Biblical Basis of Missions / God’s Heart for the Nations

The Bible is an incredible text made up of
66 different books written by more than 40 authors over a span of 1,000 years. It is not
just a compilation of a bunch of different stories. Or a self-help manual. Or, even a
devotional book. It is one cohesive story from Genesis to Revelation, the story of
God’s glory. Let’s take a look at His story. In the beginning, God created everything for
Himself and His glory. At the pinnacle of that creation He made man so that God could
share Himself with others. We were told to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth
with the glory of God. But man decided that God couldn’t be trusted – that he was holding
something back from us. We decided to live for ourselves instead of for God and this
filled the earth with sin and selfishness. The generations of man had soon gone so far
off track, in fact, that God flooded the entire earth and started over with a man named Noah.
When Noah stepped off the ark, God told him the same words he had told Adam, “Be fruitful
and multiply and fill the earth.” Once again, however, humanity looked to give
itself honor instead of God. Because they all shared the same language, it was easy
to communicate and cooperate. So they made a plan. At a place called Babel, they would
build a tower up to the heavens and, in doing so, make a name for themselves. They labored
to build their own kingdom rather than obey God’s command. They had made the same mistake
as each of the generations before them. Since mankind had ignored his message to spread
his name and his glory throughout the earth, God took matters into his own hands. He scrambled
the languages of the people so they could no longer communicate easily with each other.
In that moment, God had formed the many different tribes and peoples of the world. So the different
people groups spread to the north, the south, the east, and the west. Out of those nations, God chose a man named
Abraham and made a covenant with him. God told Abraham that he would bless him and all
his descendants turning them into a great nation that would bless all the other nations.
God eventually called this nation Israel and he began to demonstrate his glory through
them in many ways. He gave them a set of laws to live by so that they could live separate
and holy lives from all the other nations. In doing so, they would become his royal priests,
mediating between God and man. By living out his commands in the sight of the nations,
Israel would encourage people to love God and love others. God also gave Israel a special geographical
place on the earth strategically located in the middle of all other nations. It was in
this Promised Land that Israel would be a light to all nations – showing them the path
to God even in the darkness of the world. Sometimes Israel would live out this calling
well, understanding God’s desire to bless all the peoples of the earth through them.
Other times, though, Israel would fall into the same trap that humanity had again and
again – glorifying itself rather than glorifying God. When Israel got off track, God intervened.
Sometimes he raised up prophets to remind them of their mandate to bless the nations
with the blessings he had given them. Other times he would discipline his people by allowing
them to be taken captive by other nations. Regardless, God used Israel, even in their
disobedience, to make his name great throughout the earth. But all of this was just the beginning of
what God had in store. In all of its ups and downs, Israel grew hungry for a promised Messiah
King who would establish an everlasting Kingdom that would never be defeated. That, of course, leads us to Jesus. God sent His son Jesus to earth for 33 years
to dramatically demonstrate the Father’s love for both Jew and Gentile alike. Yes,
he was from King David’s bloodline, but his genealogy had both Jews and Gentiles in
it. His first worshippers were the wisemen – Gentiles from the east. Angels proclaimed
that His salvation would be for all peoples. Even his baby dedication identified him as
a light for revelation to the Gentiles. Time and time again Christ reminded his disciples
(who considered themselves “God’s favorite”) that God’s plan from the beginning was to
bless all peoples. His life modeled this message perfectly. He became angry when the Temple wasn’t being
used as a “house of prayer for all nations.” He told parables about the kingdom of God
being a kingdom for all people groups. And he preached good news to Jews, Gentiles, rich,
poor, educated, and uneducated alike. Jesus served Canaanites, Samaritans, Romans, and
Greeks. He was (and is) a true Messiah for all nations. He lived a perfect life, died a perfect death,
and rose again with a perfect resurrection. Then, he commanded us to “Go, make disciples
of all nations!” The perfect words to sum up his ministry. He told us that this gospel of the kingdom
must be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all of the ethnic groups, and then the
end would come. We saw the beginnings of this when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples
at Pentecost and told the wonders of God in all the different languages of the world.
We saw it continued when Christ called Paul and other apostles to preach the Gospel to
the Gentiles. It continues even now. We are waiting for
the end that we see in Revelation when the Lamb of God (Jesus) has purchased, with his
blood, people from every nation. Those people will form a multitude that no one can count
from every tribe, tongue, and people group, worshipping and saying, “Salvation belongs
to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” That’s the story of the Bible. A single,
cohesive story from cover to cover. God’s story. The story of His glory among all the
nations, but it can’t come to fruition until all nations have heard. He invites you into that story. He invites
you into that mission. What part will you play?


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