Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Come right on in to episode 171 of Missions On Point. I'm thankful you're joining us today. We're in a small series on missions insights from the Old Testament. If you've been following, you know that we are not trying to be comprehensive in our coverage of missions insights throughout the whole Old Testament. You'll also know that missions per se as we understand it from the New Testament perspective is not really in the Old Testament very much. The Old Testament teaches us that the Sons of Abraham, the Hebrew people were to be attractive and a demonstration of the blessings of knowing the one true God. Yet it's easy to see God's overarching purpose to reach all nations and to have people from every language and tongue and tribe worship him and him alone as the one true God throughout the Old Testament.
Today we're going to look at Psalm 67 as an outstanding representative passage of God's heart for the nations and will also touch base in Isaiah and Ezekiel. Psalm 67 is very much a missions psalm. Listen to it. It's rather short, only seven verses.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us that your way may be known on earth. You're saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, oh God, let all the peoples praise you. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the earth. Let the nations praise you, oh God, let all the peoples praise you. The earth has yielded its increase. God, our God shall bless us, God shall bless us, let all the ends of the earth fear him.
Blessed for a purpose
The big theme of Psalm 67 is that God blesses us so that it has a purpose so that his way and his person would be known on all the earth to all the ends of the earth. Psalm 67 begins with a prayer. Actually, it's a benediction invoking God's blessing on us, on the reader, or specifically to the people of Israel. It says, may God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us. This wording is directly related to God's instruction of how Aaron is to bless the people of Israel from Numbers 6:24-26. It says this.
"The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."
Though it is abbreviated here in Psalm 67, no doubt the reader or listener in the day would've recognized it immediately as coming from this Aaronic blessing of the people of Israel. And then the purpose is given in verse two. That your way may be known on earth your saving power among all nations. This is amazing because it says you're asking for God's blessing so that people would come into a personal relationship with him and know his way everywhere on earth and his saving power among all nations. So salvation to all nations is woven into this psalm. We can see throughout this psalm the kind of terminology that's very inclusive of all nations and all peoples. Let's just look at those phrases. In verse two, on earth and all nations. In verse three, let the peoples praise you. The peoples plural always refers to the scope of all nationalities, all ethnicities out there. And again, in verse three, it says all the peoples. Verse four, the nations and the peoples and the nations again. Verse five, the peoples and all the peoples. And verse seven, all the ends of the earth. So there should be no doubt to the reader or listener that this Psalm, Psalm 67, is comprehensive in its scope in reaching all nations for the purpose of bringing glory to God and knowing him.
These phrases are not unusual in the Book of Psalms, these phrases like nations and peoples and all the earth are used at least 150 times in the Book of Psalms. And across the scope of the Old Testament, these types of phrases are used a thousand times. Here in chapter 67, these phrases are used 10 times. So here's my little outline of key thoughts, all with words starting with P out of chapter 67. Verse one is prayer. Verse two is the purpose. Verse three is praise. Verse four is the potential of people knowing him, being glad in him and the Lord judging them. Verse five is praise. Verse six is productivity. And verse seven is both purpose and promise that all the ends of the earth would fear him.
Look out for missions phrases
Now you know, as you read the Psalms, be on the lookout for these little phrases that indicate a missional purpose. I'm just glancing around Psalm 67 and seeing chapter 65, verse two, oh you who hears prayer to you shall all flesh come. That's another phrase, all flesh. In verse five, the God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth, and the ends of the earth is used again. In chapter 66, verse four, all the earth worships you and sings praises to you. They sing praises to your name. In chapter 68, verse 32, oh kingdoms of the Earth sing to God, sing praises to the Lord. Chapter 72, verse eight and following, may he, that is the Lord, have dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth. May desert tribes bow down before him and his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute. May the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts. May all kings fall down before him. All nations serve him.
And in chapter 72, verse 19, blessed be his glorious name forever. May the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen. Now we turn briefly to the book of Isaiah and chapters 40 through 45 in particular are amazing in how they highlight the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteous one of Israel, the servant of the most high. And throughout these chapters, there are hints of salvation going out to all the earth and the whole earth understanding that God alone is sovereign, completely sovereign in all things. He is exclusively God. There is no other God at all. Here, these pieces from Psalm 45, the end of verse 21 and 22. And there is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a savior. There is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved all the ends of the earth for I am God and there is no other.
That the nations would know
This is a call of the gospel in the Old Testament. Turn to me, everyone from all over the earth. I am the only Savior and be saved. Now, let's turn to the book of Ezekiel. I was amazed to see this when I first saw it. There are 62 times in the book of Ezekiel that words like this are said. "That you the nations would know that I am the Lord," or words equivalent to that. Now, Ezekiel was an exilic prophet. That means he was in exile with the people of Israel. He actually functioned as the news mouthpiece of God about the condition of the land of Israel, in particular Jerusalem and the worship of God in Israel and in exile.
Ezekiel is kind of mocked by unbelievers as being the prototypical sort of haggard bearded prophet with a signboard that says the end is near. It's true that Ezekiel had a lot of messages of impending judgment both for the people of Israel and the nations throughout the known world of the day. But if you read Ezekiel with eyes aware of these phrases, you see them all over the place. There's 62 occurrences in the book of Ezekiel, and most of the times these words are used. They're purposive in their intent. In other words, God judges nations so that they will come to know him so that they will repent of their sin, that they will turn to the one true God instead of following folly or sinful behavior or being so proud of themselves. These words show us that God wants to use even his judgment as an object lesson to turn people to himself, to cause them to repent and recognize that he alone is God and that they should worship and follow him.
It's a steady drumbeat throughout the book of Ezekiel. Let's look at some of them. Ezekiel five, verse 13. He says, they shall know that I am the Lord, that I have spoken in my jealousy when I spin my fury upon them. Chapter six, verse seven, the slain shall fall in your midst and you shall know that I am the Lord. Verse 10, they shall know that I am the Lord. Verse 13, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Verse 14, then they will know that I am the Lord.
Chapter 24 is a very personal part of Ezekiel's story, and even in this chapter in verse 24, it says, thus shall Ezekiel be to you a sign according to all that he has done, you shall do. When this comes, then you will know that I am the Lord. In verse 27, on that day, your mouths will be open to the fugitive and you will speak and be no longer mute, so you will be assigned to them and they will know that I am the Lord. By God's instruction and inspiration, Ezekiel prophesies against Sidon, against Egypt, and he says again, and they shall know that I am the Lord. Then they will know that I am the Lord. Then they will know that I am the Lord. Over and over again. Chapter 36, verse 23, and the nations will know that I am the Lord declares the Lord God.
So even in this book that we consider to be the record of the prophet Ezekiel, as a man of doom and gloom, there is this great drumbeat in the background beating out that God's purpose is to save people from every nation, and that through all of the things that are coming and that he has predicted that they should know that he alone is God. God uses prophecy and judgment in his sovereignty to pull people to acknowledge that he alone is God and worship him and find him to be a great, holy, sovereign God and savior. Keep your antenna up for these purpose of statements throughout the Old Testament and you will see God's plan for missions working its way out in his great sovereign plan for all the nations of the earth.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at propempo.com and missialserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen.
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