Read for This Week’s Study: 1 Kings 11:1–6; Matt. 4:23–25;
Matt. 15:22–28; Mark 7:24–30; Acts 10:34, 35; Matt. 8:10.
Memory Text: “Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman,
great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter
was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28, NKJV).
From the beginning, a loving God sought His lost children (Gen.
3:9); and, to our day, this same loving God is still seeking to
reach the lost (see Rev. 14:6–12), including the lost in the cities.
In 2018, the United Nations published its latest findings, which say that
55 percent of the planet’s population lives in urban areas, and this will
grow (if time should last) to 68 percent by 2050. We have no choice:
we must witness to those in the cities.
Yet, many of God’s people act as Jonah did when called to witness
to a city: for whatever reason, they flee from the task. “For whatever
things were written before were written for our learning, that we
through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”
(Rom. 15:4, NKJV). That includes what was written about Jonah.
When here, Jesus ministered not only to those in the cities of Israel
but to those in foreign regions, as well; that is, to those outside of the
Jewish nation and the chosen people.
This week we will study the Bible story of Christ’s mission to Tyre
and Sidon and draw lessons to apply to our lives today.
* Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 16.
Lesson *December 9–15
Mission to Regions Beyond
We read that Jesus took His disciples from Gennesaret (Matt. 14:34)
“and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon” (Matt. 15:21, NKJV).
Why did He take them from Galilee to these pagan places? He leads His
disciples on this field trip into the borders of these foreign regions so that
they can learn, on location, what they could not learn so easily in Galilee.
He wanted to teach His disciples lessons that would help prepare them
for their calling to reach all people groups, including urbanites.
Read Judges 3:1–6, 1 Kings 5:1–12, and 1 Kings 11:1–6. How do these
texts help us understand a bit of the background of these cities?
From Judges 3:1–6, we see that these ancient peoples were used by
God to test the Israelites’ faith. Unfortunately, God’s people failed that
test, too, at least in this instance: “And they took their daughters to be
their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their
gods” (Judg. 3:6, NKJV). Thus, right from the start, these people were
a stumbling block to Israel.
In 1 Kings 5:1–11, we can see the close relationship between the
Sidonians and the Hebrews. Though on one level, the economic ties
were mutually beneficial, no doubt the Hebrews were still negatively
influenced by the paganism and idolatry of their trading partners.
First Kings 11:1–6 reveals just how negative that influence eventually became: King Solomon married Sidonian princesses, who led
him astray. “For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the
Sidonians” (1 Kings 11:5, NKJV).
Yet, despite the history of paganism and idolatry, and their negative
influence on the chosen nation, Jesus still brought His disciples to
these places. In this way He initiated them in cross-cultural urban mission, confronting their bias and bigotry, and modeled for His followers
wholistic urban mission to all cultures and nationalities.
Many challenges face the Adventist urban missionary, among them
include health and environmental concerns. Others would include the
high cost of living, racism, bigotry, nationalism, and constraints on religious freedom and expression. Nevertheless, despite these obstacles,
we must work for the cities.
What can you do to help those involved in urban ministry?
Seeking the Multitudes
Despite challenges, external and internal, Jesus graciously extends
the call to us for His mission to the cities.
Read Matthew 9:35–38. What does this teach us about mission to the
multitudes, wherever we find them?
Jesus was moved with compassion for the multitudes, such as are
found in cities. Luke 19:41 describes how Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
We may not understand the depths of Jesus’ love for His children,
even for the “faceless masses” living in cities. This is why in Matthew
9:38 Jesus tells us to pray, so that our motives and hearts can be like
Read Matthew 4:23–25. As Jesus began His ministry, from what geographic locations did the people come?
In Matthew 4:25, the multitudes following Jesus came from Galilee,
from the ten city-states of the Decapolis to the east, from Jerusalem,
and from Judea to the south. Besides Samaria, what region was missing?
The coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, part of Phoenicia, along the
Mediterranean Sea and northwest of Galilee. We now see why Jesus
went to this area! This trip to the region of Tyre and Sidon was one of
Jesus’ cross-cultural mission trips.
“After the encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus withdrew from
Capernaum, and crossing Galilee, repaired to the hill country on the
borders of Phoenicia. Looking westward, He could see, spread out upon
the plain below, the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon, with their heathen
temples, their magnificent palaces and marts of trade, and the harbors
filled with shipping.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 399.
How can we help people see just how futile, in and of themselves,
“their magnificent palaces and marts of trade” are, and why they
In Tyre and Sidon
Bible scholars believe that the Gospel of Matthew had been written
specifically for a Jewish audience, and that Mark was written with primarily a Gentile audience in mind. It is helpful to keep this distinction
before us as we study the Gospels.
Read Matthew 15:22–28 and Mark 7:24–30. What differences do you
see in how the woman was depicted?
Notice how Matthew describes this mother using her nationality or
race: Canaanite. Mark is led by the Holy Spirit to use additional terms
to describe this mother as “a Greek” or “a Gentile” and then gives
additional information: “a Syro-Phoenician by birth” or “a Syrian of
Phoenicia”—the only time that this term is used in the Bible.
Consider how this story in Matthew 15 would impact the intended primary audience with their background and worldview. Matthew’s audience
would see this mother as a despised heathen. This comes from the Jewish
people’s historical experience with the Canaanites as an idol-worshiping
people group whose evil lifestyle and practices had long been a stumbling
block to their nation. Even Christ’s disciples did not consider the possibility
that this woman had faith and was part of the kingdom of God!
In Mark 7, Mark’s audience of Gentiles would have a different
response from that of Matthew’s. The Gentiles did not have the same
experience as the Jews did with the Canaanites. Instead, the Gentiles
would identify with this woman, “a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth”
(NKJV). Jesus healed one of their own! For the Gentiles, this woman
would be regarded as a beloved mother who was concerned about the
fate of her daughter and wanted the Master to heal her, regardless of
this mother’s ethnic and national background.
“Christ did not immediately reply to the woman’s request. He received
this representative of a despised race as the Jews would have done. In
this He designed that His disciples should be impressed with the cold
and heartless manner in which the Jews would treat such a case, as
evinced by His reception of the woman, and the compassionate manner
in which He would have them deal with such distress, as manifested by
His subsequent granting of her petition.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire
of Ages, p. 400.
Read 1 John 2:2. What should this text tell us about how we are
all the same before God?
Tuesday December 12
“Send Her Away!”
In the unreached neighborhood of the cities, there are many who
long for hope. During Christ’s time, what prevented God’s people from
bringing hope of the Messiah to such foreign cities as Tyre and Sidon?
Nationalism, pride, and prejudice blinded God’s people to the opportunities to see those nearest to them who longed for the hope foretold by
the prophecies of the First Advent. Today in the cities, there are many
population groups with whom Jesus Christ wants His people to share
the “blessed hope” of the Second Advent (Titus 2:13). And just as Jesus
didn’t care what their nationality or race was, neither should we.
Read Acts 10:9–16, 28, 34, 35. How would you summarize the lesson
taught here by the Holy Spirit?
While waiting for lunch, Peter was given a vision of a rooftop buffet complete with a tablecloth filled with unclean animals and birds.
Three times he was told in this vision to get up and eat. God used
these visions to confront Peter’s religious pride and bigotry against the
Gentiles. Peter eventually understood this truth: “Then Peter opened his
mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But
in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted
by Him’ ” (Acts 10:34, 35, NKJV).
With this background, let’s reflect on our story for lessons from Tyre
and Sidon. Look again at Jesus and His interaction with the mother.
What lessons did the disciples learn from this field trip that related
also to Peter’s vision? How can we apply these to our lives today and to
Christ’s last-day call to His mission to the cities? What biases prevent
us from seeing the needs of urbanites? What opportunities has God
provided to us in the cities—to expand our mission understanding, and
caringly to confront our bigotry, nationalism, and spiritual pride?
Jesus patiently taught His disciples, who did not yet fully understand
that God’s great plan of salvation was for the entire human family, not
just one nation or rural ethnic group. The Holy Spirit can help us to
overcome our prejudice and bias in order to complete our mission to
Read Galatians 2:11–13. What should this teach us about how
hard it can be to be purged of the prejudices we have been taught
Faith on Earth?
In Luke 18:8, Jesus asks this question at the end of one of His
parables: “ ‘When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on
the earth?’ ” (NKJV). As Christ’s disciples today, we need to see what
Jesus is looking for. In this story, we can see that Jesus is looking for
faith that shines even amid darkness.
Read Matthew 8:10, 13; Matthew 9:2; Matthew 20:29–34; Mark 2:5;
Mark 10:46–52; and Luke 18:35–43. In these passages, whom does
Jesus describe as having faith?
This list includes people with faith that shone even in dark cities.
In Capernaum, Jesus highlights several people with faith. In Matthew
8:10, 13, we see a converted pagan centurion with great faith. We
meet four faith-filled friends who ripped up the roof to bring their
paralyzed friend to Jesus (Matt. 9:2, Mark 2:5). In Mark 10, we
meet the former blind man, Bartimaeus, whose faith shines bright in
At the same time, we would expect that among God’s people there
would be great faith. Yet, even in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, little
faith—or even outright unbelief—was the limiting factor to Christ’s
ministry. Among His disciples, several times Jesus says of Israel, “O
ye [thou] of little faith!” (Matt. 6:30, Matt. 8:26, Matt. 14:31, Matt.
16:8). And in Matthew 17:17, Jesus exclaims, “O faithless and perverse
One lesson that we can apply to today is that faith is found in unexpected places: in the cities among foreigners, pagans, and people with
different religions. In humility, we must go into the cities as Jesus did,
seeking out those who, when presented with truth, will respond with a
saving faith in Jesus. And they are indeed out there.
Challenge: Open your heart in prayer for a greater portion of
faith with which to share your love for those near and far.
Challenge Up: How did you come to know Jesus and the precious three angels’ messages? List three spiritual blessings that
you have experienced from Jesus in your personal life. Prepare
to share these concepts with your Sabbath School class.
Thursday December 14
Further Thought: “Among those whom the Jews styled heathen were
men who had a better understanding of the Scripture prophecies concerning the Messiah than had the teachers in Israel. There were some who
hoped for His coming as a deliverer from sin. Philosophers endeavored
to study into the mystery of the Hebrew economy. But the bigotry of the
Jews hindered the spread of the light.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of
Ages, p. 33.
“The Lord Jesus, the mighty Saviour, has died for these souls. He can
arouse them from their indifference, he can awaken their sympathies,
he can soften their hearts, he can reveal to their souls the beauty and
power of the truth. The Master-worker is God, and not finite man; and
yet he calls upon men to be the agents through whom he can impart
light to those in darkness. God has jewels in all the churches, and it is
not for us to make sweeping denunciation of the professed religious
world, but in humility and love, present to all the truth as it is in Jesus.
Let men see piety and devotion, let them behold Christlikeness of
character, and they will be drawn to the truth. . . . They are to lift up
Jesus, the world’s Redeemer; they are to hold forth the word of life.”
—Ellen G. White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 17,
Ê What are some of the immediate needs in the areas where you
live that could give you and your church the opportunity to reach
out to souls who don’t know the truths that we do?
Ë Look at Ellen G. White’s words above regarding those of other
faiths: “God has jewels in all the churches, and it is not for us to
make sweeping denunciation of the professed religious world.” In
other words, how can we show people the error of their ways while
at the same time not denigrating the people personally?
Ì “ ‘When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the
earth?’ ” (Luke 18:8, NKJV). What does Jesus mean by this rhetorical question? What is the difference between faith and belief?
Why might people who have the correct belief be found void of
faith when Christ returns?
Provided by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission, which uses Sabbath School
mission offerings to spread the gospel worldwide. Read new stories daily at AdventistMission.org. 95
Dreaming Dreams: Part 1
By Andrew McChesney
Sixteen-year-old Joseph Delamou was anxious. He worried that he wasn’t
attending the right church in Conakry, capital of the West African country
“Show me the way,” he prayed. “I’ll go wherever You lead.” hat night, he
had a vivid dream. He dreamed that he and 70 members of his church were
on a compound, making plans on how to grow their congregation. Outside
the compound loomed the palace of a mighty king, the ruler of the world.
Abruptly, a unit of soldiers burst into the compound. “You need to leave,”
a soldier told Joseph. “We want to train you to join our ranks.”
Joseph didn’t want to leave, but the soldier insisted. “You can’t stay,” he
said. “Leave. Go anywhere you want. Just don’t stay here. After three days,
you can come back and see what has happened to these people.”
Joseph left and, returning three days later, found a very quiet compound.
He wondered where everyone was. Then he saw a boy hiding behind the
wall of the king’s palace. The boy was bleeding and, when Joseph tried to
talk to him, put a finger to his lips.
“Come over here,” he whispered.
After Joseph drew near, the boy said, “Your God is great!”
“What?” Joseph asked.
“I said, ‘Your God is great!’ ” the boy said. “How is it that you are the only
person who left us three days ago? Many of us were shot and killed, but you
are the only one who escaped. How?”
Joseph pressed the boy for details, and the boy led him to a mound of dirt.
He said it was the mass grave of more than 40 people. “The soldiers didn’t
train anyone,” he said. “They shot people and took survivors away in cages.”
Then Joseph noticed a snake lying motionless on the ground. The boy said
it was the king who had lived in the palace, and he had been slain. “Let me
show you the prince who has taken over from the king,” he said.
Joseph couldn’t take his eyes off the snake. “How did a snake rule the
world and call itself king?” he asked. “I don’t understand how people could
accept a snake as king.”
“I can’t explain this to you right now,” the boy
At that moment, Joseph woke up. He didn’t understand the dream. But he sensed God was calling him
to leave the church of his father. Where should he go?
Your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering on December 30 will help
spread the gospel in the West-Central Africa Division, which
includes Guinea. Thank you for planning a generous offering.
Read more about Joseph next week.
great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter
was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28, NKJV).