Opening Message by Shep. Dr. Samuel H. Lee
Hello! Good evening! Welcome to the 2009 European Summer Bible Conference. Let us turn to our neighbors and say, “Welcome!” “Nice to meet you!” We are so happy to be here.
THE HOPE OF GOD
Key verses : Exodus 19:5,6
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
We are gathered here in order to celebrate the historic 40th anniversary of UBF in Europe. The UBF overseas campus mission began with the arrival of three Korean nurses in Germany in June 1969, about forty years ago. God blessed the prayer, sweat and tears of our tent-maker missionaries and co-workers as their five loaves and two fish, and blessed the work of God in Europe abundantly. We render all the glory to God. We praise God! What is the theme of this conference? Yes, that’s right. It is “The Hope of God.” Hope is good and absolutely necessary. Man should have a hope. Because hope gives us the power, happiness, and meaning of life. But there is no true hope in the world. True hope is the hope of God. Exodus 19:5,6 tells us about the hope of God for the Israelites, for us and for the whole world. May God help us to find his great hope and accept it deep in our hearts through this conference.
After 430 years of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites were set free by the power of God. In the third month of their departure from Egypt, they arrived at Mount Sinai. There through Moses, God gave this message to the Israelites: “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” The whole world is God’s possession. Yet he says that, in particular, the Israelites will be his treasured possession. It means that they will receive God’s special care and love. Everyone cares for his own treasured possessions. He loves what is his own. He keeps it safe so that it may not get lost. Likewise, God considers us as his treasured possession – his special people. In the world we may not be special, but in Gods sight we are special people. Wau! Let us turn to our neighbors and say, “You are God’s treasured possession.”
Next, they will be a kingdom of priests for God. Look at verse 6. “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” A priest is one who prays with all his heart to God for the people. He delivers the word of life from God to the people. In short, he is a spiritual shepherd. There is no job in this world which is more valuable and important than that of a priest. What an amazing blessing it was for the slaves in Egypt to become priests who would save the whole world! God does not tell them just to be ‘priests’ but to be ‘a kingdom of priests’. This means that all Israelites will become priests. It is a national blessing. Finally, they will be a holy nation. Being ‘holy’ means being ‘distinguished’ or different.’ They are distinguished or different from others because they have the word of God and live according to the word of God, not following the sinful trend and culture of the world. So they will be gradually changed to resemble the character of God. Likewise, God called each of us as his priest and all of us as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Let us shout together, “We are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” Amen.
Our God is the God of hope. Those who hold on to the hope of God can lead great lives. When European churches held on to the hope of God, God raised many outstanding spiritual leaders such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Zinzendorf, and William Carey. And the European churches sent out many missionaries and were preciously used in Gods world salvation work. When the Korean church held on to the hope of God, God used them as a spiritual vessel for world salvation. UBF was founded 48 years ago in a small city, Kwangju, in Korea by the late Dr. Samuel Lee and Mother Barry. Dr. John Jun was their first Bible student and, later, became the ancestor of this ministry. At that time, UBF was like a mustard seed. Yet through UBF, God has raised more than 3,000 self supporting missionaries and sent them to 91 nations. God has made UBF a kingdom of priests that raises native leaders all around the world. Our UBF tent-maker missionaries and native leaders are heroes in this generation. Even though people may not recognize you, God sees you as the heroes of our time. I praise God who saved us in Christ and made us his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation!
Then what must we do in order to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation? Verse 5a says, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant.” The way to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation is to listen to the word of God and obey him fully. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17) We have various problems in life: financial problems, job problems, marriage problems and so on. At times, we do not see any hope. We are discouraged because we do not see the fruit we expected in our mission fields. The challenges before us seem large and we look tiny before them. Yet we must not shrink back. We must find the hope of God through hearing and obeying the word of God.
I thank God for enabling us to serve the work of God in Europe as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the last forty years. I pray that we may continue to serve the work of God in Europe as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, by hearing the word of God at this conference and by obeying him fully. May God help us to once again accept the hope of God to save the whole world. May God use us to spread the gospel to North Korea, China and Muslim countries. May God grant Europe a spiritual revival and make Europe a missionary sending continent.
Let’s read the key verses all together. “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”