The momentary problem regarding the mission of God that presently exists today is darkness.
Since the dawning of the events in Genesis chapter 11, there has been a persistent problem among all people groups, and it exists still today. This problem began in seed-like form starting in Genesis chapter 3 but found its full blossomed culmination in the Babel event of Genesis 11. In the event of Genesis 11, God not only dis-associated Himself from this singular people group by confusing their one language into many. But because of their wickedness, He also disinherited them. By scattering them abroad, they were plunged into utter darkness, no longer to have access to the one true God. This event is ultimately what led to the problem that still exists today – people are living in darkness.
When we begin to read and understand the storyline of God’s mission starting in Genesis 12, we can see that the people of Israel could have been the remedy to the prevailing problem of darkness for the nations surrounding them. Instead, when Israel entered the promised land, they began to enjoy their privilege of being His but did not step into the position they were given by God to be the light to the nations. They looked to the nations, desiring to be among them in practice but ultimately became like them in purpose – empty, devoid of joy, and darkened in their own understanding and behaviors.
One could say the people of Israel exchanged their privilege of being the LORD’s people for the empty pleasures that surrounded them. In exchanging their privilege for empty pleasures they abandoned their position of being the only light for the nations residing in darkness. Consequentially, they lost the priesthood and inevitably lost the very presence of God in their midst. Darkness. They gave up their rights, their land, and ultimately their blessing of being His, all because they would not turn from their idolatrous worship. They were deceived in the mind, dismantled generationally, dominated by the nations surrounding them, and plunged into utter gloom and darkness (Isaiah 8:22).
According to Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 8, the plunging into utter gloom and darkness would eventually be Israel going into captivity at the hands of the Assyrian army. They would be captured and carried away into the domain of darkness. They would be scattered into the nations, shamefully placed in the servitude of foreign kings, and ultimately ruled not by the Lord but by the prince of darkness, the god of this world, satan himself.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the abundant measure of His grace, before they were carried away by the Assyrians, gave them hope in the midst of chaos. This hope would not just be for Israel but would be promised to all peoples living in all places, without distinction. God, through His prophet Isaiah, foretold of a time in which His people, although living in darkness, would one day see a great Light (Isaiah 9:1-2).
This Light would break forth in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, and after dawning on the faces of His people Israel first, this light would continue to spread until all peoples living in all the dark places, unto the ends of the earth would see and savor this great and glorious light as well. And there at His mission’s end, we will all finally see the blossomed culmination of what His mission produced in the lives of all peoples living in the darkness of the nations since Genesis chapter 11, a true unending and yet ever-increasing joy (Isaiah 9:3).
This joy for all peoples will be immeasurable, for it will only ever continue to increase. This joy will never have an end for it is guaranteed to never run out or be taken away.
The source of this joy, according to Isaiah, would not be through human affairs or wrapped up in political policies that constantly change with the seasons of time. No, this joy would be wrapped up in the coming of a savior, the son who would be born to be the king who sits enthroned forever. According to Isaiah 9:4-7, the promised son will come. He will end all oppression by defeating the oppressor and win the ultimate war. He will thereby stop all other wars and will rule and reign visibly forever. Concerning the increase of His kingdom, peace, and the welfare of His people, there will be no end. And the darkness that once prevailed among the nations will be no more, for where there once was darkness there will only be found light on the faces of men and joy in their hearts within.
The person not only responsible but the primary giver of this joy is Jesus Himself.
After years of living among the Maliyali and learning their language and culture to fluency, we began to meticulously prepare 54 lessons that span the distance between Genesis to Revelation. We developed a chronological storyline in order to teach the Maliyali people the greatest news ever. I remember after several lessons had been taught, one of our oldest men pulled me close and said,
“These mountains that are surrounding us have been covering us. Our parents taught us in the darkness, they didn’t know what was true. But now you all are digging us out. I am starting to see the light, the light is coming and I am able to see the truth for the very first time. Thank you.”
On the day when the Maliyali heard, understood, and by faith received the news of this exceedingly great joy of what Jesus had done, they said,
“That was my sin, He took my place. His blood spilled to remove my sin. He died to take my punishment. He did this for us because He loves us? This is too sweet. I am now His, He has gotten me back. He sent you six so that we who have been in the dark could come and be in the light. Thank you for coming to tell us, thank you God for getting us back, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
You see, it was Jesus who came in Matthew chapter 4 and shined the light in the darkness for the very first time. By stepping into the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (Matthew 4:13), He began His Father’s mission of bringing the light to the darkness (Matthew. 4:15-16) and joy to the emptiness of the nations, and in so doing fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-3. At the end of His first coming, He passes the privilege of blessing and the position of being a light in the darkness to us so that we would do likewise and bring the light of this exceedingly great news of abundant joy into the darkest of places that still remain. For darkness is but a momentary problem when we understand that He who has come is coming again. When he does return, satan, sin and death will meet their final end.
This joy that we now have because of Him is but a mere shadow of the unending yet ever increasing Joy we will receive when His mission finally ends.
The fulfillment of His mission will be for the unending and yet ever-increasing Joy of His people from all places. This joy will result in His blood-bought Bride surrounding His throne, worshipping Him forever. Therefore we tirelessly work for His mission’s end. As we long for its finish, we eagerly anticipate His return. For at the end of it all, we will finally get to see a clear picture of what we have labored for in this life. All things will be laid bare, and whatever we said no to, whatever we gave up or spent in order to see His mission accomplished will not just be totally worth it, but in seeing the very face of our eternal wellspring of Joy, Jesus Christ, we will unanimously say together, we should have given more.
I am absolutely convinced that the joy of His people both now and that which is to come will be the propulsion needed for the completion of His mission that remains for this generation to finish. Duty has won many to missions, but true joy makes all things, especially suffering, light, momentary and worth any and every sacrifice. Therefore we can boldly go, generously give, and be ever persistent in prayer; shouting the victory as we labor for Him among the nations that are still in the dark. For the Joy we have now, is but a shadow compared to the even greater joy we will have when we stand before Him and the mission finds its completion – the Joy of His people, fully, finally, and forevermore.
That is His mission and it ought to be our hearts’ ambition in this life as well. This task is big, but our God is greater! The dawning of light upon the nations in darkness is the dawning of the Joy of salvation to all who would receive the son, the everlasting King, our wellspring of unending and yet ever-increasing Joy: Jesus.