After making sure Jesus is the center our lives, Derek gets to the answer of his original question. God is waiting for a special people that are taken from every single tribe, tongue, people, and nation who have been washed in the blood of Jesus and made Him their center. Until that is complete, He will go on in spite of all the wickedness and suffering, because His one supreme aim is a people for His Son.
I’m very weak on the history of science but I do know enough to know that for many centuries men believed that the sun revolved around the earth because that’s the way it appears. Then I think it was a man named Copernicus, but forgive me if I’m wrong, who said, “No, it isn’t the way it seems. Actually, the earth revolves around the sun. We’ve got things wrong.” And for that, Galileo was almost put to death by the church, incidentally, that’s interesting. The church has not always been favorable to new discoveries.
I want to use that as a little illustration. See, much contemporary preaching is this, “God will meet your needs.” If you’re sick, He’ll heal you; if you’re poor, He’ll give you money, etc. That’s a mistake because what it produces is self-centered Christians. God is there to meet my needs. Now it is true that God does meet our needs but that is a totally wrong perspective. We are there to glorify God. God doesn’t revolve around us, we revolve around God. And if your life hasn’t got Jesus in the center, you’re off-balance, you’re really not in line with the purposes of God in your life. And if there are those here this morning who cannot honestly say, “Jesus is the center of my life, my life revolves around Him before anyone else—before my husband, my wife, my children, my job, my finances—Jesus is the center,” then you’re off balance. And very likely, you’re amongst those whom Paul described “as of all men the most miserable.” You’ve lost your vision of eternity.
Now I want to close with just one more beautiful thought. In Revelation 5, just a little further, in verse 9, the elders sang a new song to the Lamb, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for you were slain and have redeemed men to God by your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priest to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Notice that the redemption is out of every tribe, tongue (or language), people and nation. So, there has to be in the redeemed a representative from every tribe, people, language and nation. That’s one main reason why I am a firm supporter of the Wycliffe translators, because their aim is to get the Scripture translated into every human language. They still have about 2,000 languages to go, did you know that? There’s still about 2,000 languages that have no Scripture in them at all. I don’t work with them but I support them because they take God seriously. There has to be somebody there from every tribe, every language, every people, every nation.
I was wondering as I was sitting here how to explain the difference between a people and a nation. Let me give you an example, it’s very interesting, the Assyrians. They’re not living where Assyria was, that’s been taken over by Saddam Hussein who doesn’t belong there. But the Assyrians speak Aramaic and that was the first language that Jesus ever preached in, was Aramaic. It was the language used there in the land of Israel in His day. There are three million Assyrians in the world but they’re not a nation, they’re a people, but not a nation.. Until 1948 the Jews were a people but not a nation. So, there has to be at least one out of every people, nation, tribe and tongue.
So you know what God is waiting for? He’s waiting for that special people that’s taken from every single tribe, nation, people and tongue. And until that’s complete He’ll go on in spite of all the evil, in spite of all the wickedness, in spite of all the suffering, because His one supreme aim is a people for His Son. And because Jesus gave His life for every man, woman and child, there has to be at least one representative before the throne among the redeemed out of every kind and class of humanity.
Let me close by reading Peter’s own explanation of this. You’ll remember the question that I asked was, “Why does God tolerate for so many centuries the unbelievable evil that’s in the earth?” I have an experience now and then at night, I become aware of evil. Not some specific evil but just a general presence and power of evil. It is overpowering and I realize that’s what the world is like. I have one remedy which I’ll offer to you. When I realize that I say this, “I thank God I’m in Christ. No matter what evil there is, I’m in Christ.” But at times it has been almost overpowering to realize the evil in the world today. And it’s not going to decrease, it’s going to increase. Why is God waiting? Peter says in 2 Peter 3:9:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
What is God waiting for? He’s waiting for the elect, the ones He’s chosen out of every tribe, people, tongue and nation. And until there’s one at least He will not close the age.
If you want the age to close, do you know what you need to do? Commit yourself to reaching the unreached and teaching the untaught. That’s the most practical thing that any of us can do against the suffering that’s in the world today. God will not close the age until He has a special people for Jesus, redeemed by the blood, from every tribe, people, tongue and nation.
Now I’ve spoken about a problem that’s general but I think it would be right for me to come down to the individual. I want to suggest to you that there are some of you here this morning who are not living the way you ought to live. You’ve been touching the unclean things with your thoughts and maybe even in your actions. You cannot honestly say, “Jesus is the center of my life.” You’ve put other things before Him. Ruth and I love one another dearly, we work together continually, but Ruth is not number one in my life. Jesus is. I’m not number one in her life, Jesus is. That helps our marriage, it doesn’t hinder it. It helps it. Where people are self-centered it tends to break down a marriage.
I want to give an opportunity to those of you who want to change. In old-fashioned language, you want to repent, you want to change your mind. You’ve been living wrong. You haven’t had eternity in view. You haven’t had Jesus at the center. You’ve come to realize that this morning and you want to change. If that’s so, I would invite anybody that really wants to make a transaction with the Lord today on that basis to stand up, come out of their place and come down to the front. Remember why I’m asking you to come. I’m not saying you’re a wicked person but I’m saying that your life is out of balance. Jesus isn’t at the center. Today you want to make Him the center. You’ve lost the vision of eternity, you’ve just been living for the things of this time, this world.
Now you’re not coming to meet with Brother Prince, you’re coming for a fresh encounter with Jesus.