Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Welcome to episode 48 of Missions on Point. We're in the middle of a series on discovering missions throughout the Bible. This is the third installment where we're going to look for the nations. This one concept I trust is going to open your eyes in your heart to see and understand things from the scriptures that maybe you just glossed over previously. God has a purpose for all the nations of the earth, for his glory and for the gospel. We first really see it after the flood when Noah's descendants began to scatter around the earth. It says in Genesis 10 that, "These men were known by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations, and these are the clans of the sons of Noah according to their genealogies in their nations. And from these, the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood."

Just the terms of nations and on the earth and spreading and the languages, all of these are little clues put together then that help us understand missions in the Bible better because we understand God's purposes through and for the nations. Immediately after that comes Genesis 11 when their languages were confused so that people scattered with language groups around the known world of the day. Paul actually refers to this in Acts 17 when he's addressing the Greek people and he says in verses 24 and following, "God, who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything. Since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything, and he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place that they should seek God in the hope that they may feel their way toward him and find him."

Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. So these terms together that I'm calling in this episode, the nations, have to do with every nation or all those that live on the face of the earth or all the earth, all peoples, all nations. These refer to God's purposes throughout all of mankind. It is absolutely amazing if you have this concept in mind and read the Old Testament, which we don't often think of as being New Testament in the sense of gospel and related to God's missions purposes. These terms together are found a thousand times in the Old Testament, not referring specifically to God's judgment of individual nations, but to their knowledge of him in a saving missional sort of way. Let me just use Psalm 96 as an example of this because it's loaded with this kind of information, but it is an example of its use many, many times through the Psalms and through the whole Old Testament.

Listen at this Psalm 96, "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song. Sing to the Lord all the earth, that all the earth is missional. Sing to the Lord. Bless his name. Tell of his salvation from day to day, declare his glory among the nations. His marvelous works among all peoples." See that? His glory among all the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. These are essentially terms used for missional statements that God would be known among all peoples of the world. "For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. He is to be feared above all gods, for all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens, splendor and majesty are before him. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, old families of the peoples. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength."

See that? Oh, families of the peoples, that is a missional statement. "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. Tremble before Him all the earth." Every time it says all the earth that's talking about all the nations of the world. Verse 10, "Say, among the nations, the Lord reigns, yes, the world is established. It shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples." That's another "the peoples with equity. Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar and all that fills it. Let the field exalt and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord. For he comes for, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness."

All of these terms about the world and the peoples in all nations and families of the peoples and all the earth, all of these things come together to say God has a plan for all the nations. He longs for them to come and worship him and glorify him, which is his ultimate purpose. Even in his judgment, he will be shown to be holy and righteous and worthy of glory when he judges sin and sinners because of their shaking their fist in his face and refusing to come to bow before him. So every time you see in the Psalms and in the Old Testament, this reference to the ends of the earth or all the earth or all peoples or nations, the coastlands, all the peoples, those kinds of phrases put together all point toward God's purpose and the concept of it going out to all languages and all people groups so that they may know God, the one true God that we know from the scriptures.

So it should not be a surprise to us when we come to the end of Matthew in this great commission passage pronounced as a mandate from the Lord Jesus Christ that he says, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me that's comprehensive already. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age." That term nations, which is the core of this great commission mandate is our word for ethnicities. All the ethnic groups of the world, all the different language groups, and we see it then repeated over and over again by naming all the groups that were present in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost and the progress of the gospel through local churches established all over Palestine in the surrounding provinces. And then the sending out of Paul and Barnabas and ultimately Paul's missions team, which included multi-ethnic people from different places around going to plant churches and preach the gospel everywhere they went.

It's clear from Christ's teaching, for instance in Mark 13:10, that the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. He has this global view in mind. We see it again in Matthew 24 when Christ says to his disciples that, "These things are written in the scriptures that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem." We see Christ saying this in his high priestly prayer in John 17, "As you father sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world and it goes on to say so that the world may believe that you have sent me." It's about the world believing in Jesus Christ. Of course, we see it in Acts 1 when the disciples were asking the resurrected Christ again about the coming of the kingdom, and he says, "It's not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority, but you'll receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you'll be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."

Note that this is not a sequence, it is not sequential, but simultaneous that the disciples will be witnesses in all of these places, not first one place and then the next place and the next place. Paul is very clear in his understanding that his commission as a missionary, would we say as an apostle, was that the Lord Jesus Christ would be preached and proclaimed to bring about obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations. Romans 1:5. And at the end of the book of Romans, Paul refers to the comprehensiveness of this clue of all nations. In his prayer at the end in Romans 16, he says, "Now, to him, who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ. According to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ. Amen."

Paul again in Galatians 3:7 says, "Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham and the scripture for seeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preach the gospel beforehand to Abraham saying, in you shall all the nations be blessed." There are so many other references that we just can't do them all in this episode, but the scriptures of the New Testament teach about not showing favoritism to one ethnicity or another, not having any barriers to the gospel, but seeing the gospel move forward proclaiming Christ to all nations. And then we come to these chapters in Revelation that speak of all tongues and tribes and peoples. In Revelation 5, it says in the middle of this chapter, which is so awesome, "They sang a new song saying, worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals for your slain and by your blood you ransom people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you made them a kingdom and priest to God and they show reign on the earth."

It's as if the Apostle John took thesaurus of Greek and used every possible word to show that people of every ethnicity and language, every stripe, every place in the world would be represented worshiping God around the throne because the gospel has been effective and God is actually called out people for his name to glorify himself from every tongue and tribe and people. It says it again in Revelation 7:9 and following, "After this, I looked and behold a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands and crying out with a loud voice. Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb." So we see from Genesis to Revelation this great theme of the nations and all of the synonymous terms that refer to the nations are a common thread of understanding of Christ and the gospel and missions and God's heart to win people from every ethnicity to worship him around the throne.

I hope that you will rejoice with me in this insight that you will never read the scriptures exactly the same again, because you'll be looking for these clues dropped here and there throughout all of the scriptures that point us to the joy of knowing God personally. For the provision of salvation from our sin and the condemnation of God's holy, righteous judgment on sinners who refuse to repent and accept his one exclusive way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. So that we can come into personal relationship with him and be adopted into his family. That is so awesome to have that insight as you read through the whole Bible. May God give you grace to see the connections of the puzzle pieces of this landscape of God's overarching purposes for His glory throughout all the scripture. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, propempo.com. Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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