Continued from NOW IS THE TIME. This post focuses on, Scripturally, Genesis 19:30-38; Matthew 9:18-38; and historically, missionary William Carey.
Lot has left the city of Zoar, because he feared the people there. We find him now living in the mountains, alone with his two daughters.
The daughters suddenly realize their situation and get desperate. “Hey,” the older says to her younger sister, “There are no men around here – anywhere – for us to marry so we can have children to preserve our family line!”
A worried concern wrinkles the women’s brows. In extreme anxiety, the older sister proposes an idea to the younger; she agrees.
On consecutive nights the daughters of Lot get their father drunk with wine. The first night the older daughter sleeps with her father. The younger sister does the same the next night.
Each sister, pregnant by her father, bears a son. The older sister gives birth to Moab, father of the
Moabites. The younger gives birth to
Ben-ammi, father of the Ammonites.
|Moab mountain range viewed |
from Jordan Valley
|Ammon and its neighbors, |
around 830 BC
Two nations, products of incest, become Israel’s greatest enemies, whom Israel never defeats. Yet, despite the sinful act by the desperate daughters of Lot, the blessing of Abraham for all ‘nations’ (peoples) is not defeated: From Moab comes Ruth, the great-grandmother of Israel’s great king David. From David ultimately comes Jesus, God’s Son, who displayed such great love for all ‘nations’ (peoples) despite their sin.
God is concerned for much more than the physical. His greatest concern is for the desperate condition of fallen humanity (broken fellowship) – desiring much more to restore the relationship between Him and mankind.
We zoom centuries ahead in time to the New Testament era, and see Jesus confronting desperate people:
A leader of a synagogue whose little girl has died; yet, he believes that Jesus can bring the child to life again.
A woman who has suffered from a hemorrhage (constant bleeding) for twelve years; but still, she believes, “If I can touch [the fringe of] his robe, I will be healed."
Two blind men who believe Jesus can give them sight.
A demon-possessed man who is brought to Jesus; Jesus casts out the demon, to the amazement of the crowd (yet to the scorn of the Pharisees – not all people will see a miracle as a blessing from God).
Indeed, Jesus meets them all in their desperation – their distress – healing their physical infirmities. He, the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), is able to meet us in our desperate circumstances as well, whatever they may be.
However, Jesus is concerned for much more than the physical. His compassion is for the restoration of fallen humanity (broken fellowship) to a right relationship, a "holy love affair," with the holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is Jesus as He sees the crowds (of His day and ours) “confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Once again zooming ahead – to Northampton, England. Born here in 1761 is William Carey (see
Ruth A. Tucker: From Jerusalem toIrian Jaya). He, too, is to become a man who has to trust God through desperate times – through struggles and distressing circumstances.
Son of a weaver, Carey works on a loom in his family quarters. Problems with allergies prevent him from pursuing his dream of becoming a gardener. At 16 years of age he is apprenticed to a shoemaker. Through the witness of another apprentice he is converted to Christianity, and actively associates himself with the Baptist Dissenters. He devotes his leisure time to Bible study and lay ministries.
Before the age of 20 Carey marries his master’s sister-in-law, Dorothy. She is more than five years older then he and illiterate. A “mismatched marriage,” as Tucker puts it, is met with hardship and poverty. Carey nevertheless continues his studies and lay preaching, pastoring two small Baptist churches while continuing to make shoes.
Carey reads Jonathan Edwards’ account on the life of David Brainerd (see SATISFACTION GUARANTEED) and the journals of explorer James Cook. His heart is stirred toward the biblical mandate of spreading the GoodNews of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Yet, even while he is presenting this idea before a group of ministers, it is rejected. “Sit down,” they respond. “When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.”
Undaunted, Carey continues presenting his case for worldwide missions, challenging audiences from Isaiah 54:2-3, he challenges them with his now famous quote, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
Eventually, with the formation of the Baptist MissionarySociety, Carey offers himself for missionary service. In March of 1793, he sails for India, accompanying the Society’s first appointee, John Thomas, and Thomas’ wife and daughter. Carey’s eight-year-old son, Felix, journeys with them.
In India William Carey faithfully pursues the task that God had “planned for [him].” And He does so for all who put their trust in Him. As the apostle Paul has written: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago [even through desperate times – struggles and distressing circumstances]” (Ephesians 2:10; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:4.)
“[Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘the harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest [and who delights in our participation with Him in His cause for the peoples of the world]; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’”