O sing to the LORD a new song,
For He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
The LORD has made known His salvation;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.
This scripture was read at the Christmas Eve service our family attended. I was struck by the “all nations” theme – a good reminder that Jesus, as Saint Paul writes, “is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe” (1). Thus the very best gift anyone could ever receive is the gift of eternal life.
A few of applications follow:
- As Psalm 98 directs, we have something to celebrate! “Sing to the Lord.” “Sing for joy.” It is fitting that our celebration of Jesus’ incarnation involves the singing Christmas carols.
- As those who have fixed our hope on the living God (2), we also have a work to complete. “That is why we labor and strive” (3) to disciple all nations (4).
Or in other words, we have something wonderful to celebrate (5) and a message of hope to communicate, not only at Christmas time, but throughout the entire year.
1. 1 Timothy 4:10c NIV
2. 1 Timothy 4:10b NIV
3. 1 Timothy 4:10a NIV
4. Matthew 28:18
5. Psalm 98:1, 4-6,8
Missionary advocate, Oswald J. Smith (1889 – 1986), observed, “We talk of Christ’s second coming when half of the world has never heard of the first.” Since Smith’s time, we’ve made progress in spreading the Glad Tidings of Christmas Joy. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, 29.2% of the world is now unevangelized (1). Also the distribution of Christians around the world has shifted dramatically since Smith’s day. This missiographic from GMI illustrates the distribution of Christians and also shows how the joyous message of Christmas is spreading (2).
Does anything here surprise you?
The “brightest” country is Kenya, having 385 watts. The United States is in 14th place with 208 watts. Did you see that sub-Saharan Africa is “brighter” than North and Central America? Southern Asia, on the other hand, (India and the surrounding countries) have less than half the light of any other region of the world. The darkest countries tend to be in Northern Africa and Central Asia. These are the areas where it is most necessary to spread the message of Christmas joy.
Smith’s point is still thought provoking. It is right for us to look for Jesus’ second coming, when so many have never heard of his first? Jesus himself spoke to this point. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 ESV). Until all the peoples in the world hear the Christmas message, Jesus will not come again. What, then, are you doing to spread the message of Christmas joy around the world?
If you feel led to pray for these “dark” countries, you might find the prayer guide that I wrote for the Turkic Window useful, which begins with Who are the Turkic Peoples and Why Pray for Them?