Daily Lesson for Sunday 10th of December 2023
We read that Jesus took His disciples from Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34) “and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon” (Matthew 15:21, NKJV). Why did He take them from Galilee to these pagan places? He leads His disciples on this field trip into the borders of these foreign regions so that they can learn, on location, what they could not learn so easily in Galilee. He wanted to teach His disciples lessons that would help prepare them for their calling to reach all people groups, including urbanites.
Read Judges 3:1-6, 1 Kings 5:1-12, and 1 Kings 11:1-6. How do these texts help us understand a bit of the background of these cities?
From Judges 3:1-6, we see that these ancient peoples were used by God to test the Israelites’ faith. Unfortunately, God’s people failed that test, too, at least in this instance: “And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods” (Judges 3:6, NKJV). Thus, right from the start, these people were a stumbling block to Israel.
In 1 Kings 5:1-11, we can see the close relationship between the Sidonians and the Hebrews. Though on one level, the economic ties were mutually beneficial, no doubt the Hebrews were still negatively influenced by the paganism and idolatry of their trading partners.
1 Kings 11:1-6 reveals just how negative that influence eventually became: King Solomon married Sidonian princesses, who led him astray. “For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians” (1 Kings 11:5, NKJV).
Yet, despite the history of paganism and idolatry, and their negative influence on the chosen nation, Jesus still brought His disciples to these places. In this way He initiated them in cross-cultural urban mission, confronting their bias and bigotry, and modeled for His followers wholistic urban mission to all cultures and nationalities.
Many challenges face the Adventist urban missionary, among them include health and environmental concerns. Others would include the high cost of living, racism, bigotry, nationalism, and constraints on religious freedom and expression. Nevertheless, despite these obstacles, we must work for the cities.
What can you do to help those involved in urban ministry?