Yesterday in Part I of God’s Heart for the Nations, we saw that God’s redemptive plan was for the nations.
This is accomplished by individuals, but ultimately, the plan of redemption will impact nations.
Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – Phillipians 2:9-11
Today, we look at the development God’s redemptive plan for the nations.
God chose the people of Israel.
Was God playing favorite?
Why would God choose one nation as his favorite?
We see in the Old Testament a history of God’s relationship with Israel, but the New Testament is much more international in its focus.
God’s plan for the nations hinged on the raising and blessing of one nation to serve as a blessing to all others.
In the Old Testament, that nation was the people of Israel.
In the New Testament, that nation is the church.
It didn’t take but a few generations for Israel to descend into slavery and Egypt.
Yet God was faithful to his promise that they would be a blessing to the nations – he brought them out of Egypt and restored them to a relationship. The nations who watched were awestruck at the revelation of God’s power and care for His people.
This poor nation, having no wealth, no resources, no army was to become a model nation for the world – how to live in covenant relationship with God. God redeemed Israel because of His love for the nations, and his covenant with Abraham.
The central promise of the covenant, repeated almost every time the covenant is renewed and restated, is this:
“I will be their God and they will be my people.” – Exodus 6.7.
The law was given to help define that covenant, that relationship, along with its blessings and consequences.
In Exodus 19, God reminded the Israelites that they were the treasured possession out of all the nations – the whole earth was his, yet He chose Israel. Remember, God’s love was for all nations. Israel was to be the kingdom of priests and a holy nation (19:5-6).
Yet with this choseness, came the responsibility: they were to be a holy nation, a royal priesthood. They were to serve as a witness of God’s activity in the world. They were blessed, to be a blessing.
Yet repeatedly throughout history, the nation failed to live up to its covenant obligations. They drifted.
They did what was right in their own eyes. God in his pursuing grace, raised up judges to call the people back to that relationship.
God in his pursuing grace mercy kept sending the prophets as covenant prosecutors to call the people back to right relationship with him.
Isaiah, feeling this call, could plead: “Come now, let us reason together, though you sins are like scarlet, they shall be made white as snow.”
The writers of the Psalms would write the words of God to Israel: “Be still and know that I am God, that my name would be known among the nations.”
The temple was meant to be a house of prayer “for all nations” yet in their self-behavior, they prevented the nations from coming.
Not my people
God promised through the prophet Hosea that he would expand that covenant relationship to include people outside of the chosen people of Israel. “I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one’ and I will say to those called “not my people” “you are my people” and they will say “You are my God.” (Hosea 2:23)
God’s pursing grace and redemptive plan was expanding the covenant promise to include the people outside of the special relationship with Israel. He would write the law on their heart, and give them a heart of flesh for the heart of stone.
From a broken nation, God would work out his plan of redemption.
Let me ask you this?
Questions from Miller’s Study guide.
- God used a broken nation to work out his plan for redemption. Where were you once broken, but now healed and restored?
- How can you be a blessing to those around you? How can you use your gifts to fulfill God’s purposes for you where He has placed you (Acts 17.26)
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