People of the Islands

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, September 1, 2015 0 comments

by Bill Seng

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” ~Romans 10:14-15

The working out of God’s plan is absolutely magnificent! When it is considered that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and is present everywhere all of the time, one might conclude that God, therefore, will himself bring everyone to repentance. The funny thing is that this statement is true but can be misleading. Rarely ever does God bring someone to repentance without using a human being to deliver his message.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” It is hard for a country that has been immersed in the blessings of God to understand what a blessing it is to be brought out of the darkness of a wicked land into the glorious riches of the church. Israel had embraced God’s law and his love for quite a while. But when their relationship with God became nothing more than a religion, people started to go astray in horrifying numbers. They turned away from their God to foreign false gods. In Isaiah 51, it states that, “The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm” (51:5). The islands seem to be referring to, aside from the literal meaning, people that had never heard the message of God, people who are secluded from the rest of the world.

I tend to think of the Native American community in this regard. They were in America when this prophecy was being written. They had never heard the message of the one true God. Even though many people glorify their former way of life, it was a brutal existence. There was no peace and there was no security. Even though the native people of America suffered great loss at the hands of the settlers, they also heard the Gospel and many turned to the true God to be their peace. Missionaries back then saw the atrocities that were being carried out against the natives. They were enslaved, their women were raped, and their children were slaughtered. This is not so much characteristic of what the settlers did, but those who came to America to reap the benefits of its hidden wealth. When missionaries rose up against this brutality, they were criticized, threatened, and even forgotten (in a historic sense). What is not considered by historians is that these missionaries made an eternal impact on those they reached. No doubt, they were beautiful in the eyes of those they were reaching.

These imperfect prophets and missionaries are often the vessels God uses to lead people to repentance. He could use people that are nice to look at, eloquent, and charming but his purposes are not served as well when those who are attractive are attracting people. His purposes are better served by the lowly. He could even reveal himself through a cyclone of fire to everyone if he chose to. He does not do that. He chooses to use people to convey his message because it is through people that it can be seen that the weakness of God is greater than mankind’s power.

The above passage puts it clearly. Someone must teach the message so that people can believe it. It is through the preaching of the Gospel that the Holy Spirit makes the truth clear to the individual. A person can harden his or her heart against the work of the Spirit, but the Spirit works powerfully when the Word is preached. If the Word is not preached, people cannot hear. If people cannot hear, it follows that they cannot believe. God’s specific identity can only be revealed when people spread the message about who God is.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder… Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:2-3, 5-6). You know who he is and if you do not, you know now. He is Jesus. You never forget the person who brought you the good news because they have impacted you in a way that no one else could in their own power. God works through us to touch lives and he works in us to impact us.

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