The events of the week remind us of the fragile nature of life in the Middle East. Our attention has been drawn to the hostilities, loss of life, and social upheaval in Israel, and the surrounding area. The Bible instructs us to pray for peace in Israel and we should pray.
Below I want to provide some thoughts that I hope can provide missionary insights about the Middle East.
1. All People Apart from Christ are Lost
As we read and watch the news, it is tempting to choose sides. Some have sympathies toward the Palestinians and others toward the Israelis. It is tempting to elevate our side and demonize the other. When we do this, we can forget that all people, regardless of nationality, religion, economic status, or political importance are lost apart from saving faith in Christ.As we read and watch the news, it is tempting to choose sides. Some have sympathies toward the Palestinians and others toward the Israelis...Neither side is especially righteous, and both need Christ. Click To Tweet
Neither side is especially righteous, and both need Christ. It is not bad for Christians to have political opinions. It is also not surprising that we disagree on matters like the Middle East. But one thing we must all agree on is that Muslims and Jews need Christ.
Romans 10:12-13: there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
2. This Entire Territory is in the 10/40 Window
The phrase “10/40 Window” is a missiological reference to the part of the world that sits between the 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator. It has been used to highlight the part of our globe that is most resistant to the gospel and the most dangerous for missionary activity. There are economic, social, political, and geographical challenges that have hindered the progress of the gospel. This part of the world is the least reached with the gospel and is also the hardest reach.
Why is this important?
It is a reminder that most of those living in these areas have little, if any, knowledge of Jesus. Historically, Christian missionaries have circled the globe but have had difficulty penetrating the darkness in these areas. As Great Commission Christians we must remind ourselves that there are billions of people on the planet who live where the Gospel is unknown. By God’s grace, we have heard, and like the Apostle Paul, we are “obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish.”
Romans 10:14-15: How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.
3. Missions and Evangelism are the Biblical Instruments for fulfilling Prophecy
Some claim that the events of the past week fulfill biblical prophecy. I don’t believe this is true. Now, don’t misunderstand me, if I am wrong, I am more than happy to admit my error that in heaven! But I don’t see any biblical evidence to support these claims.
On the other hand, Jesus is crystal clear that the one human activity we can engage in that does fulfill prophecy and contribute to his return is evangelism and missions. During his Olivet Discourse, Jesus was answering questions about the end of time. He says. “The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.” Now I don’t know everything this verse means. But I do know that it presents all of us with an important duty.Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms; our responsibility is to complete the task. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission. - George E. Ladd Click To Tweet
New Testament scholar George E. Ladd’s words on this passage are worth meditating on:
“If a relatively small minority of God’s people took this text seriously [Matt 24:14] and responded to its challenge, we could finish the task of worldwide evangelization in our own generation. God alone knows the definition of terms. I cannot precisely define who all the nations are. Only God knows the exact meaning of evangelize. He alone will know when that goal is fulfilled. But I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore, the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms; our responsibility is to complete the task. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.”1
In my experience, it is much easier to defend a political position or strike a pose on social media than it is to involve ourselves in the task of evangelism and missions. But this is our task, and as Great Commission people, we can do no less.
1Quote taken from Dr. Danny Akin’s graduation sermon on Great Commission Graduates, May 11, 2018.
Featured image from IMB.