“If you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, or as the cream of your church, or because of your medical degree, or for the service you can render the African church, or even for the souls you may see saved, you will fail. Remember, the Lord has only one purpose ultimately for each one of us, to make us more like Jesus. He is interested in your relationship with Himself. Let Him take you and mould you as He will; all the rest will take its rightful place.”

Helen Roseveare

TODAY’S READING: Psalms 50, 53, 60, 75

Psalm 67 employs an interesting use of God’s name that is used similarly in the psalms of today’s reading. Instead of the covenantal name between Israel and God (Jehovah/Yahweh/YHWH), the title Elohim is used. In most Bible translations YHWH is translated “Lord” (in capital letters) and Elohim is translated “God.” Walter Kaiser explains that Elohim is the name used when one must express the Lord’s relationship to all people, nations, and creation.[1] The sentiment of God’s missionary heart expressed in the Psalms is the same theme started in Genesis with the blessing of Abraham. It is the chose people of God praying/singing:

May God be gracious to us and bless us fellow Israelites. May he increase our families, making them large and spiritually prosperous. May our crops increase and produce bountifully and our flocks show marked enlargement. May all of this and more happen so that the nations may look on us and say that what Aaron prayed for, and by way of God’s blessing, has indeed occurred. The very bounty of God demonstrates that God has blessed us. Accordingly, may the rest of God’s purpose come to pass as well, that in the blessing of Israel all the nations of the earth might be drawn to receive the message of God’s salvation as well.[2]

This is the biblical message of prosperity—not wealth to be lazy, selfish, and indolent, living lives removed from the poor and the lost, but wealth of the world to use on mission for God. Psalm 50 states that the rising son of the fire of God will come out of Zion and go into the whole earth judging all the people (v. 1–4), and that every beast of the forest, the cattle on a thousand hills, all the birds of the mountains and wild beasts of the field are His (vv. 10–11). God looks across the world to find those He can trust with wealth, those who realize the money is to be applied for the glory of God among every nation. For not only is the wealth of all creation God’s, so are the peoples. Psalm 60 states God’s universal authority: “You have made the earth tremble” (v. 2). Then God speaks: “Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the helmet for My head; Judah is My lawgiver. Moab is My washpot. Over Edom I will cast My shoe; Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me” (vv. 7–8). This psalm was written just after David defeated the Syrians and the Jordanians. Evidently, God’s cattle on a thousand hills are to be used to win over the thousands of unreached peoples to His heart.

The blessings of God—wealth, resources, and power—to the people of God are given for the same reason today as they were when the Psalms were written. The people of God are not blessed because we are better than others. “God looks down from heaven at the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one” (53:2–3). The people of God are blessed so that the nations might know the ways of God in the earth, so that the ends of the earth would fear Him. It stunned the Israelites and it should stun us: Any wealth we have is for God’s glory and goodness to be revealed among all peoples. Kaiser links this physical blessing to the spiritual:

The same power and presence of God that had brought material increase was now available for the spiritual increase that would visit all the nations and peoples on earth. The psalmist was not just mouthing empty words or hyping pious-sounding concepts that no one expected anyone to do anything about it. The psalmist and the revealing word of God expected the people of Israel to experience a real change in their lives He wanted them to be the agents through which the blessing of God would come to all the peoples on earth. That was the only way they could join in the refrain and fulfil the prayer and wish that “all the peoples might praise” God as their God too.[3]

There are 16,000,000 Azerbaijani Muslims in Iran who are spiritually poor—that’s more than all the Azerbaijani in Azerbaijan! God has given wealth to His people for the very specific reason that it be used to help them become spiritually rich. If God has given you physical riches, He did not do it so you retain them for yourself and your children. Rather, He did it that you use them to help Him bring His lost Azerbaijani children home.

[1] Kaiser, Jr., Walter C. Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2000. 30.

[2] Ibid. 31.

[3] Ibid. 33.

Prayer Focus: Iran (85 UPGs)

Today’s Unreached People Group: Azerbaijani, Azeri Turk
Population: 16,140,000
Language: Azerbaijani, South
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.15%
Estimated Workers Needed: 323

[Source: Joshua Project]

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