name of the one who provided us with the written Word. We’re asking all of this in the name of the living word, Jesus Christ. Amen.