There’s a scripture in Matthew 24 that states:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Mt 24:14)
Matthew 24 is entirely aimed at the Jews and it is entirely aimed at the Time of the Tribulation. While we are bound to fulfill Jesus’ command of the Great Commission (Mt 28:16-20), the end coming is not contingent on man’s efforts to share the Gospel. God does that. First He sends 144,000 supernaturally sealed Jews to evangelize (Rev 14:1-3), then He sends the Two Witnesses to preach in Jerusalem and all the world sees and hears them (Rev 11:1-14), and finally,
“And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. (Rev 14:6 NLT) THIS is the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14.
That said, I was thinking about the famine of the Word as I wrote the essay yesterday on Amos’ prophecy (here). There will be a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. (Amos 8:11) After the rapture, there will be bibles around, but no one to explain the Good News, because all the real preachers will be gone as well as the believing Christians. But even worse, are there places that don’t have a real and trustworthy bible? Is there a nook or cranny of the world that is missing access to the printed Word? And there is the answer:
Praise Him! The Gideons have reached every nation with a bible. (Or almost all nations, depending on which nation-count you accept). There are variously counted 192, or 194 or 195 nations in the world. There are 192 nations in the UN. The Gideons International has just delivered bibles to the 192nd nation!
Gideon Country Number 192
“With thanks and praise to God we are excited to announce Gideon country number 192—the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced “KEER-ah-bhass”). The ministry was organized in Kiribati on September 1, 2010, with 7 new Gideons and 5 new members of the Auxiliary. Kiribati is a nation of 33 islands, scattered over an expanse of ocean equivalent to the size of the continental US. Tarawa is the capital, and is located roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Twenty-one of the 33 islands are inhabited. You might recognize the names “Christmas Island” (the largest coral atoll in the world), or “The Gilbert Islands,” which was the country’s name prior to attaining independence in 1979. Some of you might also know that during WWII, some of the islands were seized by Japan, and the island of Tarawa was the site of a major battle. Today, the country is free and self-governing with an economy based largely on tourism and marine agriculture. In fact, Kiribati is home to the South Pacific’s largest marine reserve. Kiribati is the newest addition to Region 7. The population of the country is about 112,000—of which 36% are Protestant. Per capita GDP is about $1,500, and the potential for Scripture distribution in this country is estimated to be 6,000 copies annually. Please keep the people of Kiribati, and especially our new Gideon camp, in your prayers. Please pray for open doors and open hearts as God’s Word is distributed and the news of Jesus Christ is shared.”
There is almost nothing as important as owning or having access to the printed word of God. For those needing salvation, it could be an important stepping stone on the path to the cross. For new believers who need to grow into meat and away from milk (1 Cor 3:1-3) the bible is that meat, and also their armor. For mature believers, a bible is the balm and encouragement we need during rough times. That there are people such as the Gideons dispersing bibles and being available to answer questions is a praise and a wonderful encouragement to me. That they have reached their 192 country is a huge praise to Him!
We can pray for the Gideons as they continue their ministry where, on average, more than two copies of God’s Word are distributed per second; and over one million Bibles and New Testaments are distributed every 4.5 days. Soon and very soon, the promised famine of hearing the Word of God will be upon the world, but at least there will be His Word available to read. And that could be the difference in eternal destiny for some.