God’s Heart for the Nations

Did God’s plan for Israel fail resulting in Him creating another plan that included the nations? Let me say right off I believe the answer is no.

God’s Plan Has Always Included the Nations

Even though the Old Testament is primarily focused on the nation of Israel, we see a glimpse of God’s desire to save all nations. Resulting in His mission as always being focused on, and including, the nations.

Since God’s mission has always been focused on the nations, we, as God’s ambassadors, are to take up His mission to reach all peoples with the gospel.

With that in mind, let’s look at some key verses that I believe shows God’s heart for the nations.

Key Verses Showing God’s Heart for the Nations

Genesis 12:1-3

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

God tells Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed in Him. He then is the source of blessing. From him comes the Messianic seed, Jesus, who is the Christ. It is Jesus who will bring redemption to all nations and all peoples (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:17; Matt. 1; Acts 3:26).

In Psalm 22:27-28, we are told that the Lord will rule over all nations and all nations will worship Him. Granted some will bow down unwillingly, but many will bow down willingly to God as their Lord and Savior.

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

In Psalm 67, the Psalmist prays that God would bless the nation of Israel, so that His blessing on them would cause all the nations to know He is the one true God and worship Him.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

In Isaiah 56:3,6-7, the foreigner is not kept from joining Himself to the Lord. Rather, he will be brought into God’s holy mountain. His  sacrifices will be accepted, and he will experience the joy of the Lord.

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
“The LORD will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”

And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”

In Zechariah 2:10-11, we are told that many nations will join themselves to the Lord.

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.

So then, after reading the verses above, we are not surprised at what Paul writes in Ephesians 3:1-6

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

As well as we are not surprised that in Galatians 3:28-29, Paul tells us that all those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved, and that all those who believe in Jesus by faith are Abraham’s offspring.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Conclusion

The nations were not an afterthought. The Gentiles were not God’s Plan B. He has always had a concern for the nations. His desire has always been for them to experience salvation.

While Israel is God’s special people, experiencing special privileges, they are not God’s only people. Rather, they were the way in which God deemed right to bring salvation to all peoples. In short, Israel was God’s first ambassadors. They were how God manifested Himself to the nations. They were God’s light to the world.

Through God working in Israel the gospel has been made known to the Gentiles. As well as the gospel has been believed by the Gentiles because they were also foreordained to be God’s people.

So then, God has always had a heart for the nations. It has always been His plan to bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles alike.

Application

Now that we know God’s mission, we are to take up His mission. We are to be His ambassadors, bringing the message of the gospel to all nations, so that all nations will experience salvation.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How are you doing at being a light for God where you work, live, and play?
  2. If we took our mission seriously, do you believe there would be more people reached with the gospel?
  3. Are you allowing the world’s comforts to stop you from sharing the gospel with others?

Resource

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Be an Ambassador

Have you ever thought about your purpose in the world? Have you ever thought about what it means to be an ambassador? I am sure many of you have thought about your purpose in the world, but few of you have probably thought about what it means to be an ambassador, let alone if you are an ambassador.

In my last post, What is My Purpose in the World?, I answered the first question by concluding that,

When we image God to others by our actions and our words, we are taking up God’s mission to reach the nations with His gospel. When we take up God’s mission, then and only then are we accomplishing our purpose in God’s story, which means we have found our purpose in this world.

So we know what gives us purpose, namely, imaging God. It is possible for us to image God by reflecting His character and sharing His gospel because we are redeemable.

Why We are Redeemable

We are redeemable because we have been made in God’s image. Since we are made in His image, we are able to understand His actions in Jesus Christ, as well as we are able to understand His Word, which tells us what His actions in Christ mean.

My last statement brings up an important point. Without God’s Word, the Bible, we would not know the importance of Jesus’ actions. God’s Word is then a crucial aspect to our understanding of God’s plan, and it is what we must share with others. As God’s ambassadors, we are to share His Word with our neighbors and the nations.

We are God’s Ambassadors

An ambassador is someone who delivers a message on another’s behalf in their authority. The United States has ambassadors who travel to other countries to conduct business on its behalf. Just like the US has ambassadors, God has ambassadors. Those who are saved by Jesus Christ, who are professing believers, are God’s ambassadors.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 we read:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

We who are reconciled by God through Christ are God’s ambassadors. Our job as His ambassadors is to implore (call someone earnestly) to believe in Jesus Christ, so that they will then be reconciled to God and enjoy the salvation we enjoy.

Looking Forward

In my next post, I will discuss our motivation and how we are empowered for this task. For now, let me give you some questions for reflection.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you see God’s Word as crucial for understanding God’s work in the world?
  2. Do you see yourself as God’s ambassador, or do you believe this is left up to the professionals?
  3. What are some ways you can begin acting as God’s ambassador right where you work, play, and live? (Need some ideas? Read: How to Meet the Unchurched.)

Resources

Bill Clem, Disciple: Finding your identity in Jesus, 11-35.

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