The Preaching of the Early Church: The Gospel in Isaiah

The Preacher Sent

Philip was preaching to large crowds. They had listened with rapt attention to the message. Yet this preacher received word to “Get up and go” (Act 8:26). What was next for the successful evangelist? He was sent to … the desert, a far cry from the bustling villages of Samaria. There would be no crowds gathered in the desert. His audience there would consist of a grand total of one man.

Why would God send Philip away from the crowds for just one man? The answer is simple and yet profound: God was interested in that one man. The Bible teaches us about a God who is interested in individuals; that one soul is worth more than all the world (Mar 8:36). Whether it be a tax collector in a tree (Luk 19) or an Ethiopian treasurer in the desert (Act 8), God is interested in individuals. God is interested in you as well.

The Treasurer Spent

This Ethiopian treasurer was a high-ranking official for the queen. He had fame, success and influence. However, there was an emptiness that prominence could never fill. He even tried Jerusalem’s religion, which offered many rituals but no fulfillment for his soul. He returned from his journey – spent. This world had nothing that could satisfy his heart.

This world cannot satisfy you, either. We were made for God, and sin has severed us from God (Isa 59:2). We may try to find fulfillment in pleasure, success, or even religion, but all are empty without God. This emptiness can never be filled until our relationship with God is reconciled; and in order for such a miracle to take place, our sins must be justly dealt with.

The Scriptures’ Dent

The treasurer returned home with Isaiah’s prophecy in hand, and what a treasure the treasurer had found. He was reading about Someone described as a “slaughtered sheep” and a “silent lamb” (Act 8:32-33). In order for this Scripture to make a deep, lasting impression, he must first understand it. It was just at that time that the preacher happened to be sprinting by his chariot. He asked the preacher for help: “Who is the prophet speaking about?” Philip gladly “preached unto him Jesus.” The same Jesus who had been shamefully crucified was the Deliverer promised in that old scroll.

Jesus had come to reconcile the broken relationship between God and man by dealing with our sin. He did so by suffering in our place for our sins (Isa 53:5-6). The treasurer heard about this Jesus, and he understood that the sins that separated him from God, causing the deep emptiness of heart, were dealt with completely by the slaughtered Lamb. He was raised from the dead, proving that God was satisfied with His suffering. By faith in Jesus, based on His Word, the Ethiopian was reconciled to God!

The Ethiopian was baptized to express his new relationship with God through Christ. But then what? Well, your guess is as good as mine. The Bible concludes his story simply: A preacher was sent to this treasurer who was spent, and once the Scriptures made their dent, “he rejoicing … went” (Act 8:39)! There is always joy when one trusts Christ. You can have this joy as well!