Summary: The Ethiopian Treasurer in Acts 8 discovered God's treasure because he was willing to Look for something more, Listen to another point of view, and Leave his past behind. Expository. Alliterated. Custom PowerPoint is available if you e-mail me.
Discovering God’s Treasure
Scott R. Bayles, pastor (after Allen Webster)
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/5/2012
Dr. Williamson, a Canadian geologist, had been slipping along a rain-soaked road that led through Tanzanian’s back country when suddenly his Land Rover sunk to its axles in thick sludge. Pulling out a shovel, he began to dig his four-wheel drive out of the mud. After some time he uncovered an interesting-looking, pink stone. Being a geologist and naturally curious about rock formations, he picked it up. The more mud he removed, the more excited he became, but hardly believed what he saw. When the stone was finally clean, Dr. Williamson had found a diamond!
Any diamond would have been a surprise, but he had found the now famous giant pink diamond of Tanzania. That muddy stone sparkles today in the royal scepter of Britain, and Williamson is world renowned for his discovery—accidental though it was.
It was an interesting quirk of fate that the geologist stumbled upon one of histories great geological finds. Similarly, the Bible tells of a royal treasurer who found the greatest treasure of all. Jesus once said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field” (Matt. 13:44). That comparison came to life when an Ethiopian treasurer discovered that hidden treasure on a dry, dusty road leading back to Africa from Jerusalem. Let’s read the account of this treasurer’s discovery together:
An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get ready and go south to the road that leads down to Gaza from Jerusalem—the desert road.” So Philip got ready and went. On the road he saw a man from Ethiopia, a eunuch. He was an important officer in the service of Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians; he was responsible for taking care of all her money. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship. Now, as he was on his way home, he was sitting in his chariot reading from the Book of Isaiah, the prophet. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
So when Philip ran toward the chariot, he heard the man reading from Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
He answered, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” Then he invited Philip to climb in and sit with him. The portion of Scripture he was reading was this:
“He was like a sheep being led to be killed. He was quiet, as a lamb is quiet while its wool is being cut; he never opened his mouth. He was shamed and was treated unfairly. He died without children to continue his family. His life on earth has ended.”
The officer said to Philip, “Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about—himself or someone else?” Philip began to speak, and starting with this same Scripture, he told the man the Good News about Jesus.
While they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The officer said, “Look, here is water. What is stopping me from being baptized?” Then the officer commanded the chariot to stop. Both Philip and the officer went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away; the officer never saw him again. And the officer continued on his way home, full of joy. (Acts 8:26-39 NCV)
This is just one of many great stories we read in the book of Acts of how Jesus changed people’s lives. It seems like an amazing coincidence that this Ethiopian treasurer would stumble across the greatest treasure of all, but as we look closer at this story, we see that his discovery of Jesus was not nearly as accidental as Dr. Williamson’s discovery of the pink diamond. Why did he—of all the people in the world—find the treasure that day? How can we discover God’s treasure today? First of all, this treasurer was willing to look for something more.
As the story begins, this Ethiopian treasurer had gone to Jerusalem to worship and was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah on his way back. So this man had traveled roughly 1500 miles (one way) to worship in Jerusalem, and was still reading his Bible on the way home! Now, there’s an obscure command in the Old Testament (Deut. 23:1), which makes this man’s dedication even more impressive—because he was a eunuch, he had not even been allowed into the temple during the ceremonies. You could say that he rode three thousand miles just to sit in the foyer! He obviously knew God (as well as he could), but wanted more. He was seeking a deeper more intimate relationship. He was like a man at sunrise, tilting his manuscript to catch the first light, and as he read Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus, he was catching the first rays of the rising sun of Christianity.