• Hope Beyond Crisis

Scattered

A very interesting observation is that this period of lockdown, social distancing and separation of the flock of God has seen a unique time of fellowship, love and unity among the scattered through Zoom, Skype and a range of platforms available to us.

The word scattered and scattered abroad as used in the New Testament have a few meanings and nuances. A glance at four instances where they appear will help us understand and appreciate that our Lord is in control of His universe today:

  • FAINT

[35] And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. [36] But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. [37] Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; [38] Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

(Matthew 9:35-38)

We see a few things happening in this ninth chapter of Matthew. Jesus miraculously heals a few people with a range of ailments. He also meets Matthew and calls him to the ministry.

The Lord Jesus travels extensively - cities, villages and worship places.

He notes one common feature in the masses. This is a global phenomenon!

In verse 36, they were-

  • Scattered abroad or thrown down with no further attention.

  • Fainted or weary and despondent or (harassed and helpless -NIV)

They desperately needed help and the Lord is moved with compassion. It is

not about their physical, bodily needs because He had already healed and performed other miracles -- verse 35 reminds us that Jesus healed every sickness and every disease.

But there was something eternal that had to be addressed immediately.

The souls were scattered, and faint and the disciples must be awakened to the reality that the harvest is ripe, but the labourers are few.

  • FALSE

[34] Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; [35] And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. [36] For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. [37] After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. [38] And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: [39] But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it…

(Acts 5:34-39)


The crowd plotted to get rid of Paul after his powerful testimony and preaching of Christ. Gamaliel the highly respected rabbi and teacher of Paul intervenes and tells the crowd to wait and listen. He gives two examples of false teachers and followers who just disappeared from the face of the earth.

In verse 36 scattered has the implication of 'to dissolve' or disappear.

In verse 37 'perish' and 'dispersed' used for Judas and his followers.

The advice of Gamaliel that the false will scatter without a trace and that, conversely, the work of God cannot be overthrown, is an unmistakable truth which continues to be manifested in the church of Jesus Christ today; the only hope in these bleak days.

  • FAITHFUL SERVANTS

[1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. [2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. [3] As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. [4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching ….

(Acts 8:1-4)


In verse 1 and 4, the word scattered is from the Greek diaspeirō or diaspora,

as we are familiar with.

Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word …

(Acts 11:19)


This scatter was ordained by the Lord and He even reminds the disciples before a cloud receives Him out of their sight.

[6] When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? [7] And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. [8] But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

(Acts 1:6-8)


Just before His ascension, the disciples were concerned about coming together as implied using very specific terms 'restore again' in verse 6.

The reply of the Lord Jesus in verse 7 and 8 was unexpected and yet profound.

It was not about coming together but about separation. It was about the scattered state of His faithful ones as witnesses to the uttermost part of the earth when the power of the Holy Spirit is experienced.

  • FOLLOWERS

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, [2] Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

(1 Peter 1:1-2)


The final appearance of scattered in the New Testament is in this first letter of Peter to the church - followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Strangers or pilgrims in a foreign or strange place and yet in intimate union and fellowship with the eternal God.

The diaspora or dispersed of the Lord God Almighty is seen initially with the Jewish nation. God had a purpose in this although we see it in the beginning as a punishment for disobedience. In the foreign land, they continued to be witnesses for the true God.

And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

(Esther 8:17)


Today some of us can identify with the Armenian diaspora, Huguenots from France and other groups of believers who are scattered around the world because of their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

But how about us?

Like the rest of the scattered faithful followers who made a great impact in the world, we are temporary residents in this world and our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We can however make every moment count as we continue to proclaim and publish this message of hope and everlasting life.

Daniel James

 

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