ODJ: the desert road

March 24, 2013 

READ: Acts 8:26-40

An angel of the Lord said to [Philip], “Go south down the desert road” (v.26).

Apparently someone connected with Google has a sense of humour. In one recent Google Maps route from Japan to China, as expected, a long list of detailed directions populated the page. But if you scrolled down further, it told you to “kayak across the Pacific Ocean”. Following those instructions would have made for one long journey across the expansive body of water!

Acts tells of a man who was on a long journey and far from home. The “treasurer of Ethiopia,” a powerful member of the royal court, had “gone to Jerusalem to worship” (Acts 8:27). The treasurer began his trek home through the vast, rugged wilderness region when the Holy Spirit tapped Philip on the shoulder and told him to go find this Ethiopian on “the desert [or literally, the wild] road” (v.26).

The desert provides a description for the Ethiopian’s predicament in multiple ways: (1) He was travelling through a massive, harsh terrain; (2) He was 500 or more miles away from home; (3) He desired to be connected to Israel’s God, but he was an Ethiopian with geographic and ethnic barriers to Israel; (4) He was a eunuch, which meant that he could not be a full participant in Israel’s faith (Leviticus 21:17-23; Deuteronomy 23:1). The eunuch was far from his home on a mission to worship the God he desired to know and love.

When Philip found the Ethiopian on the desert road, the eunuch was reading Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah and was confused about its meaning (vv.30-34). Philip climbed into the Ethiopian’s carriage and “beginning with this same Scripture, . . . told him the good news about Jesus” (v.35). The good news was that God’s love reached out to the world—even to the eunuch. God found him in the desert. God finds us all in the desert. —Winn Collier

Read Isaiah 53, the text from which the eunuch was reading. What does this reveal about the way God comes after us?
Where is the wild or desert place in your life? How do you long for God to come and meet with you?