Sunday, May 30, 2010

Habakkuk 1:5 - A Prophecy for Today

"Look at the nations... watch... be utterly amazed..."

I've been reading this book this week, called Kingdom Without Borders, about the Christian church as it thrives in different parts of the world. It's been so interesting to learn about different places and people groups, and it thrills me how missionaries are being sent out from all sorts of places, the common goal and desire being to spread the gospel to every nation. Latin Americans are going to North Africa, Africans and East Indians are going deeper into the interior of their own countries, Chinese Christians are going to the Middle East. Have you heard of the Back to Jerusalem project? When I read about their beautiful vision and the even more beautiful way they are accomplishing it, I was utterly amazed.

The first verse of the book of James says that his target audience is "the twelve tribes scattered among the nations." After the Assyrian invasion and exile of the Israelites in the Old Testament, only two of the original twelve tribes continued - Judah and Benjamin - and the histories and fates of the other ten tribes were lost. This is certainly in line with the blessings Israel bestowed on his sons, but it made me wonder... what happened to those people? And if James wrote for the twelve tribes, had God revealed to him that there were still descendents of all the sons of Israel scattered across the globe? I researched a little and there are speculations that there are people groups in places like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Iran, and India who belong to these tribes by blood. Perhaps they are people who have, like the Samaritans in the New Testament, been absorbed by the cultures they find themselves in - who bow to gods of wood, bind themselves to heathen rituals, kill themselves and others in the name of Allah, not realizing the heritage they have or that they are part of God's Chosen. These are people that we must watch... and be utterly amazed.

The other night I was blessed by meeting a new friend and getting to talk to him over a cup of oolong tea. He told about his homeland of Cuba, the family that he had to leave behind there, his faith and trust in Jesus (not in religion), and his escape to America. He said that if Cubans can reach the shore of Puerto Rico without being caught, the Puerto Rican government will provide them with immigration papers. Imagine the relief and the joy when he and his raft-mates stumbled along the beach and met the Puerto Rican officials who gave them their own dinners and said, "You are not in Cuba anymore - you are free. Welcome." Imagine what it will be like to get to heaven - to the wedding feast of the Lamb - and hear Jesus say, "You are not bound to the world and its sin anymore - you are free!" Those Cuban Christians have a taste of what that will be like. Look at that nation - and the hundreds of others like it around the world - and be utterly amazed.

"...for I [God] am going to do something in your day that you would not believe, even if you were told!"

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