Bible Gemz 1352 - God's Perspective on the Borders of the Kingdom and Those we Miss (Acts 1:8)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The disciples were focused on the borders of Israel. Their hope was that the kingdom of Israel would be restored. Also that self rule or governance would return to Israel and they would no longer be subject to rule by another power. They probably even longed for a king to rule them again, hankering after the glory days of Israel when God had made it clear He was always and forever their King. I am sure they wanted to return to the peak of the Kingdom of Israel when the borders covered the largest amount of territory. God is still concerned with the maximum extent of territory but of human hearts, not the extent of land surface. God's focus is not Israel but the entire world He created.
A literal reading of this verse reveals something very interesting.
"but you will receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be witnesses of Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (LITV)
As I have spent the last 33 years since being called by God into this task, I noticed that we as individuals and as church treat this verse as though it was an either / or option. You choose which of these you wish to be involved with. As I have shared the Wycliffe vision, many church leaders have said, “Oh that is fine for you guys in Wycliffe to focus on the Bibleless peoples of the world. Our focus is our own backyard here in “Hobbiton”. Or maybe their vision extends beyond the backyard and into the regions they can see over the fence — all of Middle Earth. But what about the Ends of the Earth? What happens to that? Well, that is someone else’s responsibility, our responsibility is here in __________ ." No, that is not how this verse reads. This verse is a both / and not an either / or option. God’s word to those early disciples was, 'you will be involved in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the ends of the earth.' I firmly believe the correct interpretation of this verse is that we hold all levels in focus at the same time. God wants you to be a global disciple and not just focused on where you find yourself at the moment.
I can almost hear you telling me through the ethernet, 'that is ridiculous Ian. I am not omnipresent; only God can be omnipresent'. Ah ha, that is the secret. You can accomplish global coverage in and through the Holy Spirit. Through the power of prayer you can be involved everywhere. Yes, take care of where you have been planted. By all means, focus on the task or the localised geographic area God has put you in. But in the Spirit you can be involved everywhere lifting up your eyes to new horizons and areas that are ripe and ready for harvesting. Yes, not all of us can go to the harvest fields, but we can all pray for new areas with all kinds of prayer. A modern day Christian can be involved globally in ways that past generations could not. As we are fond of saying, we live in a global village. The world is shrinking and places don’t seem so far away now. Given the dimensions and power of the Internet, far flung places and people groups of the world have been brought close.
We need to be open and active in all four of these categories. God wants us to be able to focus on those immediately around us and be actively involved in our Jerusalem. Judea represents the next expansion of the circle from our immediate area. It may be a regional area, it may be a national setting. But whichever it is, we need at the very least, to pray for the regions immediately beyond, if not giving or going to them and being actively involved in reaching them with the gospel. At the same time we do that, we ought to be able to widen our vision to take in the whole earth. The whole earth is the Lord’s and all who fill it. It pleases God if we are concerned for His world in total. We know that the scope of His love is worldwide. He is not willing that any should perish and be lost for eternity. That thought should matter to us. The lost in the far flung parts of the earth should concern us just as much as those who are near at hand. Our heart should begin to be burdened with the concerns of our heavenly Father. We can sing songs like:
Give me eyes like your eyes Lord,
Give me hands like your hands Lord,
Give me a heart like your heart Lord.
Or listen to Sonic Flood’s song “A heart Like Yours"
Give me a heart like yours Give me a love for souls Give me a heart that weeps and cries Cause so many are gonna die Cause so many are gonna die without You Whatever breaks Your heart Let it tear me apart Hold me close enough to You That I am broken Whatever breaks Your Heart Let it break mine too Give me a heart like Yours Cause mine is unaware Give me a heart that’s pure as gold That’s soft as flesh Where once was stone
Let’s not be unaware of the world around us; so content in our bubble of complacency and provision that we miss the fact that the rest of the world is going to hell while we play. Make yourself aware of the issues that break God’s heart and learn to take them on board too. Be an intercessor who bothers to find out the details of what to pray to extend God’s Kingdom on earth. Not only should we be concernedfor those closest and those farthest away and all those in-between, but we should also take into account those who are neglected and overlooked. There is a lesson to be learned from the disciples experience in John 4 where we are told, “So Jesus left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now He had to go through Samaria . . .” (John 4:3-4). On a journey from Judea to Galilee the Jews bypassed Samaria. They wouldn’t be seen dead in Samaria. Galilee was known as the Granary Fields of Israel (The Ha Emech). There were two harvests a year separated by 4 months. Jesus says to the disciples, “You say four months more then harvest. I say, open your eyes and look at the fields, they are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). They missed the point. The disciples were so focused on the harvest in Northern Israel that they missed the openness of the Samaritans to the good news. Jesus talked about one facet of His being — the Fountain of Living Water. The disciples had the opportunity to engage the Samaritans on the other aspect of Jesus character — the Living Bread, but they chose to ignore it because "Jews don’t associate with Samaritans". Jesus then rebukes them by saying, "I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work and you reaped the benefits of their labour. . . Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” (John 4:38-39)
Don’t neglect any part of the harvest because of your pre-set attitudes. Don’t let the same be said of you, “I sent you to work . . . but others did the hard work.” The prime point of the inclusion of the Samaritans in this list of who we should include in our witnessing is that they are despised and neglected. There are still despised and neglected groups around you at this moment. Will you take time to seek them out and at least pray for them. But be careful, in praying for them God may well make you the answer to your prayer, and theirs. God’s focus on the Kingdom is all encompassing. He doesn't want any lost, especially because His workers wouldn’t go because there was a blockage in their thinking.
Do you know there is another reason for going to these neglected groups? It includes a benefit to you personally and not just them. I included the prime verse the other day in a Gemz on Acts. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matt 24:14.Do yourself a favour and love the downtrodden and despised. Ultimately you will usher in the Kingdom of God that much faster. Rather than sitting around discussing when He will come back, why not get your hands dirty and your heart involved and play a part in bringing the Kingdom sooner. Not then, NOW!
Only God can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, and trial into a triumph, a victim into a victory.
The biggest obstacles in our lives are the barriers our minds create. Jessica Anesia
As long as you medicate yourself with a toxic story, you'll always be stuck on the same porch! T. D. Jakes
We almost always see only what's wrong with other people and not what's wrong with ourselves.