First of all apologies to my regular readers (I think there are ten of you know. 😉 ) I have been remiss and have not written as much lately as I had been earlier. I wish I could say that I had a great reason. I don’t. I have been reading along in our chronological reading plan and am schedule, just not motivated to write. One of the problems (causes might be a better word) is that I actually have real work to do and it is getting to be a bit of challenge (good things in light of “I hate my work, seriously, I hate my work”)
Lately we have been reading Judah’s pre-exile minor prophets. Today specifically I was reading Zephaniah and this little segment of one verse jumped out at me…
Zephaniah 2:11 (NLT)
11 The Lord will terrify them
as he destroys all the gods in the land.
Then nations around the world will worship the Lord,
each in their own land.
While the context of the verse is in the middle of a prophecy for Moab and Ammon, it still stuck me as something worthy of mention. “Then nations around the world will worship the Lord.”
This phrase was written around 2600 years ago. To the people of Judah at this point in history the world was not much bigger than the Mediterranean and the Middle east. They had not heard of China, England, South Africa, Chile, Korea, Guatemala, Russia, Australia, Netherlands or even the United States. Judah basically knew about the world that was within a thousand miles of itself. Now one could say that the nations mentioned in the verse were only the nations that Judah knew of. But I think differently. I think that it is God speaking through the prophet Zephaniah he could have been speaking about all the nations of the world today.
About 600 years later Jesus also shared a world view, a view of nations beyond Israel, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Matthew 28:16 – 20 (NIV)
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
A little bit later Jesus after Jesus’ resurrection the Jews that were near him thought that Jesus had come to fulfill the prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel after the exile. Jesus shares with them that it is not yet time for the restoration of Israel. He shares that there is an important job to do first….
Acts 1:6 – 8 (NIV)
6So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
I have been very excited to be a part of the International Baptist Church of Eindhoven. It has been our church home for the last 3 years. Hopefully, it will be our church home for as long as we are here in Eindhoven.
Why is my little church so exciting? Why does it encourage me to go worship and fellowship there each Sunday? Why does it excite me when I have my brothers and sisters from the church come to my house?
Because my church represents the fulfillment of that the promises and prophecies of God that all nations will hear of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. Every time I see someone from church I am reminded of God’s love for all nations. God has always know about the whole world. God has always known about all the people. God has always known about you and me. He was preparing thousands of years ago for people from many nations to come to our little church in Eindhoven Netherlands.
When I go to church on Sunday I sing, worship, praise God, pray with and fellowship with people from all over the word. I lead a men’s Bible study in my home and we have men attending from Chile, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Australia and the United States. That is 5 countries and 5 continents from 7 men. When I preach at church this coming Sunday there will be people from Netherlands, Germany, England, Belgium, Romanian, Switzerland, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Chile, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Russia, Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Australia, South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and others.
The first Christian that I ever met who was not an America was Lyall Bethel, from the Bahamas. He was a fun guy to know and today is still a friend pastoring a church in the Bahamas. That was back in 1982. It took another 6 years before I met another Christian from another country. Sure I had met American missionaries who had been to other countries and had told me about the people they were working with, but very few foreign interactions. As I grew in Christ and as I moved to new churches I met more Christians from other lands. But now I am really blessed – I worship with more people from other nations that I do from my own home land.
Every day I see God’s promises to reach all nations fulfilled in the faces of my brothers and sisters in Christ.