Today, we begin a series entitled “God’s Heart for the Nations.”
Salvation is not just for individuals, but for the nations.
Here is what burns in my heart as my passion in life:
to help the Church get passionate about evangelism
and leading people into discovering their faith in Christ.
I have spent hours, days, months, and even years reflecting on the question:
Why bother with Evangelism?
What drives me?
What motivates me?
Have a Glimpse of God’s Heart for the Nations
Well, one answer to that question is that I have “tasted” God’s heart for the nations. With a brief glimpse of God’s heart, my entire life direction has been transformed.
I have viewed heart warming slide shows of people of different cultures played to beautiful music, but that’s simply images. Anybody can move you with images and well placed music.
I have heard inspired sermons on God’s heart for the nations.
I have traveled to over 10 different countries, all in Latin America with the exception of two weeks in Austria.
But even with that global experience, tear jerker missionary slide shows, calls to evangelism or mission services, there is still the question of “why should I throw my life into mission?”
Why upset the fruit basket of the comfort of our life and move to the mission field?
I got a glimpse God’s heart for the nations.
God’s Heart for the Nations
Darrow Miller reminds us in a study guide that Scripture has over 2000 references to “nations.” Every nation in the world will be impacted by God’s redemptive plan.
In the Old Testament, the primary usage for “nation” is the Hebrew word mishpachah, which means a family group, tribe, or clan.
The New Testament uses the Greek word ethnos, indicating a race, people, or ethnic group.
While reading the Bible, it’s important not to confuse the modern meaning for nation, which is a nation-state, with these biblical definitions.
“Ethiopia is a nation-state, but it’s home to nearly one hundred people groups or nations.”
God created the diversity of nations:
When I look at the creation accounts, I see diversity in God’s intent and design.
It says 9 times in Genesis 1, that he made the plants, fishes, and animals “of every kind.” When God created Adam and Eve, he created them male and female.
This creation, this diversity, was “very good.” It replaced the “formless and void” of Genesis 1:2.
We see in Genesis 10 the development of the different nations from the descendants of Noah, they move from clans, to nations, with different languages (10.4, 20, and 31). 10.32 says that “From these, the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.”
Chapter 10 of Genesis makes a historical sweep covering generations of history. Genesis 11, the tower of Babel, is like a snapshot in time that occurred – it elaborates the creation of the nations.
Before Babel, humanity was mono-cultural – one language, one culture group. But at Babel, God confused the languages of the people, and then scattered them “all over the earth” (v.9). Multiple nations were thus born.
Paul goes on to say in Acts: 17.26, “from one man, he made every nation on earth, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
In other words, God created the diversity nations.
Abraham’s calling to Bless the Nations: Genesis 12:1-3.
Then Abraham appears, Gen 12. He was one man, out of the man different nations that had been created. To Him, God states clearly his purposes for the nations through his redemptive plan.
God makes three promises to Abraham.
- I will make you into a great nation.
- I will make your name great.
- I will bless you.
The men of Babel wanted to make their name great, and God confused their languages. Now, God is promising 1 man, from one nation, to make his name great.
In these promises, God has given Abraham a responsibility
“You will be a blessing, and all the nations on the earth will be blessed through you.” (12.3)
In one sentence, God has revealed his plan for the redemption of the world. At the end of time, every nation of the earth will be impacted. God’s heart is for the nations.
This promise was stated again and again in Genesis when the covenant was restated.
- Genesis 18:18: “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nations, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him”
- Genesis 22:18: “and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
- Genesis 26:4 “and through your offspring, all the nations on earth will be blessed” (said to Isaac)
- Genesis 28:14: “All the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (said to Jacob – 3rd generation)
The Goal of History: Gathering the Nations (Revelation 7:9)
While there are other verses we can look at along the way, let’s jump to the end of history as revealed to us in Revelation:
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.
This is the vision of the end of time.
This is the destination of God’s story.
God’s plan of redemption that was unfolded through the nation of Israel, fulfilled in Christ’s work, and in the future will be a diverse gathering of people. God’s plan of redemption is not just individuals, but nations.
No matter what their skin color. No matter what their heritage. No matter what their income level. No matter what their language. Ultimately the nations of the earth will enjoy God’s presence in spite of any racial or cultural differences.
Let me ask you this?
(Questions come from Miller’s study guide. Free download below)
You’ve been called by God to live where you are at the moment (Acts 17.26ff). Perhaps you are in your own country. Perhaps you live in a different nation because of a missionary calling.
- What are some positive attributes of your nation? From this list, what do you like best? Why? How does this affect you personally?
- What are some areas of brokenness of your nation? Which concerns you the most? How does this affect you personally?
- What are you doing to bring redemption to this area of brokenness? If no, why not? Are you ready to start doing something about it?
- Why do you think God has “determined this time set for you and the exact place where you should live” (Acts 17.26)?
Download the Darrow Miller Study Guide
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