After God intervened at Babel by confusing their language, He began His own rescue plan, calling Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to begin a new nation. He promised that He would bless them and make them a great nation under His protection. His purpose was to position them to bless “all the families of the earth,” a promise he repeated five times beginning in Genesis 12:1-3.
God loves to bless His people and understands that this blessing carries with it the responsibility and privilege of extending it to others.
Throughout the Old Testament, for example, Israel was to show who God is and what He is like.
- The law was given at Mt Sinai so that the holy character of God would be demonstrated through Israel to the nations all around. “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep my covenant, . . . you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5a-6a)
- Even the location of their land was a strategic bridge between Africa, Asia, and Europe so that those who traveled between these continents would be exposed to their God, “I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her.” (Ezekiel 5:5)
- David said he would defeat Goliath, “That the whole world might know that there is a God in Israel.” (1 Samuel 16:46)
- The psalmist asserted, “God blesses us that all the ends of the earth may revere Him.” (Psalm 67:7)
- When Israel failed to carry out her responsibility, she was carried away to Babylonian exile, but there the Lord demonstrated His greatness through believers like Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Esther, and Mordecai. This caused the nations they touched to declare of God, “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3) and “He is the living God, and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” (Daniel 6:46)
- The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
Yes, throughout the Old Testament, we see God reaching out to the nations through His people Israel.
What do we find in the New Testament? Jesus, using the Old Testament as His Bible, declared, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Throughout His ministry, Jesus touched the lives of various Gentiles such as the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), the Roman centurion whose servant needed healing (Luke 7), the Syro-Phoenician woman whose daughter was delivered (Mark 7), and others.
At the end of His time on earth, the final words spoken by and about Jesus include:
- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19a)
- “Go into all the worlds and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
- “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47)
- “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21)
In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter declared to Jews present from nations of all the Roman empire, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
When Paul was knocked off his horse in Damascus, the Lord revealed that Paul was “a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15)
When Peter was sent to the household of Cornelius, he proclaimed, “In every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:35)
And just as they were sent to the nations, we, too, are to reach out to every people and nation until all have heard and “then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14c)