720. God's Heart for the Unreached

by Allan Starling

Picture the whole world on death row, listening for the footsteps of the executioner. But God has a plan.  

Let’s take time to learn about the unreached – those who have never heard the Gospel. Missiologists describe them variously as unreached, unevangelized, or least-reached. We want to know what God thinks about missions. Naturally, we must turn to the Bible.

What does God think about sinners?

The Bible explains both the judgement and the reprieve in one verse--Romans 6:23. The judgment is simple: “the wages of sin is death.”  But,mercifully, the repreive follows: “The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” It’s like the call from the Governor to the condemned man, offering a pardon. 

But has God always felt this way? Running though the Bible from Genesis to Revelation are evidences of God’s desire that “he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Pet. 3:9). In other words, he is a missionary God. In his book, Mission in the Old Testament, Walter Kaiser demonstrates that God’s missionary mandate runs through the entire Old Testament.

Here are a few of the many examples in scripture.

God’s judgment and mercy

When God sent a flood to judge the world, he allowed Noah and his family to escape. He did the same for Lot when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. When he caused the walls of Jericho to fall, he allowed Rahab to be spared. Ultimately, he allowed Jesus to die, “so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God’s missionary plan

God needed a way of proclaiming his redemptive message so he chose humans. One of the first was Abraham. God told him, in effect, that he would bless him, protect him, and cause his tribe to flourish. At the same time, he wanted Abraham to be a blessing to the other groups around him and eventually the whole world. We can trace Jesus ancestry back to Abraham.

When the Lord chose Abraham to be a missionary, He told him six things:

1. “Leave your native country … and go to the land that I will show you."
2. “I will make you into a great nation.”
3. “I will bless you.”
4. “I will … make you famous.”
5. “You will be a blessing to others.”
6. “All the families on earth will be blessed through you”

Abraham is one of the most famous names in the Old Testament. He is important to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. You can read more about this in Genesis chapter twelve.

God Made Jonah a Missionary

The Ninevites were a godless, cruel people, but the Lord sent Jonah to preach to them. Jonah refused, sailed in the opposite direction, and God had to use drastic measures to put him back on course. The people repented and God spared them. This greatly annoyed Jonah. He explained why he had run away. “I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people” (Jonah 4: 2).

The Psalms Emphasize World Missions

God demonstrates his missionary heart throughout the Psalms. For instance: “May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise you, O God. … Let the whole world sing for joy … our God, will richly bless us” (Psalm 67:1-6). “Tell everyone about the amazing things he does” (Psalm 96:3).

The Prophets Taught Israel about Missions

The prophets not only foretold the coming of the Messiah, they reminded Israel that God wanted to bless all peoples. “Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! … Make known his praise around the world” (Isa. 12:3-5). “I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, … I will … fill them with joy in my house of prayer ... my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations … I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel” (Isaiah 56:7).

The New Testament is a Missions Manual

The New Testament is full of references to missions, and the Book of Acts takes us on some mission trips. Revelation says, “Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

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