Before I forget – MISSIONS PRAYER IS THIS THURSDAY (3/6) AT 7:00 PM IN THE PRAYER ROOM.
I hope your enjoying these posts regarding unreached peoples, and the places in scripture that point to God’s heart to reach them with the gospel. I know the posts are long, but I think it is a very important topic, and it warrants a healthy, fair, look at these verses. To start with what I left with in the last post…..In Exodus 19:6, the Lord calls Israel a “Kingdom of Priests”, and I think the meaning behind that name gives much insight into what Israel was to be to the nations around them. In a sense I believe that Israel was to be the missionary, representing the True and Living God to the nations around them – after all that is what a priest does, he represents God to man. We see this in the plagues given to Pharaoh in Egypt right before the deliverance of God’s people. Each one of the those plagues had to do with the things that the Egyptians worshipped as gods (ie. The Nile river, cows etc.) The purpose was to show the Egyptians that Jehovah is the True and Living God, and there is none other. And it worked. We read in Exodus 12:38 that as the Israelites we leaving Egypt following the passover, that “a mixed multitude also went up with them”, meaning Egyptians that saw the God of Israel, and all that He had done, and began to follow Him, leaving Egypt with the Israelites. And when Jethro (the father-in-law of Mosses) comes to bring Mosses his wife Zipporah and their sons in Exodus 18, after hearing all that the Lord had done to Egypt, and Pharaoh, he replies by saying “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods..” . He then brings a burnt offering and sacrifices to the Lord. What an awesome example of our God being a missionary God – by His mighty acts Egyptians came to know Him, and Jethro a Midianite worships the True, and Living God.
But we were supposed to talk about Paul for this post. I can give you many different references in which Paul points us to his “all nations” theology, but I will only talk about a couple in this post. The first is in Romans 15. This chapter gives us remarkable insight on Paul’s heart, and passion for unreached peoples. In verses 8 and 9, we read that Christ became a servant to the circumcised (his purpose in coming to the world) in order that 1. He would confirm the promises given to the patriarchs (Gen. 12:3), and 2. That the gentiles (ta ethne – NATIONS), might glorify God for His mercy. And to support what he just wrote, Paul gathers four O.T. verses that speak the same type of language regarding the ethne – and God’s plan for them.
“Therefore I will praise you among the nations (ethnesin), and sing to your name.”
10And again it is said, “Rejoice, O nations (ethne), with his people.”
11And again,”Praise the Lord, all you nations (panta te ethne)and let all the peoples extol Him.”
12And again Isaiah says “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the nations (ethnen); in him will the nations (ethne) hope.”
If you look up each of these references in their O.T. location the Hebrew word “goyim” is found meaning people groups, not just gentile individuals. Secondly, in the same chapter, Romans 15:18-21, we see another fine example of Paul’s mindset regarding the gospel going out to unreached people groups.
18For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
Jerusalem to Illyricum stretches from southern Palestine to northern Italy, and Paul says that he has fulfilled the gospel in that entire area. That is an amazing statement. What did he mean by that? Certainly everyone in that entire area did not hear the gospel in 10 to 15 years of ministry. And we know that Paul still knew that work needed to be done in those areas because he left Timothy in Ephesus, and Titus in Crete. Paul was set on going to people who have never heard ! He saw the O.T promises of the nations being blessed, and he knew that his calling was to go to the gentiles, and more than that, to people groups. In Acts 13:46-47, Paul quotes Isaiah 49:6 as his calling after the Jews received not the gospel. “I have set you to be a light for the gentiles (ethnon – nations) that you may bring salvation to the end of the earth”. In the Isaiah passage that Paul quotes, the word we have in Acts 13:47 as “gentiles” is the word “nations”, in Hebrew the word is again goyim, meaning “people group”. I would encourage you guys to read through Romans 15, and think about some of these things – it also contains a great verse regarding raising support to go out into the field ! In my next post we’ll wrap up all of this with a couple passages in the gospels.